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RAJAT MISHRA | 18 APRIL, 2018

The Colourful Art of Trucking

A unique form of art on India’s roads


Art is omnipresent. While that’s true of all forms of art, in India there is one particular form that validates that statement, and that’s the colourful art of trucking.

This unique, often amusing, form of art is sure to grab eyeballs. It is an eclectic mix of popular phrases and gamut of symbols and colours. Popular phrases written at the back and around the body of trucks are at times political, sometimes they are messages of love and other times they are brimming with loneliness and isolation. “Has mat pagli pyaar ho jayega (Don’t laugh at me, you will fall in love with me), mera Bharat mahaan (My India is Great)” -- these kind of phrases wrapped up in myriad of colours and bedecked with beautiful miniature designs are enough to enamour anyone on the road.

The trucks adorned with this interesting and colourful art transform the dusty roads of India into a exhibition of colours and symbols. The art represents the true spirit of India -- that of diversity, colour, and even humour. This multicoloured and gleaming art form is quite revelatory and it is an extension of the personality of truck drivers. A truck driver from Punjab will have a part of his identity in the form of art on his truck -- be it a Punjabi phrase or a religious symbol.

Truck art also depicts the trucker’s state of mind. Often the art and messages reveal the political leanings of truckers as many have political statements on their trucks.

“As we remain out of our homes and on the roads for quite long time, our trucks are our second home. We decorate it as our bride,” says driver Shamser Singh.”It’s kind of a fierce competition between all truck drivers whose truck is most beautiful,” says driver Chemma Ram. It’s an unspoken bond -- the truckers passion passion for decorating their trucks.

Truck drivers take pride in the art on their vehicles.”The truck is our Laxmi, and in Hindu culture the Goddess has always to be decorated; we try our best to decorate our Godess Laxmi,”says Preetam Badshah. Region, beliefs, mentality, interests, politics -- a trucker’s whole identity is worn not on their sleeve but on their truck.

The photos below capture this unique aspect of life on India’s roads:

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