The Mithila region situated in the southern Terai of Nepal (mainly in the Janakpur area) has unique cultural characteristics in that it is the home of a special method of painting images of gods and goddesses from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Prior to the introduction of Mithila painting on handicrafts and the Janakpur Women’s Development Project, little was known about the Mithila culture and crafts by outsiders or people from other parts of Nepal. The emergence and development of the market of handicrafts painted with Mithila designs over the last eight years have contributed significantly to the upliftment of the socio-economic status of many women in the region.
In the beginning, it was hard for these women to believe that their efforts could be worthwhile. Moreover, it was not an easy task to get them to work because of the oppressive circumstances in which they lived. They were not even allowed to talk to strangers and had to keep their veils on most of the time. With persistent efforts a few tourist resorts and hotels in Kathmandu started to use the painting made by these women to decorate the walls. That was the turning point and catalyst in the development of Mithila-based handicrafts. Vigorous marketing efforts followed through several exhibitions in Kathmandu, and the art became popular.