It is not about the money; it is about the culture. This was the sentiment of Marvin Mahadeo, Patna Village resident and one of two organisers of the village’s Divali light up celebrations held last Sunday.
For the second consecutive year, life size handcrafted bamboo structures depicting grandiose figures such as a two-headed cobra, giraffe, vintage car, and elephant were erected alongside the street and illuminated with hundreds of deyas placed in wire holders on the bamboo.
With the success of last year’s light up, Mahadeo explained some corporate entities sought their talent for the Divali season, but he remained steadfast in his commitment to his community above all.
“We could have gone out there and made money but it's not about the money. We prefer to devote ourselves and do it for the village,” he said. “If you put money in front of this, you could get damaged. All that bamboo I bent, and I didn’t get a cut or scrape. Why? Because I do it with a clean heart. When you’re doing something with a clean heart, good things happen to you. Good things come to those who wait.”
In his commitment to transparency within the village, Mahadeo discouraged monetary donations from villagers, urging them to instead donate necessary items such as oil, wick, and deyas while he provided out of pocket funds for any other expenses.
Though many parts of the country celebrated the festival of lights by lighting up their neighbourhoods, Mahadeo explained that Patna Divali was unlike any other as it welcomed visitors from across the nation with its unique creations.
“We have people from quite Marabella telling us they never saw art craft like this before,” he said. “We’re doing the kind of artwork here that you don't find everywhere.”
This year, thanks to social media, Mahadeo received international feedback from people as far as Russia who praised the handmade bamboo structures.
“(A German woman) commented that she had been all over the place, but she never saw anything like this,” he said. “She’s seen similar work in places like China, but they are doing bamboo work with machines. We do it naturally with a cutlass alone.”
The resident artist, who preferred not to be named, is well known in the community for his exceptional artwork not just in bamboo but in wood carving and other artistic mediums. With a vast number of years of experience under the artist’s belt, Mahadeo explained that creating these magnificent structures has become second nature to him.
“The man who's doing this is very versed. He'll take about a day and a half just to do a helicopter while a bike will take a half day,” he said. “Because of how experienced he is, he’s now (making them) really quick.”
With another successful light up to date, Mahadeo hopes that the festival will see growth and support and continue to preserve this part of the village’s cultural identity that shone bright decades before.
“We are trying to get support from businesses for next year because we would like to have a dance performance or a band just to give people more of a reason to come and enjoy the festival,” he said. “This is our culture and we want people to experience this for generations to come.”