Celebrating the craft of Tharu women

Intricate work

The Rana Tharu is a tribal community settled in the Terai and Bhabar region of Uttarakhand, now the district of Udham Singh Nagar. And this community is recognised because of its unique crafts made of local grass.

Showcasing the same, a Delhi-based NGO, Happy Hands Foundation along with the women of the Tharu tribal community, undertook an entrepreneurial journey to establish their craft further which would enable them to reach to a wider audience.

Showcasing their talent at an exhibition called, ‘Criss-X-Cross’ at Lokayakta Art Gallery in Hauz Khas Village, recently, their initiative presented an array of grass-woven products and also offered a sneak peek into the lives of the Tharus. These women are trained to develop quality products in different categories like, jewellery, home decor, etc, through design and skill workshops.

In the past few months, a cluster of 50 women engaged in a series of active discussions by participation in workshops to design, visualise and create their own sustainable brand of products, named under ‘Rana Grass Product’.

According to Medhavi Gandhi, of the Happy Hands Foundation, “This initiative brings together a tribal community of women and young people from an urban space in seeking a sustainable livelihood for the women. Through enterprise training they learn how to manage their finance, marketing, etc, and through the design training they build a sound understanding of co-lours, techniques and understanding consumer choices.”

Gandhi also, said, that “the Tharus lead a very simple life revolving around their agricultural work only. These women also hold a higher position not only in terms of work but also in terms of decision-making at their homes.”

Tharu women use a variety of locally-available natural grasses such as Seenk, Moonj, Kansi, Pateri, Gondi, Motha to develop baskets with intricate motifs, vibrant colours and patterns. Primarily a cultural practice ,with the highly decorated baskets being given to their daughters for their marriages, today the Tharu community is diversifying into making baskets and other handicraft products for sale, which also gives them an opportunity to earn their livelihood.

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