The Maitili are a group of people from the South of Nepal. The annual tradition there is to re-plaster the huts with a mix of clay, rice stalk clippings and cow dung and then paint it artistically to garner the gods' protection.
The motifs for these are primarily the gods themselves as well as scenes from their lives oriented towards traditional myths. That is why many of the Maitili people are very talented painters.
There are many from this group amongst the Shanti residents. When Marianne Großpietsch discovers that someone is one of the Maitili people, she asks them directly if they can paint. Using this method, she has already discovered lots of latent talent.
Jogendra and Reika, for example. They are responsible for the colourful design in the stairwells of the Shanti station in Kathmandu and especially in the clinic. There is likely no other hospital on earth that is painted as beautifully!
As a child, Jogendra contracted leprosy. He grew up on the Indian border and went to India after his family cast him out, but found no support there, either.
He returned to Nepal and met Reika, who would become his wife and give birth to four children. Both of them are from the Maitili group and possess a natural talent for colourful, ornamental painting. They generally paint freehand, without any templates!
Nathuni is another one of these hidden talents. He contracted leprosy as a youth and was cast out by his father with the words, “The gods have cursed you!”. By coincidence in Pokhara he heard about Shanti in Kathmandu, and he learned from a TV broadcast that leprosy is not a divine punishment, but rather a treatable infectious disease.
It wasn't until he arrived at Shanti that he discovered his talent for painting – quite coincidentally, because Marianne asks newcomers what they enjoy doing. When he couldn't answer, she encouraged him to try out painting and see how he liked it. It soon became clear that Nathuni has a very special talent for it.
The beautiful garlands and motifs for the Shanti newsletters come from his hand, marked by leprosy with contorted fingers. He also painted the draft for the background of the organisation's website on this homepage.
Due to leprosy, Nathani has already undergone nine surgeries on his eyes. Fortunately, his vision could be maintained.
Prem Kumari contracted leprosy at nine years of age. She is one of the most gifted Maitili painters and creates large, colourful wall coverings. Her motifs primarily show everyday scenes from village life and festival throughout the Nepalese year.
This serves as a testament to good childhood memories, and the people can be proud of their origin and their traditions.
Maitili painters also design postcards, letters and metal luck charms – stars and especially elephants. If their trunk is turned upwards, then it means good luck!