Artist Kanchan Jadli is making cute illustrations about the culture of Uttarakhand, and it's adorable!

Mishkaat Imrani
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culture of Uttarakhand

Kanchan and her Pahadi 'Lati' are here to tell you everything about the beautiful culture of the Pahadi community! Artist Kanchan Jadli is making illustrations showcasing the culture of Uttarakhand, and if you have not seen her work, you are definitely missing out on some amazing stuff.

After working for 2 years as a freelance artist, Kanchan Jadli returned to her homeland during the lockdown. Kanchan, who is a wanderlust, has travelled extensively in rural Himalaya and spent the whole lockdown in her village. During her stay, she felt like expressing her love for Pahadi culture. At the same time, she wanted to address the issues faced in rural Himalayas through her art. This thought subsequently led to the creation of 'Lati', a cartoon character that shows Pahadi culture in the cutest way possible. Local Samosa was in a candid conversation with Kanchan about her journey of making illustrations reflecting the culture of Uttarakhand. 

" Lati(लाटि) means a silly little girl in both Gadhwali and Kumaoni languages. I wanted to create Pahadi characters like me but also wanted them to be someone with whom every Pahadi could connect. So I came up with a typical Pahadi character. One of the reasons why I chose to make cartoons is that they attract kids a lot. But, why that's important? Well, these kids bear the responsibility for taking our culture forward. So, through Lati, I connect people to different sides of Uttarakhand like tourism, language, dialects, folklore, folk tales, pilgrimage, food, history, and festivals.", Kanchan says.

Kanchan feels people living in the Himalayas have the knowledge about life that should be preserved and carried forward. It's an amalgamation of their simple, self-sufficient, minimalistic lifestyle, and reverence to nature. Also, their understanding of organic and sustainable farming, knowledge about fauna is noteworthy too. " So, that's why I came up with a simple cartoon series." Along with showcasing the culture of Uttarakhand she also aims to cover current issues like environmental degradation, wildlife and forest loss, migration, and unsustainable tourism. " I have made art to pay tribute to our heroes like Gaura Devi, Narendra Singh Negi, Sunderlal Bahuguna Ji, and more.", she adds.

Through her art, Kanchan is spreading awareness about the issues of rural Himalayas. Her messages are simple and the way she illustrates them can be easily grasped by the masses. She feels during these times where we have a majority population of viewers and not readers, art can be used potentially to create awareness. In other words, it can bring attention to people to much-needed issues. " Social media is a great platform to connect people, so I want to use this platform to not let our rich culture fade away.", adds Kanchan.

Until very recently Kanchan was using realistic oil and was making water paintings along with detailed stippling works for clients or exhibitions. But when she thought of making art for the local people and a larger audience across social media she had to come up with something simpler. " So, I switched to cartooning. Moreover, I bought an iPad with all my savings, downloaded Procreate app, and started cartooning for the first time.", she mentions.

Kanchan finds her inspiration from the work of RK Lakshaman Ji, and Rohan Chakravarty, creator of 'Green Humour'. Her work is simple, cute, warm, and filled with love. Be it the fun conversations of Lati with other characters, or Lati's interesting and funny dialogues, or other illustrations reflecting the culture of Uttarakhand, Kanchan's work lets you take a dive into its serenity.

It looks flawless and perfect, but there's a lot of work that Kanchan has to put in each time. Sharing her thoughts on the most challenging projects she says, "One of them is about making a map of Uttarakhand showing the traditional dresses worn by women. There was very little information online and very few images to get references from. So, I contacted many people to help me gather the content. Many of my followers sent me old pictures from their family album showing their traditional dresses.", mentioned Kanchan. And it seems like it did pretty well for her. This costume series is brilliantly done. It shows different attire people wear in different regions, and it's not just pretty, but informative too.

"Another rewarding work was a cartoon and short animation that I made for the Ghughutiya festival. It's a local festival that is celebrated on makar-Sankranti. I noticed that there was no drawing/poster to share on WhatsApp or to put up on their stories of our local festivals, so when I made this it was a huge success, it got 50k views when I had less than 1k followers back then. Also, I was flooded with messages from my friends and family with screenshots showing me how they got my cartoon forward from their friend.", Kanchan said happily. This does not only brings a wide smile to faces, but with its colorful vibe and happy background music, it changes your mood too.

Kanchan is new to Dehradun but she really likes it. In just one illustration how she has encapsulated Dehradun's beauty is impressive. From chai to momos, to more, this piece of art is totally relatable for all those who are from Dehradun. " The weather here is lovely and one can see a range of mountains from the roof. I made a collage showing the essence of Dehradun-the city of love.", adds Kanchan, and we agree with her for sure!

Illustrating and making cartoons is definitely what Kanchan lives for. It's her passion, but wondering what this talented artist would have been doing if not illustrating? This is what she has to say! " I would have rather set up a homestay in the Himalayas. In other words, I just can't part with mountains, I was born here and I want to die here."

Success may have different definitions, but how Kanchan defines it is beautiful. She says the biggest success is when she gets messages from people telling how their children love her art. " They tell me how they dance with the cartoons. So, people thanking me for my effort to preserve disappearing culture are my energy source."

Quick 3

3 things you would recommend to someone to do who is visiting Uttarakhand: Firstly, try looking for a homestay as you will get to taste authentic food there. In cities like Dehradun, there are many restaurants that serve Pahadi thali. Secondly, as Uttarakhand is an ecologically fragile place, so I would like to urge people visiting Uttarakhand to not litter around and be sensitive about the wildlife here.

Food to have in Uttarakhand: The food of Uttarakhand is known for its simplicity and rich nutrition. The traditional food is not just simple to make, but its ingredients are also easily available. When in Uttarakhand you must try the native fruit here. Pisyun loon(flavourful salt) is something you must buy and carry with you back home.

Places to visit: Uttarakhand is still very much unexplored. Also, It has a lot of hidden and raw gems. The best time to visit Uttarakhand is the winter season, the roads are difficult but the beauty of mountains during snowfall is all worth it. The most famous and must-visit place in Uttarakhand has to be Kedarnath, it's a heavenly experience.

We are totally in love with how Kanchan Jadli is creating a buzz about the gorgeous culture of Uttarakhand. So, don't forget to check Lati and her friends on Instagram here, and get lost in the warmth of the culture of Uttarakhand with them. Also, tell us which of her illustrations are your favourite in the comment section below

Also Read: ‘C’ for Constitution, ‘E’ for Education…. Learn the ‘Inqilab alphabets’ created by Sarah Modak, the illustration artist from Mumbai!

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