Sushmitha B and Kriti Kulshreshta
India is a land of rich arts and crafts culture which brings about the real essence of the nation. Sadly, however, some of these art forms are on the verge of extinction. But Crafts Council of India, a voluntary organisation, has dedicated itself to preserve, promote and develop traditional crafts and handlooms textiles of India, ‘Vasthrabharana’ is one among their successful projects which aims to bring all the artisans under one roof.
Revathi Prasad, executive committee member of Crafts Council Karnataka says “ It is sad to notice that there is a less participation of youngsters in this event which is prevalent due to progression in software employment.”
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, a freedom fighter, social activist, actor, and politician all rolled into one, whose keen sense on extinction of Indian heritage has helped her to play a phenomenal role in reviving the traditional handicrafts of India by establishing Crafts Council of India in 1964, and Vastrabharana, started in mid 90’s by Pramila Prasad is now the flagship textile and jewellery event of the Council which is held annually.
“Fifty exhibitors participated from different states of India, has brought diverse culture to unity and gave a broader perspective of understanding the taste of India, all the products exhibited in this event are handcrafted and used only natural dyes” says Padmaja Sakhamuri – Joint Secretary, Crafts Council Karnataka.
The prices of the sarees in Vastrabharana were expensive when compared to the regular market; an ordinary silk saree cost Rs 12,000, a saree from Lucknow cost Rs 10,000 and a Patola silk cost Rs 30,000.
Why were the costs so high in Vastrabharana? In the regular market a Lucknow chikan saree can be bought within Rs 1000. Ms Padmaja justifies the high prices saying, “since all the products are hand stitched or printed with natural dyes which have a good demand in the market, the prices are right.”
When asked about whether weavers benefit from the event, she replied “90 per cent of the exhibitors are weavers / printers, the rest are the designers, we do not pay the weavers, they have to make profits from their sales”
Vanditha Reddy who is the Design Head of RVS Textiles and Garments and a graduate of NIFT agrees that “The prices of Vastrabharana are high and are not for all sections of buyers.”
Vastrabharana which is organised around Gandhi Jayanti every year is celebrating its 24the edition this year. It is a flagship fundraiser event for Crafts Council Karnataka, and has become synonymous with the connoisseurs of handcrafted textiles of Bengaluru. However, this year’s event brought to fore the disparity that exists in the craft market where one is not really sure if the weavers and craftspeople are actually earning enough from occasions such as these.