Traditional handicrafts losing their allure?

World Ethnic Day which falls on June 19, is just around the corner and one wonders, ‘how much ethnicity is really alive in the present times?’ In the National Capital, the first few names that come to a person’s mind while talking about ethnicity are definitely the cultural hubs like Dilli Haat, Janpath Market and the Mandi House area with the various arts, music, dance Akademis and theTriveni Kala Sangam.

Amongst all of them, one can look forward to the Janpath Market for a lot of reasons, thanks to its vast street-fashion market, the sprawling Connaught Place in its neighbourhood and the Connaught circle teaming with popular food joints, fast-food cafes and hangout spots. And to top the Janpath-CP experience is the fabulous connectivity
that the Delhi Metro has provided which has helped increase footfalls and revive
business and fun activities in the CP area.

One of the gates of the Janpath Metro station takes one exactly to the entrance of the market. With the weather bringing a sort of a relief to the city the past weekend, one enjoys the calm walk along the rows of shops that lead to the main Janpath market.
Nestling amongst the numerous shops in the lane is Malik Handicrafts, shop number 73 at Janpath market. With some exclusive vintage home decor items that immediately take us back to our rich heritage, one feels sorely tempted to have more than a glimpse of this hidden cultural spot in the market.

Run by the third generation of the Malik family, the shop is a popular brand name for handicraft vendors in the entire market. “We have been running business in the handicrafts segment for almost half a century now,” says Jatin Malik, the third generation owner in the shop.

From exclusively vintage decorativeitems to the classy Taj Mahal show piece that can be found in most Indian households, the shop is a hub of handicrafts of the finest quality.
Speaking of the diverse places from where they source their stocks, Malik says, “All the items in the shop are from varied places across the country. Kashmir, Amritsar, Jaipur, Agra, Banaras and Udaipur are some of the cities that we visit more often.”

While there are a number of other shops in the market that retail in handicrafts, Malik claims that some products aren’t available anywhere else in Delhi.

“I am positive about the fact that the chess board that we sell here is exclusive to us alone. Ranging between Rs 2,200 to Rs 13,500, people love buying these classy pieces of chess,” Ankit Malik, Jatin’s elder brother, tells Metrolife.

A decade ago, they had no competition. Today, with the growing market of ‘first copy’ products flooding the markets, the charm of the originals and antiques has sort of diminished with time.

While shops like Malik Handicrafts are more popular amongst the tourists and foreigners in the city, as compared to the local residents, there seems to be an urgent need to check the depleting traditions and culture values which are lost somewhere in the past.
This World Ethnic Day, let’s move ahead and adopt Mahatma Gandhi’s age old policy of ‘Be Indian, Buy Indian, and feel proud of our rich cultural heritage.

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