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Monday, November 29, 2021

A tradition broken by Covid-19, Dastkari Haat returns to Pune carrying crafts from across the country

Dastkari Haat gets underway at Dutch Palace on Bund Garden Road, Pune, from Saturday. Dastkari Haat Samiti has been supporting the crafts community of India and creating an artisan-buyer ecosystem for more than 35 years.

Written by Dipanita Nath | Pune |
Updated: November 13, 2021 7:26:51 am
Dastkari Haat Samiti, the organisation behind Dastkari Haat, has been supporting the crafts community of India and creating an artisan-buyer ecosystem for more than 35 years.

From inside the Naxal-dominated forests of Jharkhand comes a new grass-weaving group called Aadim Janjati Samhu with their ware of fine baskets. Patachitra artist Sirajudullah Chitrakar, on the other hand, creates scrolls and songs from West Bengal.

There are also saris in rare natural dyes, stationery made of handmade paper created from elephant dung — an organic raw material – from Jaipur, gold leaf embossed pichhwais from Rajasthan and glass objects and jewellery by an artist, Mahesh, from Firozabad. Add to this the soaring vocals of Mura Lala Marwada, who has featured in Coke Studio, and his group.

These are some of the attractions of the crafts heritage market, Dastkari Haat, which gets underway at Dutch Palace on Bund Garden Road, Pune, from Saturday (November 13).

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Dastkari Haat Samiti, the organisation behind Dastkari Haat, has been supporting the crafts community of India and creating an artisan-buyer ecosystem for more than 35 years. During the lockdown, they worked with craftspeople to provide rations and support systems, financial aid for rent, school fees and urgent medical treatment and creative inputs.

“What I saw was that the majority of artisans are resilient. Their life is a fightback, so they were proactive and skilful during the pandemic. They fought back creatively. Many organisations worked with craftspeople during the lockdown, helping with relief in early ays and, then, with rehabilitation,” says Jaya Jaitly, President of Dastkari Haat Samiti who has spent a lifetime crusading for craftspeople.

Dastkari Haat was a fixture of the city’s cultural calendar for six years before it was interrupted by Covid-19. Now, it returns with almost 90 stalls that will showcase traditional artefacts and new designs.

“Several times during the pandemic, the artisans took us by surprise. Once, some of our traditional artists, who always have a problem selling their paintings, suddenly began to create works in which they put masks on the faces of the figures. We used a lot of them in our illustrations and so on. We also did good business just from the masks that we got textile artisans to make in about 20 different parts of India,” says Jaitly.

There is a new range of products, including from areas from where the craft has rarely been brought out into the market before, such as baskets from Sitapur, brought by the Mon Ami Foundation, a range of durries and paintings that Warli artists have made with Covid imagery.

“We came to Pune in November of 2019 and, by March-end, Covid was on us. We kept monitoring the situation in the city, which was going through a bad patch. In Pune, we have a welcoming crowd that keeps asking us for months over Facebook when we are coming. People are receptive and appreciative of crafts and have made friends with many craftspeople. Now, after two years, we hope to come back with a bang and make the experience special for ourselves and everybody else,” says Jaitly.

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