Madhubani Railway Station's Artistic Makeover Is All About Women Empowerment

How one of the dirtiest railway stations in India was transformed using traditional Mithila painting by women in Bihar

From the dirtiest railway stations in India, Madhubani in Bihar now sports a completely different look with Mithila paintings decorating its walls. More than 225 artists volunteered to paint the station free of cost.

Mithila paintings are done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens and matchsticks. Intially the art was practised on paper and cloth and slowly it shifted to walls. The traditional art form has been passed down generation after generation. Artists use natural dyes and pigments to make geometrical patterns. The rich artistic and cultural transformation has now made Madhubani if not the cleanest, then perhaps the brightest stations in the country. Under an initiative of the Indian Railways’ “Rail Swacch Mission,” local artists painted the station over a period of two months, covering 14,000 square feet of the Madhubani railway junction’s walls.

80 percent of the volunteers were local women who had never really worked with outdoors or in the presence of men. As majority of the women stood over the busy platforms, shaping and designing the contours of the intricate patterns, they were brought under one single canvas that left them empowered. They no longer need any middlemen to commission them work. Instead they have left their names and contact details under their artwork which helps people reach them easily. The artistic makeover of the oldest railway station in Bihar has indeed been a journey of women empowerment.

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