Patua ordinary traditional folk painters adept in drawing images. Their drawings are generally known as pata painting. Normally, they draw on a piece of cloth with figures of Hindu gods and goddesses or Muslim pirs and fakirs.
Patuas earn their livelihood by displaying their works accompanied by' music. They hold sessions where they display patachitras and narrate the stories in song. They were known as gains in the Jessore and Khulna regions. Patuas lived mostly in Dhaka, Mymensingh, Comilla, Noakhali, Sylhet, Faridpur, Jessore, Khulna, Barisal, Rajshahi and Dinajpur. After the partition of India, most of them moved to different areas in west bengal. Those who stayed back faced lack of patronisation and gradually changed their profession. A few patuas now live in Narsingdi, Munshiganj, Khulna, Jessore and Jamalpur regions, subsisting on selling pata painting at fairs, religious festivals, etc. Many Hindus collect pata painting with figures of gods and goddesses for worship.
A large section of patuas belong to the Gypsy community. Their wedding ceremony includes both Hindu and Muslim rituals. Married patua women wear conch-shell bangles around their wrists and dab vermilion in the parting of their hair. [Anwarul Karim]