Meenakshi Khati, a 24-year-old history graduate from Ramnagar town in Uttarakhand, is making a significant impact by reviving and promoting the ancient art of Aipan in the Kumaon region. Known as the 'Aipan Girl,' Meenakshi has transformed this traditional folk art into a source of livelihood for thousands of people.
Aipan, a form of art believed to invoke divine power and bring good fortune while preventing evil, is created using saffron-red mud color called 'geru' collected from forests and rice starch known as 'Biswar' paste. Meenakshi's fascination with Aipan started at a young age when she observed her family creating intricate designs on special occasions.
Driven by her passion, Meenakshi dedicated three years to studying the history and origin of Aipan, collaborating with renowned historians and scholars. She discovered that Aipan art has its roots in the Chand dynasty of the 8th century.
With the aim of popularizing the art among youngsters and linking it to employment, Meenakshi launched the 'Meenakriti - The Aipan Project' in December 2019. Through offline and online training programs, she has empowered over 8,000 trainers, including women self-help groups, in Uttarakhand and other parts of the country.
The Uttarakhand government is currently celebrating a fortnight of Aipan Art, showcasing the vibrant red-colored Aipan designs through wall paintings, greeting cards, and nameplate designs. Meenakshi's vision and achievements have elevated Aipan art to new heights, ensuring its continued legacy and cultural significance.