The former princely state of Cooch Behar, once ruled by the Koch dynasty is the abode of Sitalpati 'weavers'. Over 14,000 families have kept this traditional art alive. These weavers engage in the lengthy process of slicing, weaving and processing the cane. A simple natural colour variation of brown and white along with the weaver's creative patterns bring about the most intricately simple yet unique designs.
Department of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises & Textiles, Government of West Bengal, in collaboration with UNESCO has developed Rural Craft Hub at Ghughumari.
The newly developed Folk Art Centre in Ghughumari has a designed space dedicated to showcase the different aspects of this rich tradition to the visitors. The center also has office space, workshop space and accommodation for guests.
New Cooch Behar is the nearest railway station and half an hour’s drive away from Ghughumari. It takes about 2.5 hours by car to reach Ghughumari from Siliguri.
The Folk Art Centre has well-furnished guest rooms along with basic amenities available for the visitors. One can also stay at the hotels in Cooch Behar.
The two-storied Folk Art Centre is a designed space to showcase the craftsmanship of the artists to the visitors. The mission of the Folk Art Centre is to document the traditional heritage that includes process of production, source materials, social significance and present it to the visitors in a systematic way.
The center also shares the story of the artist community and display the traditional as well as diversified products made by them. Visitors can collect craft of their choice from the sales outlet and take with them as a souvenir.
Sitalpati is the most distinguished traditional rural handicrafts of Cooch Behar and has about 14,000 families weaving Pati in and around Ghugumari. Most of these families migrated from Tangail, Mymensingh, Pabna, Sirajgunje and Bikrampur areas of present day Bangladesh and settled in this region during and after the partition of Bengal.
Ghughumari is synonymous with 'Sital-Pati' or 'cool-mat. Woven from the green cane slips called Maranta Dichotoma (Muthra Reed), Sitalpatis are extremely comfortable and smooth. Men are engaged in growing and extracting the fibre while women do the weaving. The quality of the Sitalpati mat is judged by its glossiness, smoothness and fineness of texture. Mukta (pearl) is the common name as the fruits of the plant resemble pearls. According to local lore Lord Krishna wanted Radha to gift him pearls which Radha denied at prompting Krishna to sow a certain plant which grew instantly and bore seeds that resembled pearls.
A 3 day village fair "Sitalpati Mela" along with folk festival will be held on January 20-22, 2017.