What the Banjara tribe has to offer...

Bharatpur, the gateway city of Rajasthan, is well-known for its bird sanctuary, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. But only few know about the local craft practised in the nearby hamlets of the bird sanctuary, which helps in sustaining the tribal community.

At Chak Ramnagar, a hamlet seven kilometres away from the national park, women from the Banjara tribe are seen setting up self-help groups called the Eco Development Committee. In contemporary times, these women are engaged in making exquisite art works, and their products are sold at the retail outlet at the bird sanctuary.

Banjara tribals are travelling traders and craftsmen who operate through the Banjara Society of Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Rajputana Society of Natural History (RSNH).

At the entrance of the bird sanctuary is a bookshop that sells the products of Eco Development Committee. The items that are eye-catchy are colourful hats, baskets and other souvenirs. The women craft round hats from local hard grasses and waste materials.

Once the item is made, brush is wielded to give colour to it. The items are coloured in a way to form a geometric pattern. They serve as visual delights. There are baskets, table mats and coasters made from reed or willow that have flexible branches and are locally known as sarkanda.

One can come across grass boxes that make ideal gifts. Also on the racks are small, colourful bowls with covers. The hats are priced at Rs 250, and the baskets begin at Rs 200. The grass box is a huge one tagged at Rs 500.

Most of the items are easy on the pocket and fly off fast from the shelves.
Since the bird sanctuary has an encouraging number of global tourists, the craft works of Banjara tribe find a lot of buyers.

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