Batik as an art on sarees, stoles and kurtas was very popular in seventies. All shops in Janpath were full of Batik kurtas for maximum ₹10/- and Shankar market was full of Batik sarees for ₹40/-. My hostel mates from Kolkata used to bring lovely Batiks when they would return after summer holidays .
The story goes that batik originated on the Coromandel coast before finding its way to Indonesia. Here the art was perfected and then brought back to India by Rabindranath Tagore. So Bengalis had a special love for Batik. People had Bankura horses and Jamini Roy paintings done in Batik.
There were shops in Karol Bagh which sold all the colours, chemicals and wax required to make Batik at home. My friend Chetna & I were quite into art & craft even while we were in the hostel. Batik fascinated us and we went and bought all ingredients including a small electric heater and a pan to melt wax. We broke all rules and three of us set out to make three stoles. I drew a Konark wheel free hand on all three stoles. Every day after our classes got over we did little bit literally in hiding. Just when we finished it some one complained and warden walked into our room. We didn't even have enough time to hide all the things. She was not only shocked but sad & disappointed because two of her most loved students had broken the rules. Hostel authorities confiscated the electrical gadgets and we were "gated" for a month (we couldn't go out of hostel). We took out the wax cleaned the stoles and after ironing it found that we had done a pretty good job. I gifted my stole to Ira Dutta my warden and begged her to forgive me and promised her that in life I will never let someone down who had reposed faith in me. Batik had taught me a great lesson.
After many years may be some five years back I saw some beautiful batik done on Maheshwari sarees in Mrignayani.
Strangely Madhya Pradesh is creating Batiks though they have had no earlier traditions of making Batiks unlike Bengal. Remembered my tryst with Batik and bought three of them. .
Wearing it for the first time since I bought them. I had loved the neatly done chevrons in this deep turquoise Maheshwari.
#129/20th June 2018