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A bazaar for India's folk arts

Dastkari Haat — a vibrant crafts festival that is world-renowned for its hand-picked artisans is coming to Pune for the first time. Jaya Jaitly founder of Dastkari Haat Samiti, speaks to the guide on why this event should not be missed

Craft connoisseurs of Pune will get an opportunity to witness an exciting and vibrant collection of arts, crafts and textiles from all over the India in the form of the Dastkari Haat, starting this Friday. One can not only meet craftsmen and artisans from all over India but also buy their wares, directly from the artist. In tandem with the folk theme, daily performances of folk culture and puppet shows will also take place.

Dastkari Haat Samiti
 Small figurines that are made as per local craft techniques

On the highlights of Dastkari Haat, which will be happening for the first time in the city, Jaya Jaitly, founder of the Dastkari Haat Samiti, shares, “Crafts in India are so varied that one can gain new insights every time one visits a genuine crafts bazaar where the makers themselves are present. I hope visitors will see the large amount of innovation and quality improvements that have taken place because they have better access to customers in different cities. Newer crafts have emerged due to income-generation programmes. The artisans have used local materials and skills to create handmade utility products that do not necessarily come under traditional crafts as such.”

Dastkari1
Various kinds of serveware that belongs to various pottery styles in the country

Jaitly who has been behind the success of the event several times in the past shares that putting such an event together is always a challenge. Her organisation has been organising small and large bazaars exhibitions in different parts of the world for over 20 years. She shares that organising events of varied scales has made her prepared to expect the unexpected — like lots of rain, leaking roofs, late arrival of the artisan’s goods, last-minute uninvited arrivals or last-minute cancellations on the artisan’s front.

Jaya Jaitly
Jaya Jaitly is the founder of the Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Samiti will also have its own stall selling special artistic stationery, maps, and craft books. Speaking on the importance of the Dastkari Haat as an initiative, Jaitly informs, “All crafts need support to stay in demand. They need design input to diversify products and redirect skills in new ways. We tend to notice crafts that have enterprising crafts people behind them. Simple rural artisans tucked away in far off villages or in forest areas hardly know much about the world around them and lack confidence to reach out. Among the poorest are many types of basket makers, textile weavers, (especially women), wood workers and potters. Only the fancy stuff gets seen but that is the tip of the iceberg.”

An artisan at work
An artisan at work

The exhibition will also have food stalls with lip-smacking delicacies from across the country like Amritsari Keema and Aloo Naan from Punjab. Jaitly concludes by talking about one of her most cherishable experiences of Dastkari Haat, “Whenever we hold a bazaar people come and thank us for bringing crafts to them and creating a happy atmosphere. About Dilli Haat which I created as a permanent marketplace for impermanent people, someone once wrote to a newspaper saying, ‘Why can’t all of India be like Dilli Haat?’ ”

About Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Dastkari Haat Samiti is a national association of crafts people founded in 1986. It has over 1500 members from all states of India in all craft skills.

Dastkari

It has conducted over 100 crafts bazaars all over the country and has been invited to prestigious crafts programs in London, Oxford, Frankfurt, and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for the second Africa-India Summit. It has conducted cultural and skill exchange projects between artisans of India and Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

On: November 7 to 16, 11 am to 8 pm
At: The Monalisa Kalagram, Pingale Farms, Koregaon Park.

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