Sama Chakewa is a festival to celebrate the bond between sisters and brothers (similar to Rakshya Bandhan) originating from the Mithila region of the subcontinent. It is performative in nature, where families and communities come together to make clay sculptures, sing songs, enjoy folk theatre and so on. The sculptures represent characters in the story of Sama Chakewa.
The legend tells the story of Sama, a daughter of Lord Krishna who had been falsely accused of wrongdoing. Krishna punished her by turning her into a bird, but the love and sacrifice of her brother eventually allowed her to regain human form. The idols for the festival are made using clay and are eventually submerged in the river at the end of the festival, on Kartik Purnima.
Bijay Kumar Dutta has been actively engaged in Mithila painting, making idol sculptures, handicrafts, research, preservation, and providing training for more than four decades.
Mira Devi Dutta continues to practice Mithila painting, sing folk songs and teach painting for almost thirty years. She is also an expert in Mithilanchal cuisine.
Their daughter, Priyanka Karna, also started painting in 2008. Her particular expertise is in making Aripan (Bhumichitra). She is pursuing a Bachelor of Education degree. The family currently lives and works in Dhanusha, Janakpurdham.
(Photographs by: Sheelasha Rajbhandari)