The introduction of apprenticeship within the initiative increased the scope from just documenting this dying art to an additional possibility of keeping the art alive. Lalit, is a passionate young man, who has learned the basics of Likhai by himself and practiced it over the years. He never received any formal training in Likhai. However, coming from a carpentry background, he was good at grasping the skills of Likhai. The apprenticeship program provided a platform where Lalit served as an apprentice to the master, Gangaram (Bubu), learning the skills of craft from. So far Lalit is the only apprentice but the program aims to find more like him.
Gangaram Arya (Bubu), the last in a lineage of artisans, started learning Likhai when was 11 from his master Nari Ram and was adept at it by the time he was 17. Now, aged 89, he still practices Likhai and has produced a number of works throughout his lifetime. Most of his early works were based in nearby villages Peora, Soond and his own village Diyari. Later, as the number of artisans dwindled to the point where he was declared as the sole artisan of Likhai (Himani, 1999), his clientele expanded to regions much farther like Haldwani, Dehradun and Delhi.
Lalit, aged 21, is a carpenter by profession and an amateur artisan of Likhai. He developed a profound passion for Likhai when he was a 6 year old boy and saw Gangaram’s work displayed at a political function. Since then he has been following this passion of his with little help from outside. He would save 5-10 rupees over months to get tools made for himself. Over time, he also built a rapport with Gangaram by working informally as an apprentice for him.
The commissioning of the Jharokha
It took a bit of persuasion to get the master to take up the project which was unlike his regular projects. The arrangement was that he would produce a Jharokha for Amritha, and Lalit would be by his side helping and learning from him, while the KumaonBuild team would shadow them all day long, filming and documenting the complete process.
Project 1-Lalit making Jharokha(ek-dari)
Lalit, apart from assissting Gangaram in the making of Jharoka, was also working on one himself. Unlike Gangaram’s jharoka, his was a single dari but with the same motifs that he mimicked from Gangaram’s.
Over the duration of six weeks and the process of completing a Jharoka, Lalit was educated the language of the craft.
From 9 in the morning to 5 in the evening, Gangaram and Lalit worked together. Lalit assisting the old man with heavier tasks like wood-shaving and learning the finer skills of the craft from him. Towards the end Lalit had produced a Jharoka that was comparable to what his master had produced.
Project 2- Lalit working on a reflected ceiling
For Lalit’s training to continue, he was immediately commissioned for another piece of work which was more challenging than the previous. This was to create a reflected ceiling Likhai work inspired by one of Gangaram’s.