Few years back when I was in college one day I shared with my friend (now my husband) an idea to urbanize the traditional handicraft from different states, then I forgot about it and got busy with my white collar career, last week when Mint Lounge shared the story of Laila Tyabji, the woman behind Dastakar and her journey of 30 years, I was once again reminded of my long forgotten dream but at the same time I felt so thrilled to know that somebody is been thinking and working so hard to prevent Indian handicraft from dying.
Dastakar is a society of Indian craftsmen founded by six thoughtful women in 1981, while all these years only Laila ji continued working with Dastakar, and now she is the Urban face of Dastakar Nature’s Bazaar held all over India in different metros and cities. Dastakar provides a platform for crafts and craftsmen from different states of India to showcase their handicraft; with a basic ticket entry of Rs.30 you can have the privilege of enjoying the true culture of India.
This year Dastakar Nature’s Bazaar was organized at Manpho Convention Grounds from 8th to 17th Aug, some people shared their dislike for the venue, parking facilities, food stalls but I found none annoying because I was so mesmerized by the beautiful work of craftsmen, well organized stalls, polite staff and a huge counter to provide card payment facility. It is not an expensive designer fashion week where you expect valet parking, air conditioned stalls or gourmet food, it is the place to celebrate culture of India, which has already faded from our memories. I carried along with myself filtered water, a well devised GPS system to find directions to the venue and some packaged snacks though I relished the Kachori and Samosa cooked and served by a Rajasthani family, which were scrumptious.
Each stall at Dastakar has something unique to offer, distinctive and of supreme quality, with certain expensive commercialized brands selling machine made products in the name of Indian handicraft Dastakar makes sure it’s Urban Clientele gets the authentic and quality Indian handicraft. There are craft stalls from almost each state of India offering medley of colorful masterpieces, each handmade by skillful craftsmen during the year for the Dastakar Bazaar, there is blue pottery from Rajasthan, wooden furniture from Uttar Pradesh, silk sarees and material from Banares, Kantha embroideries from Bengal, tribal jewellery from Orissa, embroidery and patchwork from Kutch, Madhubani and phad paintings, herbs and organic produce from Uttarakhand these are the few stalls I remember, there are many other footwear, accessories, home decor, souvenir and handloom stalls.
After ages I enjoyed Rajasthani folk songs live by a bunch of folk singers and it really made me miss my college days in Rajasthan, there are some craft workshops as well to engage kids and for adults who want to have a hands on experience of craftsmanship. I overheard few ladies mumbling about the high prices, when we can empty our wallets in any foreign brand outlet then why not on something which is worth every single penny, handmade and contributing towards saving our rich cultural heritage.
My shopping bag was overloaded with herbs and natural oils from Uttarakhand, Manipuri black pottery, hand painted terracotta pottery, souvenirs from Jugaad, Madhubani painting, tribal accessories from Orissa and one handloom silk scarf. Dastakaar is been organized in different cities every year, so if you have missed this year’s don’t worry there is always next time.