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A unique Santhe for one and all

Bangalore, Disha Alva, June 20, 2013, DHNS: 2:04 IST
Wide range: Women glance through a saree at Bengaluru Santhe organised at the Swamy Vivekananda Metro station at Baiyappanahalli in Bangalore on Thursday. dh photo
Carving out an aesthetic setting for the State’s craftsmen right under the Swami Vivekananda Road Metro Station, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) hit upon a grand idea: To link up the hugely talented artisans with the paying, cosmopolitan Bangalore crowd.

Accordingly, the craftsmen arrived, and have been marketing their handicrafts, handlooms, folk and fine arts since May 8 last.

But the crowds are too slow in coming to this unique “Bengaluru Santhe,” perhaps, due to poor publicity.

Wide range of products

Craftsmen have come from Shimoga, Udupi, Hubli, Belthangady and rural parts of Karnataka, peddling a range of products from khadi and jute sarees to cotton kurtis, homemade chocolates to ornaments, bags, saplings, herbal products, organic food items, terracotta items and much more.

Showcasing Karnataka’s rich cultural diversity, promoting the artisans and finding them a versatile link to the city’s huge market potential - that is the Santhe’s mission.

“The Santhe is open from 9 am to 8 pm, but much of the business happens only after 4 pm or on weekends. I think that the lack of awareness or publicity might be a reason for the poor public response,” Rajesh, a stall owner at the Santhe, told Deccan Herald.

There are around 90 stalls alloted to craftsmen for 10 to 60 days on rotation basis, for a nominal fee of Rs 100 a day. The artisans have to shell out five per cent of their earnings to BMRCL. Thus, buyers get authentic wares at prices that have not been inflated due to high overheads.

The artisans have no issue with the profit sharing. “I would have to pay a lot more if I want to exhibit my products somewhere else. This concept has good potential. But I am worried about the lack of interest from the people so far,” said Manjunath, a vendor, who blamed it on inadequate publicity.

‘South style’

The Santhe’s design is traditional South Indian style, the ambience providing a feel of a rural setup. The road inside the Santhe complex too is made to resemble a village road.

Space has been provided for staging performing arts like Yakshagana and Carnatic and other musical concerts. Also on the agenda are food festivals to give visitors a taste of the culinary delights of Karnataka. “Here, craftspersons and other stall owners find an opportunity to demonstrate and exhibit their skills and products. It aims at women's empowerment, encouragement of the self-help groups and preservation of the rich heritage of Karnataka,” explained Prabhakar Rao, Chief Administrative Officer of the Santhe.

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