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Bringing Legends Back Alive on Walls: How Kohima Is Being Transformed Through Art

Started as an initiative to appreciate the role a community plays in one’s life, the painstakingly crafted murals are part of a larger project by a group of driven youngsters led by Sievituo Solo.

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The hilly capital of Nagaland, Kohima is probably one of the most picturesque towns in the country with its serene environs and fresh, unpolluted air, where life takes an unhurried pace—something jaded city dwellers would equate heaven to.

Home to the legendary tribe of the Nagas, every nook and corner of the city reflects a way of life that continues to remain attuned to its rich culture.

And if you happen to stroll by the roads and lanes of Kohima, you are quite likely to stumble across street walls with magnificent murals of local legends staring down at you.

The enchanting Wall murals. Courtesy: Project 72 Hours.

Started as an initiative to appreciate the role a community plays in one’s life, the painstakingly crafted murals are part of a larger project by a group of driven youngsters led by Sievituo Solo, who is more popularly known as Chevy.

Project 72 Hours was kickstarted in late 2015 with the sole intention of instilling a feeling of ownership amidst the people in the city through various community service initiatives.

“Every initiative we’ve undertaken is more like a giveback to the community. Just like how we take special care in beautifying our homes, we try doing the same in the city—which is nothing but an all-encompassing home for the entire community!” says Chevy to The Better India.

However, the idea struck the young man when he had been on a Southeast Asia tour in 2015 and happened to befriend many youngsters, all of whom he found to be actively involved in community service.

Cleaning streets. Courtesy: Project 72 Hours.

“Their zeal and dedication inspired me to the extent of prompting me to partake similar initiatives in Kohima as well. Just a few hours for the community, how hard could that be?” laughs the cheerful young man.

Pairing up with a group of friends who seemed to love Chevy’s idea, Project 72 Hours took form with the idea of dedicating 72 hours every year for the community.

This could be anything.

From collecting mounds of litter dumped in public places to installing beautiful sculptures, for the team, it is all about making their surroundings a better place to live.

Courtesy: Project 72 Hours.

With the tagline of their cleanliness drive campaign being, “I am Responsible”, these youngsters really emulate those words and don’t think twice before putting their hands in the sewers and drains to pick out the garbage blocking the flow.

Reaching out to localities, schools, colleges and anyone who shares the same passion, the team also spreads awareness amidst the folks about the benefits of segregating one’s waste and how the act proves beneficial to the city as a whole.

While volunteers have always teamed up with the group, Project 72 Hours has its motley group of 11 members, some of which are artists, musicians and sportspersons.

They are Responsible. Courtesy: Project 72 Hours.

The street art venture shaped up sometime in December 2015. “We have three extraordinary artists on board, who are the geniuses behind the illustrations. Bringing in the local heroes was a way of keeping in tune with our culture and history,” Chevy mentions proudly.

In a time where people seldom have time to even look beyond their phones, the walls of Kohima emblazoned with murals of fierce warriors have managed to snap out even the most aloof from their reverie to take a minute or two to appreciate the beautiful work around them.

“I can quite strongly say that our efforts are indeed making a difference. Because the paintings have changed the face of the streets they have been painted in, people actually think twice before littering the vicinity,” he mentions.

As of future plans, the team intends to stick to their resolution of giving back to the society as a lifelong commitment and continue organising different drives and initiatives.

The motley group with Chevy (second left). Courtesy: Project 72 Hours.

Currently, they meet every Saturday morning at 8 am and dedicate an hour to community service without fail.

“While the satisfaction of community service always remains, it is the idea of others being motivated enough to act consciously and responsibly through our gestures, that is the ultimate reward and best service to the community,” adds Chevy.

Project 72 Hours stands as a remarkable example of how the will to make a difference in the society when coupled with dedication and perseverance can actually transform a community for better—something that all of us can learn from.

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Written by Lekshmi Priya S

Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey's Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.