The soul of 'santhes'

The soul of 'santhes'

Bangalore has always been a City that has promoted handicrafts, cottage industries and local artisans. In recent times, the City has seen a spurt of santhes and flea markets that create an interactive platform for these craftsmen to showcase their quirky, off-beat items — the sort that one would probably only find in the villages of India.

From the recent Sampoorn Santhe, organised by the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat to the Chitra Santhe every January; from the Sunday Soul Sante four times a year to the Kitsch Mandi every two months — there is no lack of santhes in Bangalore.


   In fact, it would certainly not be surprising if the Garden City was to be one day
renamed ‘Santhe City’.

Last month, the City saw craftsmen from across the country displaying their
products, ranging from Madhubani paintings to tribal jewellery and miniature
paintings at the Sampoorn Santhe at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat.

“Over the last three years, we have realised that if the presentation, quality and products itself are good, they will sell,” says Shalini Sudarshan, secretary of Sampoorn, a Bangalore-based NGO that promotes handicrafts.

Kitsch Mandi, in particular, has become a breeding ground for small-scale artistes to be recognised. A popular hub for art workshops, musical festivals and flea markets, it is an event that draws in people from all strata of society. “The aim behind the ‘mandi’ is to promote individual artistes and designers who need exposure and encouragement to come out of the shadows with their untapped talent. It is a community activity, where there is always something for everybody,” says Diva Ganeriwal, co-founder of Kitsch Mandi.

“What is interesting is that people have actually started to look forward to something like this, that is not a part of their usual routine. That’s a really good trend to see in a City like ours,” she adds, confirming that the santhe scene in Bangalore is
definitely picking up.  


The next edition of Kitsch Mandi is going to be held at Pebble on August 5 and will see an eclectic range of art installations, garden decor and low-key musicians taking the fore. Bangalore’s beloved artist Shilo Shiv Suleiman will also be conducting a book-making workshop for children and adults.  While hundreds of Bangaloreans flock to these santhes every chance that they get, there are others — who have a better understanding of how they are supposed to work — who opt out.

 “I have been organising similar exhibitions for the last 15 years and was always particular to get specially made, one-of-a-kind things. Personally, I stopped going to other santhes in the City because it’s all the same things everywhere,” says Asha Rao, the woman behind Bangalore’s Sunday Soul Sante.    “If the village craftsmen were given a little design direction to make their products appeal to urban tastes, they could really excel using the same craft,” she adds.

What makes her endeavour stand out against the rest? “The Sunday Soul Sante is like a big giant picnic with thousands of smiling faces in the heart of the City. It’s basically the modern version of the traditional village santhe with something to do for the entire family, including the dog,” she laughs.

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