I have been visiting Dastkar every time the exhibition comes to Bangalore, since 2011 onwards, I think. I have seen the fair grow, from a simple collection of stalls selling wares from across India, to a huge event that has become nationally and internationally popular. This is, I think, both good and bad. The good part is the large exposure that craftsmen from different parts of India are getting through the fair, the bigger platform to sell their wares, and the chance at a better life for themselves and their family. The bad part is the tinge of commercialisation that has started to colour the event of late and high prices. This was what was running through my mind as we visited Dastkar 2016 at the MANPHO Convention Centre.
Dastkar has become quite the high-brow event now, and it is tough, at least for me, to really buy many of the wares that are on sale here. I would actually have loved to get the Kota sarees and the earthen pots that were on display at the fair, but was stunned when I was told they cost INR 1800 and 350 respectively! Yes, I do understand the need to involve middlemen in an event this large in size, and I do understand the huge amount of work these craftsmen put into their creations, which I do not intend to demean that in any way, but still. Prices cannot be 5-6 times what they cost in their place of origin. I think I would rather stick to making trips to different parts of India, as and when I can, and buying their specialties right from the source.
This commercialisation has already coloured my experience of various other Bangalore events, the cake show and Chitra Santhe included, and I am sad to say that Dastkar too has joined that list. 😦
That said, not everything at the fair was priced way too high. If you take the time to look closely, you can indeed find great deals here too. I did buy some gorgeous plates and bowls for my food photography, an earthen planter for my balcony garden, and some earthen whistles (yes!) that sing like a bird when water is filled into them.
As always, attending Dastkar turned out to be an enlightening experience. It broadened my horizons, and taught me about the rich diversity of arts and crafts that India boasts of. As always, the event was colourful and beautiful, a feast to the senses and a photographer’s delight. I got lost in taking pictures of all the gorgeous wares displayed at the fair which, I will, hopefully, share soon in a separate post. Considering that I have been visiting Dastkar every year since 2011, this year’s visit pointed out how much has changed within me and in my life, just as it does every year.
Like it does every year, Dastkar 2016 too made me think – of the little changes I can incorporate to lead a greener, healthier lifestyle, to make a difference to the world around me, the little ways in which I can change my home. Last year, the fair inspired me enough to switch to hand-made soaps and try out terracotta jewellery for the first ever time. This year, I picked up a couple of Eco Femme cloth sanitary pads for myself – I will, hopefully, soon be crossing over to sustainable periods, if all goes well. 🙂
Like last year, this year too, I felt the food court at the fair could have been much better organised. It did have some delicious fare on offer, but it could have been a better representative of the foods from different parts of India, I thought.
All in all, I had mixed feelings about Dastkar this year. It left my heart full but sort of heavy, if you get what I mean.
For those of you who are interested, the Dastkar Nature Bazaar 2016 is on at the MANPHO Convention Centre, near Manyata Tech Park, Hebbal, Bangalore, till August 15, 2016. The entry fee is INR 40 per head.