Prayagraj Allahabad has a new name, the city also has a new look. From the railway station to the civil lines, from Arail village to the Sangam area , about 300 murals have brightened the city’s landscape. Even the trees on the Arail road have been painted in bold, barking colours. Kumbh 2019 is less than a fortnight away and Prayagraj already looks like an open-air art gallery.
The murals are largely Hindu mythological in content. Scenes of Samudra Manthan mentioned in the Puranas have been recreated . In times when building a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is among the hottest political topics of the season, Ram, Sita and Hanuman are well-represented on the city’s walls. One of them, in flaming red and bold yellow, just says “Jai Shri Ram”. Medieval saints such as Kabir and Sankaracharya also find a place. So do scenes from the common pilgrim’s life: women praying at the ghats, for instance. Buildings have been symmetrically painted to create the feel of a temple in some murals.
The painted trees depict a wide variety of animals. Looking at them a child can be taught to spot a penguin, a zebra, a giraffe, and more. Some are just geometric representations. The angry Hanuman is one of the paintings. The initiative is inventive but it does raise the question whether the paint would end up hurting the trees. “Tree-friendly painting material was used to ensure that their health is not damaged,” says Ashish Kumar Goyal, commissioner, Allahabad .
DM (Kumbh Mela) Vijay Kiran Anand says the idea of “Paint My City” was to ensure community participation. “It was meant to conserve heritage and beautify the city as well as highlight Union government campaigns such as Namami Gange,” he says. Among the flagship programmes of the Narendra Modi government, the project had the ambitious objective of reducing pollution of the river and help its rejuvenation. Quite a few murals carry the Namami Gange logo.
Several organisations, such as Delhi Street Art, took part in the project. “About 100 painters with street art experience from my team alone were involved in the job from October to December. Five of them came from foreign countries such as the UK, Russia and US,” says Yogesh Saini, founder, Delhi Street Art.
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