Where time is like a kaleidoscope

The love for indigenous crafts is exclusive. In a city of numerous malls and shopping complexes, a haat still flourishes and gives malls a good competition. According to Jaya Jaitly, president of Dastkari Haat Samiti at Dilli Haat, INA, haats help in building better relationships with the weavers and craftsmen and “there is nothing more important than human interaction.”

“People like to shop new, exclusive and unusual things which attract their eye. In malls, you will have the same brand all the time. Whereas, in a haat, you may regularly have a Madhubani, but the people making it will keep changing. They tell you about the skill with a sense of pride which helps in better appreciation of the skill and building human relationships. Here each time is like a kaleidoscope,” Jaitly tells Metrolife.

The Dastkari Haat Samiti, an annual cultural festival of Dilli Haat, turns 30 this year. With Myanmar as the country in focus this year, Jaitly feels that the festival has been able to build friendly relations with other countries who have previously been part of the festival which includes Pakistan, Vietnam, South Africa, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

“This is a concrete idea where we can help countries to create indigenous crafts without much expense. The countries who have participated in the festival have been envious of this infrastructure. Seeing the number of craftsmen we have, they often say ‘Oh it would be lovely if we had a market like this in our country’. In fact, we even had two delegations from Egypt and Africa who came here to study Dilli Haat,” she says adding that in these festivals, they focus on how they can give their best practices and ideas to enable the country which has got no development of handicrafts.

Along with Myanmar, the Dastkari invites craftsmen and weavers from all parts of India, bringing a diverse range of hand-woven products and indigenous crafts under one roof. With regional performances that happen throughout the 15-day festival, the haat gets almost one lakh footfalls, reports Jaitly.

“We organise it in a way, which is very different from what Dilli Haat normally looks like. We do it with aesthetics which are rooted in handicrafts and because of that, we get almost one lakh footfall in two weeks,” she says.

So while other countries (including Myanmar) get inspired by a crafts bazaar and look forward to the same in their own country, indigenous hand-woven crafts tend to sustain for long. “Many crafts are being born today. The existing ones can be vitalised every day with new inputs which you cannot get with any other mechanical product,” she says.

She further explains, “For these craftsmen, it’s a traditional heritage skill which is now being recognised and supported. Till now they were just labouring and wanted it to sustain if it brings them enough money. That’s why we arrange craft demonstrations here. When people see a shawl being embroidered, they will be willing to pay the money that is being asked.”

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