“We Embrace You Mother Earth and Sister Tree”. Celebrating Creator’s Oikos: Young Women Artist Painting Murals of Inclusive and Just Communities.

GirlsThe National Council of Churches Quadrennial Assembly is at the threshold. The theme of the Assembly is “Towards Just and Inclusive Communities”. NCCI is mobilizing and inviting churches and communities to participate in this pilgrimage and celebration. Various Pre Assemblies or Forums are being organized. “Our aim is to creatively engage communities, churches  and people to share their stories and contributions and join us in our pilgrimage  to  build just and inclusive communities. Building just and inclusive  communities also calls for just relationships with mother earth” states Rev Dr Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of  NCCI.   Ten young women dalit and tribal artists were invited to share their notion of just and  inclusive communities through traditional Warli art form by painting  murals  embracing walls around  the trees in NCCI campus.  These young women are from indigenous and  dalit background and are trainees from adopted slum communities of  Church of North India – Social Service Institute (CNISSI) of  Nagpur Diocese. Church of North India is member Church of NCCI.

12705201_10208885145152391_3106030588910624174_nAccording to Mrs Aradhana Upadhyay Director, CNI-SSI “We work  towards building just and inclusive communities.  Our work is among marginalized communities. We engage in various poverty alleviation, skill development, income generation and leadership development projects and programs. Developing grassroots women leadership and gender justice is one of our main focus.  We train women  to use traditional art forms, to use recycled resources, and  engage them in income generation entrepreneurship activities.”

As the young artists splashed their creative Warli art strokes on the walls in NCCI campus they sang traditional folk songs “ The flowers  of spring are blooming ….We embrace you mother Earth and Sister Tree”.  According to Ms Moumita Biswas – Executive  Secretary of All India Council of Christian Women, the Women’s wing of NCCI, “ This endeavour provided us the opportunity to dialogue with artists and their teachers on how  folk art  can be used as a tool of advocacy to promote human rights of people of vulnerable communities and rights  of women and children, and even promote harmonious relationships with mother earth. Art is an expression of our spirituality. NCCI  and AICCW also focuses on ecumenical and spiritual formation by nurturing artists and preserving the cultures and traditions of the spiritualities  of indigenous people, dalits and women.

mThe art form, that was used by the women artists to  paint murals in the NCCI campus,  is known as Warli art. Warli art is beautiful folk art of Maharashtra state in India, traditionally created by tribal women mainly Malkhari, Koli, Kathodi, and Dhodi tribes . This art was first explored in the early seventies and the form then was named “ Warli art”. The Warli style of painting evolved from its mural form. Even today in villages of Maharashtra  it is a tradition  to decorate the mud walls of the huts with Warli paintings made in rice paste. The most important aspect of the painting is that it does not depict mythological characters or images of deities, but depicts social life and how people live harmoniously with nature.


In present context, Warli art is  highly commercialized and used by textile and handicraft industries. Warli art is even used to decorate walls in five star hotels.  Therefore  there is  the urgent need to interrogate this entire process of commercialization of folk art. Since this form of art work is not patented, it is being robbed from indigenous people and it is getting stripped off its spiritual, social, cultural and traditional elements, as lands of indigenous  are being taken away and they are getting displaced and  migrating. NCCI  invites churches to nurture and promote artists, particularly the folk art of women, indigenous and dalit people and  their spirituality towards building  just communities  and harmonious relationships with mother earth.

Reported by

Moumita Biswas

Executive Secretary

All India Council of Christian Women

Women’s wing NCCI

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