My Independence Day celebrations – I prefer calling it India Day – could not have been better than they were this year. 15th August, 2015, brought me closer to the real India than I have ever been, made me even more aware of the hugeness that is India, and awed me, all over again, with its richness, in terms of the food and arts and crafts from different regions. Yesterday gave me a chance to record many of the beautiful colours of India on camera. Yesterday I managed to do my little bit for my country. Yesterday I made a decision that is surely going to influence many of my future decisions. All because we visited one of Bangalore’s most-loved arts-and-crafts events, the Dastkar Nature Bazaar.
Ever since we heard about the Dastkar Nature Bazaar 2015 having started, I had wanted to go. Something or the other kept happening, and we did not, till I pulled the OH out of the house saying that we HAD to go, that the fair would end soon, and that I did not want to not go and regret it later. So, off we went, and what a time we had! I am so glad we went, in spite of being bone tired and having a number of other chores on our to-do list. (The fair is on at the Manpho Convention Grounds, near Manyata Tech Park, and today is the last date. I hope you have been already, or are at least making last-minute plans to go!) The OH baby-wore the entire day, which is how I managed to do the fair. Independence of a different kind, eh?
As always, Dastkar was beautiful and colourful and diverse. It brought together artisans from all across the length and breadth of the country – black pottery from Manipur, Madhubani painting from Bihar, Pattachitra from Orissa, Pochampally weaves from Andhra Pradesh, Bandhnis from Gujarat, lac bangles from Rajasthan, pretty embroidery from Kashmir, Phulkari from Punjab, wooden toys from Channapatna, and a lot, lot, lot more. In the back of our minds, I am sure, there has always been the knowledge that our country has a lot to offer in terms of culture, arts and crafts, and food (Yes, India is also becoming famous for all the wrong reasons lately, but I prefer to concentrate on what I think are the right reasons to praise India!). Seeing all of this diversity laid out in front of you, though, is sure to stir something inside you, to make you observe more keenly than ever before, to absorb, and to get prouder than ever before. That is just what happened with me yesterday. I came back home immensely touched.
Some colourful Rajasthani lac bangles as well as a Kalamkari saree and dress material from Andhra Pradesh found their way home with me, too. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to get myself a Sambhalpuri saree from Orissa at Dastkar, and it happens to be one of my prized possessions. This Kalamkari saree too, I am sure, is going to occupy pride of place in my wardrobe. I have always had this dream of owning sarees and salwar kameezes from different parts of India, and yesterday’s visit to Dastkar has made this dream take strong hold of my mind. There is now a stronger-than-ever-before desire to turn this dream of mine into reality.
Lately, I have also been hugely inspired by this wonderful girl’s 100 Saree Pact posts on Facebook. (If you are wondering what the 100 Saree Pact is all about, click here). I can no longer claim to be very busy and not having enough time to wear a saree. I can no longer keep my eyes shut to handlooms and hand-crafted jewellery, no longer not experiment with them. Swaram, you don’t know how hard your posts have influenced me! The Dastkar visit has only catalysed my decision to stop for a few minutes, get rid of the bedraggled appearance that seems to characterise me these days, be more involved in the buying and using of hand-made apparel and accessories, and to do myself a huge favour that way.
At Dastkar yesterday, we also had a heart-to-heart with the lady at the stall by Neev, a Jharkhand-based NGO that makes some of the most exquisite hand-crafted soaps, body lotions, essential oils, deos, moisturisers, hair oils, face washes and shampoos, among other things. Girls and women in difficult circumstances make these products to help their families and fund their higher education – great going that, isn’t it? We bought a few hand-made soaps that smell delicious enough to be eaten, and I can’t wait to start using them! Apparently, most ingredients used in these soaps – cucumber and roses and brahmi and reetha and what not – are grown on the premises of Neev, by the riverside, in a charming village. How do I not get blown away by a description like that? Plus, the NGO claims zero levels of pollution and no use of chemicals in making their products, something I am slowly becoming more and more conscious about by the day. Online reviews of these products are great, my gut feeling about them is good, and I am glad I gave in to my impulse and treated myself to some of Neev’s stuff!
The chat with the lady at the stall made me realise that I should be more aware in choosing the products that I buy, henceforth. I should be more aware of where they come from, who they are made by, and how exactly they are made. There are a lot of loopholes involved in this, I’m aware, but it is better to at least make an effort than doing nothing, I think.
Another ‘informed’ purchase at Dastkar yesterday was some very reasonably-priced terracotta jewellery from Chiguru, a Karnataka-based enterprise that provides a livelihood to impoverished rural women. I saw some of these women working in their stall, and was glad I managed to do a little something for them. Terracotta jewellery is an entirely new world for me, and I am hoping this will be the first of many accessory-based experiments. I am hoping this will go well, and that I will turn up more smartly dressed for the occasions to come!
The food court at Dastkar could have been better, yes, but if I complain about that, I would only be nit-picking. The entire event was, otherwise, beautifully managed. The food court managed to flood me with another wave of realisation – one as to how huge India’s culinary scene is. Even if I strive very, very hard, it is going to be impossible to sample everything that India has to offer in terms of food and drink. But then, I’m going to try – another decision, another dream that took stronger hold yesterday.
Post-event, my heart is full. My camera is full too – with pictures of the vibrancy and colours of India. I hope to put them up on the blog very soon.
Do wish me luck in my endeavours. Till next time!