"We knew about colour combinations, but lailaben has taught us that the borders and the butas have to be matched too. Sometimes a contrast is good.A delicate jaal goes with a strong bold border. Just like a delicate wife needs a strong husband. "
Loyd Gee in 'Crafts and Development in Kutch - A future'


Calendar of Events

BAZAARS & EXHIBITIONS FIELD VISITS WORKSHOPS ACHIEVEMENTS INTERNATIONAL
MAP FOR DIRECTIONS

Dastkar Bazaars and Exhibitions are the visible side to the work that Dastkar undertakes to improve the livelihoods of craftspeople and their wider communities by providing regular marketing platforms at which the craftsperson gets to directly experience the urban marketplace, its trends and demands; as well as interact and sell directly to the crafts consumer thereby learning what their expectations are, which designs appeal to them and which products require adaptation to these needs.

The benefits of organising and holding these regular Dastkar Bazaars and Exhibitions are multiple. The craftsperson becomes directly aware of quality requirements as well as the positive results of creative innovation (Dastkar also organises Design Development Workshops). The proceeds of sales made at these events goes directly back to benefit the craftgroup and the wider dependent community (their families as well as resource-provider groups like shepherds, silk cocoon rearers, organic farmers, grass cutters and coconut or lac gatherers). The urban consumer is exposed to the incredible range, variety and richness of the unique craft traditions and styles of the handlooms and handcrafts from the many regions across the states of India. Dastkar seeks to establish a mutual respect and appreciation between craft consumer and craftsperson through this direct interaction.

By providing the means of sustaining and improving the economic activity of craftspeople, Dastkar supports the income-generation that leads to self-sufficiency and economic independence of artisans, thereby enabling the survival (and sometimes even the revival) of traditional crafts, along with the techniques and skills that are the intangible heritage in the hands of the craftsperson.


REPORTS

Dastkar is a Delhi-based organisation, and as such most of its events have been held in the capital city. However, from its inception Dastkar has aimed to make quality and authentic traditional crafts with a contemporary feel available to craft enthusiasts all over the country. Dastkar has therefore organised wherever and whenever possible its Bazaars and Exhibitions in other cities as well.

After Delhi, Bangalore has been the most important city to regularly host Dastkar's marketing activities. The Bangalore customers have shown increasing enthusiasm and support for the Dastkar Bangalore Bazaars, being delighted at the exposure these events give them to the great diversity of crafts coming from across the country and representing a wide range of craft traditions and styles.

Dastkar is an NGO functioning on a limited budget; constantly walking a tight-rope to stretch out the funds on which it is able to operate. It continues to be able to provide its support services thanks mainly to grants and donations. Dastkar therefore often needs to be as creative as the craftspeople it supports in order to maintain the programme of Dastkar Bazaars and Exhibitions due to ever-spiralling venue costs and rentals or the unavailability of suitable locations. But, as is so often the case in life, hardships can reveal hidden treasures! Such has been the recent experience of Dastkar in finding inspirational new partners like CCCRT (Centre for Cultural Resource and Training) in Dwarka, or the Chennai-based Kalakshetra Foundation, who have both been of invaluable assistance in helping Dastkar to maintain the Bazaars that craft lovers eagerly anticipate each year.

DELHI NATURE BAZAAR - 2011

Dastkar has been organising its much anticipated annual Nature Bazaar for 18 consecutive years. In 2011 Dastkar Nature Bazaar was held over a 12-day period at the Crafts Museum, Delhi, with over 1 Lakh visitors united by a common appreciation and enthusiasm for crafts.

The Crafts Museum setting provided a perfect ambience of colour, festivity and vibrant fun as well as educational activities. Interspersed throughout the event were a series of folk performances, puppet shows, music, dance and interactive workshops and demonstrations on craft and environment, alongside the craft stalls of 160 craftgroups and NGO participants.

The event had a Camel Theme. Dastkar encouraged the craftspeople to use this theme to innovate with new products, motifs and designs, using both Nature and references from traditional Indian art and craft as their inspiration. Prizes were distributed to the best three camel-inspired products, ranging from camel milk soap to Dhokra figures, all of which were showcased at a 'Camel' stall.

The Crafts Museum also organized a special exhibit of "The Camel in Craft" in their Exhibitions Gallery, with items on the camel theme sourced from their reserve collection. This provided not only added interest for the visitor, but also a great opportunity for Dastkar craftspeople to use the exhibits as a source of inspiration for future design development.

This edition of Nature Bazaar showcased design initiatives taken by Dastkar in partnership with Accor Foundation (France) which had over the previous two years been supporting Dastkar's product development and outreach activities with several craftgroups from different regions and working in a variety of materials from tussar silk to golden grass and leather.

A distinct Design Section showcased exciting new designs developed by 15 young designers and organizations using traditional crafts and textiles in exciting, innovative ways to make apparel, home accessories, bags, gift items & furniture. It was a source of joy and pride to Dastkar that grassroots crafts organisations now formed a major part of the Design Section, and that they increasingly realised the importance of attention to design innovation and new product development.

At Nature Bazaar 2011, the 160 participant craftgroups from 19 Indian states showcased an incredible range of hand crafted products, from natural fibres (banana, cane, bamboo, Sikki & golden grass, jute and wood), textiles (weaves, block prints, embroideries, patchwork appliqué, garments and soft furnishings), folk jewellery, toys, leather, pottery, painting, home accessories, gift and decorative items; many in traditional craft techniques but using designs adapted to the contemporary lifestyles and tastes of Delhi-ites.

There were also organic food grains, herbal products, handmade paper, and bags made from recycled waste; as well as cane, reed and wooden furniture, and items in Dhokra, iron, Bidri and brass. .

During this Nature Bazaar, a special 4-day exhibit of shawls, stoles and scarves made in a ground-breaking new felted cashmere technique was also held. Visitors were struck by this innovative and tactile new range, and the subtle play of natural cashmere shades, interlaid with tussar, silk, and alpaca yarns.

AIACA featured work done by crafts organisations in the areas of natural or organic fibres, natural dyes, recycled products, the use of production processes involving water harvesting and recycling, effluent treatment, and renewable energy.

Hari Om Sharanam Group organized folk performances of music and dance from different states. The Pabuji ki Phad phad painting performance featured for the first time at Nature Bazaar. Adding to the lively ambience was a Been performance by the Shishanath Troupe performed by musicians dressed in colourful attire.

The Craft Workshops at Nature Bazaar 2011 got a huge response, especially from children who showed great excitement and enthusiasm. Over 300 adults as well as children from various schools and institutions attended these workshops. The objective was to educate people, especially the urban young, about different craft techniques and the multiple processes involved in making handcrafted products, while keeping these educational activities interactive and fun.

15 different workshops were organized during Nature Bazaar ranging from Sanjhi paper-cutting and basket weaving, to Madhubani and Phad painting and terracotta pottery.

The participative workshops were enjoyed by children as well as their parents. They were delighted with the idea of learning about Indian culture and craft heritage through practical hands-on interactions with artisans. Positive feedback was received from all the parents and there were repeat visits as well.

Craft Demonstrations were carried out in mat weaving, Gourd decorating, Pattachitra painting, Ari embroidery, Patti ka Kaam, Gond painting and candle-making.

Additional activities included showing documentaries on crafts and artisans produced by AIACA (All India Artisans and Crafts Workers Welfare Associations) & Dastkar, as well as theatre workshops and street plays on social issues by Steps for Change.

The Dastkar Food Court is always popular because of its variety and authenticity. This year had Rajasthani & South Indian cuisine, as well as the ever popular Chaat stall, Hyderabadi Biryani and Kulfi stand.

Dastkar Nature Bazaars are a learning ground, a space to test-market new products and designs, an opportunity to interact directly with craft customers, to attract bulk wholesale and export orders. It is also a coming together of organizations, individuals, craftspeople and consumers who share common beliefs in people, nature and craft tradition. This interaction, communication and collaboration builds the potential that guarantees a viable and sustainable future for the millions of craftspeople and thousands of crafts communities that contribute to the economic mainstream of the country.

DASTKAR WINTER WEAVES EXHIBITION - 2012

Winter Weaves was the 1st exhibition-sized event Dastkar, in conjunction with Delhi Tourism, held at the new permanent Nature Bazaar, Kisan Haat, Delhi venue.

55 craftgroups participated in this smaller-scale more product-specific event. Included were two grouped sections; Kutch textile craft traditions and Accor Foundation design workshop craftgroups.

Visitors were complimentary on the ambience, event aesthetic and product quality and range. Once again people expressed the keen anticipation with which Dastkar events are looked forward to; some came from as far as Noida and Rohini - so clearly distance is no bar to the keen Delhi crafts enthusiast!

This Winter Weaves exhibition was focused on seasonal silks, woollen weaves and knits, as well as durries. Silk handlooms were presented with techniques ranging from block-printing and the tie-dye skills of Bandhani and Shibori, to tussar weaves with Kantha embroidery or Ajrakh-printed silks with Kashmiri embroideries. / 9 Kutch shawl groups showcased fine Suf embroidery, the rich variety of Rabari embroideries, a diversity of traditional weaving patterns and innovations in weave and dye combinations including the use of organic dyes. The softest pashmina stoles and shawls were well-represented with craftgroups increasingly careful of quality and ethical sourcing of this rare wool. High quality Kullu and Kinnauri shawls were available alongside modern and innovative knitted woollen garments and accessories.

Leather artisans from Rajasthan, multi-coloured fibre products, quilts and bedspreads, ready-made garments as well as organic pulses, preserves and honey rounded off the quality products on offer at Winter Weaves.

Dastkar was happy to observe that the quality of the craft goods of many grassroots craftgroups was of high enough standard to hold their own in the company of designer-led participants of more sophisticated handloom products like those of Mura Collective, Pracheen or Rehwa. This is certainly a sign of the good health of craftgroups from the Dastkar network that have been benefitting from Dastkar's input in skills training, design innovation and product development amongst other support services.

It was exciting to observe the innovative and dynamic collaborative efforts of craftspeople from different craft styles and widely different regions, intuitively and independently finding ways to develop new and unique craft products for the urban customer. This was an uplifting demonstration of the value and role Dastkar events play in providing a space where craftspeople, often isolated and unexposed to the wider world, can meet, share, learn and exchange with counterparts from across the country; finding ways in which to both preserve and perpetuate each one's unique regional traditions and skills.

In true Dastkar tradition, craft demonstrations, cultural performances and a curated exhibition were also part of the wider Winter Weaves exhibition experience.

There were demonstrations of tussar silk spinning & weaving including the representation of all the stages of the creation of the silk yarn by showing samples of silk worm cocoons, the rough unspun fibres and then the final spun thread. It was an effective idea to have these samples suspended from the loom on which a tussar fabric was being painstakingly woven, one weft thread at a time!

Another narrow loom demonstrated Kutch shawl weaving and the way 2 completed woven lengths are then stitched or embroidered together to make a typical Kutchi shawl.

Spinners carried out wool spinning demonstrations as well. Here too it was an opportunity to share and to learn from one another. It was nice to see wool and silk spinners and weavers take interest and compare each other's skills and techniques.

For both adult visitors and children it was clearly an eye-opener as to what complex and labour-intensive techniques go into making the beautiful products to be found at the surrounding stalls!

Sunaina Suneja brought her wonderful Gandhiji themed exhibition, 'Bapu through the eyes of craftspeople', based on the craftperson's interpretation of what Gandhiji represented to them and shown through their different craft techniques. The exhibition intrigued and interested many visitors as they saw illustrated many different types of crafts on a single central subject. The theme was depicted in Madhubani, Pattachitra, Warli, Sanjhi, Bandhani, Mata ne Pachedi, appliqué and Miniature painting.

Another feature of this year's Winter Weaves was the presence of a 22x10ft wall hanging 'The Crafted Forest', a wonderfully colourful and vibrant patchwork of appliqué and Ari embroidery created by craftswomen of Banaskantha in association with Dastkar. This wall hanging so delighted visitors that many posed for pictures in front of it!

Winter Weaves also included cultural performances by a traditional Himachal Pradesh Kulvi Naati folk dance troupe. In their colourful costumes, headdresses and footwear the 10 dancers brought a joyful energy and genuine enthusiasm to their dances and singing. The accompanying traditional Nagada and Dhol drums and wind instruments, including impressive large Narsingha brass trumpets, further contributed to the authentic feel.

Himachal Pradeshi and Maharashtrian speciality foods once more delighted the visitor's taste-buds. And a supari, churan and namkeen section was a popular complement to the food stalls.

The Winter Weaves exhibition is a further example of Dastkar's marketing services to craftgroups; organising and providing for them the necessary platforms from which they can directly sell their products to the consumer.

The social benefits from the sales achieved at such Dastkar marketing events should not be underestimated. Sales earnings by craftgroups participating in Dastkar events directly benefit the craftspeople who are part of each craftgroup, but also the many other craftspeople who work with that craftgroup. For example a wool-weaving group from Kashmir works directly with 45 weavers, but the group is supplied with wool yarn that has gone through clipping, drafting, spinning and dyeing processes before it gets to the weaving stage. Each process is carried out by a different group of craftspeople and they all benefit indirectly from the production activity and sales achieved by the craftgroup attending the Dastkar Winter Weaves exhibition.

DASTKAR BANGALORE BAZAAR - 2011

A Dastkar Bazaar is always a showcase for quality craft products that maintain their traditional essence. The Bazaar represents the culmination of months of effort and daily hard work by thousands of artisans using their traditionally honed skills to produce handloom and hand-crafted work representing the many distinctive regional styles from across the country. Dastkar's role is to continue to serve its ever-growing family of craft producer groups through a variety of aids tailored to the needs of each specific group, be it new designs to meet urban demands, guidance with production or marketing help. It is this continuous behind the scenes work that Dastkar does with over 200 craftgroups that comes together in the Dastkar Bazaar.

Bangalore Bazaar 2011 was held under the Tiger Theme which had been a resounding success at Dastkar Nature Bazaar Delhi in late 2010. The vast Palace Grounds were done up with visual displays and decorations that carried through the Tiger theme, making the Bazaar atmosphere even more attractive. Artisans were asked to develop their range on the Tiger theme of this Bangalore event. An awareness campaign to save the endangered tiger, India's national animal, was also carried out during the Bazaar to convey this important message to the people visiting the Bazaar.

This Bangalore Bazaar had a total of 115 craftgroups participating, an increased number from 2010. The craftgroups brought with them a rich medley of handcrafts and handloom weaves. Customers found block-prints and embroideries, furniture and home accessories, garments and footwear, gift items, folk art and toys. The range of craft goods offered went from decorative juttis from Rajasthan to tribal jewellery from Orissa; silk sarees from Banaras and Bhagalpur and stoles and shawls from Kutch and Uttrakhand; cane furniture from Assam and Kantha embroideries from West Bengal; Madhubani and Phad paintings were also available. There was even international participation with the beautiful indigo shibori items from Bangladesh. Organic foods and herbal products like soaps and oils were also part of this Bazaar.

Dastkar Bazaar food courts are always a significant component of the event. They bring together delicacies from various states to be enjoyed by the Bazaar visitors. This Bangalore Bazaar had a strong organic foods element based on the use of natural oils, organic and locally available grains of India, and organically farmed vegetables. To complement this, pickles and chutneys from rural women artisans of Andhra Pradesh were available. The food court also included a coffee corner, a snack section, candy-floss and sugarcane juice. A big hit at this Bazaar was the Kullar Chai. The tea was served in clay cups that were so well-liked that the customers took them home with them after drinking!

Once more, Dastkar offered customers more than just craft products to purchase. Following on the previous year's foundation of a Bangalore Bazaar experience that included cultural performances and craft workshops, further such activities were introduced into this year's event with the help of event management company, F5.

There was an evening programme of cultural performances of folk music of Manganayar by Deu Khan and Party, Bharatnatyam by Anuradha Bikrant, African and South Indian music and dance performance by the Mohannam Sound Troupe, Rajasthani Folk Fusion Music By Rajasthan Roots and Chhau Dance by Pandit Gopal Prasad Dubey.

Throughout the day a programme of puppet shows, Kacchi Ghodi, Manipuri Dhol Cholam and Dholu Kunita tribal dance was also organised.

Following on the great response in 2010 to the craft workshops Dastkar organised, this year another programme of workshops was presented including clay modelling from Gujarat, Madhubani painting from Bihar, papier-mâché from Bihar, recycled products from Maharashtra, terracotta pottery from Orissa and paper-making from Elephant dung from a Delhi-based organisation! These workshops again got a good response from both parents and children, with many schools visiting and participating as well.

It was very satisfying to observe that many customers made repeat visits to enjoy the Bangalore Bazaar experience again and again!

DASTKAR BANGALORE BAZAAR - 2010

Celebrating Indian crafts and its craftspeople, Dastkar held its second Bangalore Bazaar at the Palace Grounds in August 2010.

With over 100 groups, Bangalore Bazaar had a balanced mix of textile and non-textile craftgroups representing regions such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Kutch in Gujarat and Orissa.

Rajasthan was represented by their bright bandini pomchas with a shimmer of gold and silver, vegetable dye block-prints, embroidered and patchwork garments and soft furnishings, embroidered leather bags and footwear, hair braiding and beaded thread jewellery. From Andhra Pradesh came light-weight wooden lac bangles, earrings and toys; from Assam there were chic cotton wraps-arounds and jackets, palm leaf paintings came from Orissa, sculpted iron animal figurines were characteristic of Bastar, Madhya Pradesh, tussar weaves in natural dyes came from Bihar and a dramatic range of Lambani tribal embroidered garments, saris, soft furnishings and gift items, and vegetable dyed bags showed off Karnataka's craft skills.

Dastkar also introduced first time participants, home-based bead workers from Hapur, Uttar Pradesh, to this Bangalore Bazaar. Dastkar had been working to empower this craftgroup by improving their traditional skills and by developing contemporary jewellery designs so that they can earn a sustained livelihood from their own inherent skills.

As always Dastkar included several new craftgroups in this Bazaar alongside the many groups from the Dastkar network who are regular participants. Living Blue from Bangladesh showcased their distinctive style combining indigo dyes, Kantha embroidery and Shibori tie-dye techniques, Era Organic from Bangalore brought their range of organic products, Pamshangphi Ngasainao was a new craftgroup making the distinctive black stone pottery of the North-East. From the Kumaon hills of Uttrakhand, Himjoli brought natural products and woollen handloom weaves and knits for the first time to Bangalore. Green Earth from Kolkata designs and markets contemporary products made from sustainable, eco-friendly materials such as grass, reed, bamboo, jute, water hyacinth and cane. Swadeshi Joy from Goa works with khadi and malkha yarn, and brought their fabric and readymades. Manbhari juttis, woven mats from Kolkata's Akhil Kr. Jana, and Tamil Nadu's Grassroots Foundation working with recycled newspaper were other first timers at the Bangalore Bazaar.

Dastkar seeks to bring to its Bazaars the great cultural diversity of regions, including its cuisines, through the ever popular food stalls. For this Bangalore Bazaar, Dastkar organised foods from Delhi, as well as from Rajasthan, Hyderabad, and Maharashtra. Dilli Paratha tempted visitors alongside South Indian cuisine.

Cultural performances too demonstrate the rich traditions of different regions. This time Gotipua performances from Orissa mesmerized the audience and Lambani dancers in their traditional dress provided a vibrant spectacle even if their dance form was more limited. Folk music from Rajasthan and Kutch playing in the background provided a further exotic touch to this South-based Bazaar.

Visitors to Bangalore Bazaar 2010 appreciated the ambience, the colours and the craft product variety. Dastkar is always delighted when customers at its events are curious to know more about the work that Dastkar does, about the artisans, and about the craft products, and the Dastkar team were happy to answer queries and provide information wherever they could.

DASTKAR BASANT BAZAAR - DWARKA 2012

For the second year running, Dastkar organised its spring event, Basant Bazaar, at the Dwarka grounds of CCRT (Centre for Cultural Resource and Training). Following the success of Basant Bazaar 2011, Dastkar once again celebrated this season with colour and by showcasing the regional crafts and range of craft skills from many different states.

Basant Bazaar 2011 had brought a major Dastkar event for the first time to the people of the Dwarka area, and the event had met with an enthusiastic response. Basant Bazaar 2012 built on this good response by building greater awareness about crafts and craftspeople amongst the visitors from Dwarka and surrounding areas.

90 craftgroups participated, coming from 18 states across India. Once again a wide variety of materials, techniques, craft styles and craft product categories were well represented.

North India showcased Ari embroidery and walnut wood carving from Kashmir. Sheep-wool weaving & handmade soaps came from Uttrakhand. Beaded jewellery, wood carving, wood engraving, Khurja pottery, marble inlay work, Banarasi weaving, woven durries, Patti ka Kaam, Sanjhi paper-cuts and Sarkanda grass products were brought in from Uttar Pradesh alongside terracotta pottery and puppetry from Delhi.

East India products included Madhubani painting, tussar silk weaving and papier-mâché from Bihar. Dhokra jewellery & decorative items, ikat weaving, appliqué patchwork, stone-carving, coir and Sabai grass products, terracotta pottery, Pattachitra & palm-leaf painting all came from Orissa. Kantha embroidery, mat weaving, beaded & Dhokra jewellery came from West Bengal.

The North East of India was represented by Assam's Bodo weaving, cane & bamboo products and Eri silk weaving.

West Indian crafts included Kota weaving, durries, camel leather juttis & bags; block-prints, patchwork, Bandhani, threaded & beaded jewellery, Leheriya dyed fabrics, Mehandi, Phad painting, embroidery, weaving, Miniature painting, and Blue Pottery from Rajasthan. Bead work, Bandhani & Ajrakh block-prints, Ari & Suf embroideries, Batik printing, Kutch woollen shawls and stoles came from Gujarat.

From South India there were perfumed candles from Tamil Nadu, handloom textiles and woven durries from Andhra Pradesh and coconut-shell products, lacquered wood toys, metal & silver jewellery and Lambani embroidery from Karnataka.

Finally, Central India was represented with Chanderi weaving, Gond painting and Maheshwari weaves from Madhya Pradesh, as well as tussar silk weaving and Gourd products from Chattisgarh.

Basant Bazaar 2012 was well received by the customers. Seeing the positive response to recent Bazaars organised in new markets, and thereby accessing new audiences, reinforces Dastkar's belief in the strength, skills and sustainability of Indian craft and craftspeople. It is imperative for craftgroups to approach untapped markets and learn to develop and adapt their craft products according to different market trends and different customer demands. From first-hand experience at events like Basant Bazaar-Dwarka, the craftgroups realise that building new markets is an important aspect of growth and is necessary to pave the way for the future.

DASTKAR BASANT BAZAAR - DWARKA 2011

Basant is the Indian spring - a time of fresh beginnings and flowering nature. For the first time Dastkar organised Basant Bazaar in collaboration with CCRT (Centre for Cultural Resource and Training), at their beautiful grounds in Dwarka, as a celebration of Basant and of Kamladevi Chattopadhyaya, the mentor and mother of the post-Independence Indian craft movement.

Around 65 craftgroups from 18 states across India participated, bringing a rich mix of handicrafts and handlooms weaves. The types of craft products available included block-prints, embroideries from different regions, furniture, ready-made apparel, traditional footwear, home accessories and gift items, folk art and toys, as well as natural and organic products.

Dastkar's objective is to bring together rural producer and urban consumer, as well as promote awareness of the rich variety, unique beauty and economic potential of Indian handcraft. Its Bazaars are synonymous of quality crafts at fair prices, where traditional techniques are combined with contemporary designs adapted to today's lifestyles. At Dastkar Bazaars the craft products are sold directly by the craftgroups that made them and the profits benefit the craftspeople themselves.

As Kamladevi said, "Visionaries have tried to remind mankind not to lose this essence of life-what the Indians called rasa, and what in modern parlance is referred to as 'quality'. What we seek today is not a repetition of the old pattern ..... but a positive contribution to strengthening the quality of current life."

This Dwarka-based Basant Bazaar reminded Dastkar again of the wide scope of potential new craft enthusiasts that often remains untapped or under-exposed due to geographical location or lack of access to quality representation of the best in traditional crafts and culture that the country has to offer. It was a source of inspiration and joy to the Dastkar team to see the positive response from the Dwarka visitor to this event; their eagerness, curiosity and delight at experiencing, learning and interacting directly with the craftspeople, who were only too happy to explain techniques or demonstrate the craft skill that produced a craft item.

DASTKAR CHENNAI BAZAAR- 2012

This Bazaar was the culmination of Dastkar's work over the previous year with its 200-strong family of craft producer groups, comprising over 35,000 craftspeople. Services provided by Dastkar included skills training, capacity building, design and product development, linkage to raw material and credit, and raising issues related to crafts and craftspeople through Government and media.

Dastkar Chennai Bazzar was held on the grounds of the Kalakshetra Foundation and its success was in great part due to the unstinting efforts and cooperation Dastkar received from this organisation. Kalakshetra literally means a holy place of arts. Under the guidance of Leela Samson (a student of legendary Rukmini Devi), it is an important centre of training and performance focusing on Bharatanatyam, Carnatic vocal and instrumental music, the visual arts, traditional crafts and textile design, textual heritage, aesthetics, history and philosophy. Committed to preserving and sharing the purity and beauty of the arts in every possible form, the Foundation is a natural partner to Dastkar, a society that endeavours towards the upliftment and empowerment of the craftsperson.

The Chennai Bazaar had over 100 crafts stalls presenting authentic quality craftworks from 19 states across India. Each regional craft is a masterpiece in its own right, that craft's products reflecting the essence of a specific and unique heritage.

North India was represented with Jamdani sarees, woven durries, beaded jewellery, Khurja pottery & marble inlay work from Uttar Pradesh; woollen weaves & knits from Uttrakhand, elephant dung products from a Delhi organisation, beautiful Ari embroideries from Kashmir and leather & zari juttis as well as recycled products from Haryana.

Central India brought artistic wrought-iron products & Gourd decoratives from Chattisgarh, Gond folk paintings & Bagh prints from Madhya Pradesh.

West India showcased its traditional Dabu, Bagru & Akola block-prints, Kota weaves, threaded & beaded jewellery, Phad paintings, Blue Pottery, mojaris & lac bangles from Rajasthan, along with colourful Bandhani & intricate embroideries from Gujarat.

East India brought Bodo weaving from Assam, traditional Ikat weaves, appliqué patchwork, palm leaf paintings, stone & terracotta decorative and Dhokra jewellery from Orissa alongside cane & bamboo products, mat weaving & Kantha embroidery from West Bengal.

From South India came perfumed candles from Tamil Nadu, Ghadwal & Uppada sarees, khadi & cotton handlooms, woven durries, Kalamkari paintings & leather puppets from Andhra Pradesh. Fascinating Lambani embroideries, banana fibre products, coconut shell items, wood decoratives & lacquer toys came from Karnataka.

There were also organic food grains, tea, coffee and honey offered side by side with herbal products, handmade paper, and bags made from recycled waste.

Chennai Bazaar came alive with the rhythms and beats of the cultural performances that added colour and liveliness to the Bazaar. Mohanam Sound Troupe from Pondicherry performed a musical programme of African and South Indian folk music and dance styles.

Rajasthani string puppet shows, popularly known as 'Kaathputli', enacted events from history, myths, folklore or legend, accompanied by music and narrative.

Dastkar also organised a programme of Craft Workshops that is always a big hit in Dastkar's Delhi and Bangalore Bazaars as they not only involve the participation of children and parents together, but also add to their knowledge of crafts and traditions.

Chennai itself belongs to a State where art and culture are highly valued and appreciated. This is also the case towards traditional crafts. The people of Chennai therefore tended to understand and value the work of the craftspeople they interacted with at the Dastkar Chennai Bazaar. It was observed that customers here often patiently listened to explanations as to how a particular product was crafted and were impressed by the processes that were explained to them. It is this quality of interaction that Dastkar seeks to foster in enabling direct contact between craftsperson and customer at Dastkar Bazaars.

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