A Muslim couple carve Hindu deities out of wheat stalks

March 5th, 2009 - 1:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, March 5 (IANS) Nearly 35 students sit carving intricate showpieces of Hindu gods and goddesses from wheat stalks in a house in an Uttar Pradesh village under the watchful eyes of a Muslim couple who perfected the art.

Mohammad Yunus Khan and his wife Sadiqua Begum of Khatripura village in Bahriach district exhibit extraordinary skills in cutting wheat stalks into very fine sections and using them to make idols depicting incarnations of Hindu deities.

Khatripura village is 270 km from state capital.

“As we did not want the art to remain confined to our house, we started training the people, particularly the unemployed,” Khan told IANS over phone from Bahraich.

“Although I have been preparing these objects for the last 20 years, it was around four years ago that I took it up as a profession after suggestions from my friends,” said the 40-year-old.

Khan also trained his wife in this unique skill and now Sadiqua helps her husband in teaching others.

The cost incurred is low as wheat stalks, shaving blades and adhesives are the main tools used for the art.

“The beauty of the art lies in cutting sections of wheat stalks using razors. The entire exercise is quite intricate and one needs to be highly cautious as the work involves the use of sharp edged blades,” said Sadiqua.

Khan says that the showpieces become more beautiful with the passage of time.

“The objects made from stalks develop a peculiar yellow colour as they turn old with time,” said Khan.

The couple charges Rs.100 monthly from those interested in learning the art. However, they teach the financially weak free of cost.

“One can master the art even in one month provided they religiously devote an hour or two daily,” Khan said. The couple claim that they have made at least 400 people self reliant with this skill.

The eye-catching objects can cost anything from few rupees to several thousands.

“Depending upon the labour, we decide the price. While a logo of ’swastika’ is priced at Rs.50, a five-feet Lord Krishna comes with a price tag of Rs.5,000,” Khan said.

With the assistance of the district industries centre, the couple sell their products by setting up stalls in fairs and other public events.

“The art developed by the couple is unique in itself. We want they (couple) should get recognition not only in the state, but outside it too,” said S.B. Singh, the general manager of the district industries centre.

“In order to help the couple in popularising the art, we are making efforts to set up a centre for them, where they can train those interested in learning it,” he added.

(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at asit.s@ians.in)

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