From daily wage labourer to award-winning tribal painter

New Delhi, feb 8 : When she migrated to Bhopal from her village in Madhya Pradesh to work as a labourer, Bhil tribeswoman Bhuri Bai never thought it will open a door for her to pursue her childhood passion -- painting.

Two decades later, the 48-year-old from Jhabua is now known as a master of 'Bhil chitrakari', the traditional art of Bhil tribes who reside in parts of Rajasthan and MP. Bhuri Bai, who has been honoured with the MP government's 'Sikhar Samman' for art and the national level 'Devi Ahilya Bai Samman', has her works on display at the 'apna ghar' or the artisan's hut at the annual Suraj Kund Crafts Mela.

She says she imbibed the tradition of Bhil ritual painting since she was a child, working alongside her father to decorate village huts during festivals and weddings. "I had a fascination for colours and forms." 
"After marriage, along with my husband I came to Bhopal and started working as a daily wager at the site of Bharat Bhawan, an art centre then under construction," she says.

There she met eminent painter Jagdish Swaminathan, who changed the course of her life. "He asked me, can you make the traditional Bhil chitra done on the walls. Show me how you do it. I told him I am here to work as a labourer. He asked me how much do I get, I said Rs six per day. He said he will give me Rs 10 a day if I paint," Bhuri Bai recalls.