Madhubani (Bihar): Sikki craft, the theme of Bihar tableau in this year's Republic Day programme in New Delhi, has brought under focus the traditional craft women of Mithila region of the state, who has been practising the art for long.

The tableau displayed artisans from Bihar making products made of sikki, a golden coloured grass grown in the wet and marshy areas around rivers and ponds in Madhubani, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi and other North Bihar districts.

Mithila is mainly famous of Madhubani paintings, but sikki craft is another art that is the source of livelihood for a vast majority of poor women of the region. Baskets, dolls and other decorative pieces made of sikki rule city drawing rooms because of the beauty of the products, said Rani Jha, an expert of Sikki art.

However, growing influence of western culture had been threatening survival of sikki art and the traditional skill required protection of the government, Jha told reporters. To catch up with the times, said Mahadevi, another practitioner of sikki craft, artisans were making a variety of beautiful products and also which are of daily use.

These include coasters, mobile phone cases, masks, mirror frames, table mats, pencil boxes, hand-held fans, bowls, jewellery boxes, bangles and paper weights. Sikki also symbolises the tradition of Mithila region. When a girl goes to her in-laws' place after marriage a sikki grass item is given to her in the belief that it would help bring prosperity and richness of art in her new home.

Sikki baskets filled with dry-fruits and auspicious commodities are also gifted to daughters at the time of marriage, sikki experts said. Sikki grass is first cut from near its base and dried under the sun for some days. Its flowers are discarded and the remaining portion is sliced with the help of a knife or with teeth to make a string which are then moulded to give the shape of the intended object.

Along with its natural golden colour, artificial colours like red, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink are used to make the products more attractive.


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