The black ink, we make by lighting a lamp and then covering it. The ink is made from the ashes of the burnt oil. For orange, we peel and grind Peepal and then boil it. For yellow, we collect the stems of the Singhar flower and dry them. Blue is made from the Sikket fruit and red from Rose flowers.
We used to draw on the walls of our homes. When outsiders came to our village, they saw the paintings we did on the walls, and they suggested we paint on paper. It was Bhaskar Kulkarni who came and gave us this idea, so we started painting like this.
Our grandmothers and mothers-in-law all had their bodies covered with tattoos (godna). Their legs and arms were covered with elephants and horses. They used seven needles and the black ink.
These days, we only have a few tattoos. But until we have drawn on our bodies, we are not pure, the gods will not touch us, we cannot perform pujas. We become pure through these godnas. So these days we still have a few drawings on our bodies, to become pure.
Urmila Devi led our Khel Mel workshop in November 2015 at the Crafts Museum, New Delhi