Monday, March 17, 2014

Traditional Indian artists for a sustainable living

Food, clothing, arts and crafts generally mirrors the culture of a civilization. These avenues  also augment/boosts the economy of a country. These are mass produced through technical excellence which increases speed and quantity but the real challenge is to produce them through human and environment friendly methods.

Given the current crisis in agriculture, handloom weaving, traditional arts like pottery, handmade traditional crafts, painting etc., there is a large scale migrations of youth out of villages. These rural migrants contribute to the rising number of workers as construction wagers or other unskilled work force which is emerging as the largest urban livelihood. There is no place for upward mobility for the migrants with scarce resources.

Even the few left in the rural areas find it difficult to lead a reasonable livelihood. It was at Bidar, I realized that a bidriware craft 'Surahi' sold for Rs 800 in the hotel souvenir shop was sold at less than half rate of rs 350 by the artisans at the craft cottage. I had even blogged about it here. The middleman guzzles the amount while the artisans get paltry sum for their labour. Due to the unreasonable labor charges, the bidri craft is almost dying. Most of them live in dingy rooms which are  not properly lit. I have heard similar stories from many crafts person during the annual crafts mela at Shilparamam.

The responsibility before society is to encourage the rural economy by supporting Indian farmers, weavers and artisans thus indirectly contributing towards a sustainable environment and help them in marketing their products to the outer world and also help retain the cultural identity of our country.

This post draws attention to one such story of the patachitra artists of heritage arts and crafts village of Raghurajpur, Odisha. Watch the below video and see how the creative artists are underappreciated

Read more about them at Traditional artists, Modern Gallery

This post is my contribution to Tata capital's  Doright -halfstories - The journey of doing right.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My most memorable memento - Pallankuzhi

Most of us have some prized possessions or precious keep sakes, they may not be expensive in cost but their presence  gives us comfort vibes. Some possessions are brought, some gifted and some come as heirlooms. Those that come as heirlooms represent our family history and are loaded with family memories. Every time you run your fingers over them or see them it could give you tingles and that “feel good” factor.

I have inherited many such heirlooms some of which are my precious keepsakes. Each treasure comes with a special story that makes me feel blessed to be a part of this lovely family.

Among the many I have, my most treasured heirloom is the Pallankuzhi. It is a native game of India which was more popular much before the satellite era. It comes with a foldable panel and has two sides. Each side has 7 cavities into which coins are dropped. Coins are in the form of tamarind seeds/ cowries. In days of yore, this game aided people in counting and also every time you drop the coin or swipe the cavity, the nerve ending on your fingertips gets activated which developed not just motor skills but also sensory skills like visual skills and hand/eye co-ordination. But, more than all this, was a fun game for me whenever I visited my Grandparents place. We cousins would play against each other/ with our aunts, uncles & grand mom. The game suitable for all ages was not complicated and helped young ones bond with the elders.

Of all the cousins, it was I who was fond of this game and so  paati many years later gave it to me and ever since then this  pallankuzhi which stores some of my childhood family moments is with me.  

I did not want to take away the antiquity of the brown teak wood piece and so added an antique finish polish which still retains its history. My most cherished heirloom occupies a place of pride in my home. Whenever there is a dull moment, all I have to do is put the coins in the cavity and a cloak of warmth engulfs me and makes me misty with happiness.

This post is my entry for the ‘My Most Memorable Memento’ contest conducted by My Yatra Diary travel blog and Indian Coupons."

 I tag SG, Shilpa Garg & Usha menon for this contest.