Needed more haats in the city

We are a culturally rich and vibrant nation, a colourful mosaic of different cultures, ethnicities, languages, customs, traditions, beliefs and values. Our heritage and traditions have stood the test of time and have had a strong bearing on our development, our standing in the comity of nations, and in keeping us connected to our roots.

No matter what the impact of technology and modern fads, our cultural heritage will always ignite a sense of pride in us, for our country and its heritage.

One experiences similar pride when one visits small haats in a city bursting with malls and shopping complexes. Somewhere, deep down they make a deep connect with us with their quaint, earthy and wholesome character, as opposed to their more plush and glitzy counterparts with their expensive fare.

A visit to a haat, which resembles a lot like rural India (long lost and forgotten by urban folks), makes one feel completely at one with the ambience around–a perfect way to spend a weekend.

But it’s not just about haats. Even as we in India, and indeed around the world, gear up to celebrate World Ethnic Day on June 19, the moot question remains -- ‘how much ethnicity is really alive today?’

One immediately goes back to places like Hauz Khas Village (HKV) in the city, with an exclusive vintage feel of rural India. A hub of fashion designer stores and cafes, the place attracts a lot of youth and tourists, foreignere and from within the country, who list it as their all-time favourite hangout spot.

Similarly, there are three Dilli Haats running in the city, though the Pitampura and Janakpuri haats are comparatively less popular than the one in INA.

While the Pitampura Dilli Haat faces problems like lack of sufficient products, unreasonably high-priced items, unappealing variety and quality of food in the few stalls that are operational, the one in Janakpuri is still relatively new and will take at least four years to get established, according to the authorities.

To learn more about the popular and successful one, Metrolife headed to INA Market, and was suitably rewarded. Known as the first-ever food, craft, culture and eco-friendly project, Dilli Haat provides the ambience of a traditional village market, but one suited for more contemporary needs. Here one sees a synthesis of crafts, food and cultural activity.

It also provides the much needed platform for artisans, craftsmen and the hard working weavers, many of who are feted master craftsmen, from across the country.

While speaking to Dilli Haat authorities at INA (who requested anonymity), Metrolife discovered some little-known facts about this sprawling cultural spot of the city.

“When it comes to exclusivity and the stand-alone qualities of the haat, we can confidently say that a few items that are found here, cannot be found anywhere else in Delhi,” say the officials.

Undoubtedly, the Punjabi jooti, the zari dupattas, the wooden toys and the ethnic chadars are difficult to find in the glittering malls and shopping complexes.

“It’s not just about the shopping items...,” they continue, “...the haat provides an effective and impressive platform to all our artisans and craftsmen, who work day and night to produce these wearable and decorative items. When people come and visit the craftsmen and the weavers and pay according to their hard work, that’s when our mission is fully accomplished!”

Meanwhile, various cultural festivals and events regularly take place at Dilli Haat, which on the other hand are celebrated in a more ostentatious manner by some of the more popular malls ,like Select Citywalk, in the city. Apart from the regular national festivals like Diwali, Holi, Eid and Baisakhi, the haat is also home to various other fascinating events like the recently concluded Sharbat Mela, the Mango Festival, crafts mela while doubling up as a popular locale for film shooting, music and other  cultural events.

While employment generation is one of the big affirmations of having a haat in the city, it also helps promote tourism to a large extent.

But there is flip side to this pretty picture. Where on one hand the 201 stalls from 25 states of the country provide employment and visibility

opportunities to a lot of people, a lot of artisans are unhappy at not getting enough opportunities to showcase their creations at the stalls.

Lajwanti, a national awardee, sadly says, “Hamare koi ache din nahi aaye hain...” At 65, the lady has been selling phulkari in Dilli Haat ever since its inauguration. She hails from Patiala and works with 1,000 other women to create beautiful pieces.  “The government should help is in getting more space, for better earnings and sustenance”
she says.

“We keep making phulkari fabric all through the year, yet, we get only a few days to display them in a shop at Dilli Haat. Being a national award winner, I request the government to cater to our requirements and address our problems,” she tells Metrolife.

Even as one revels in the colours of India, in its rawest form, the question remains unanswered: Why don’t we have more haats or similar hubs, reserved exclusively to promote our ethnic Indian items?

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019

Get real-time news updates, views and analysis on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on 

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #DHPoliticalTheatre for live updates on the Indian general elections 2019.

Comments (+)