The annual crafts festival is aimed at espousing the cause of rural artisans and craftspersons

Doesn't matter whether you are a shopaholic or a shopaphobic, Madurai's annual crafts fair is the place to drop by.

You can browse and enjoy the unique work of nearly 50 artists, and craftspeople taking part in the celebration of crafts with live demonstrations.

Jointly organized by the Union Ministry of Textiles, North-Eastern Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation Ltd., Shillong and Purbashree,Chennai, the 10-day crafts festival showcases quality craftwork from across the country and the North-East in particular.

The range is exhaustive –from cane furniture to woven textiles, semi-precious and oxidized jewellery to lacquerware toys and clay crafts, pattachitra paintings to hand printed textiles.

The items are good as majority of them are handmade with care and sold directly by the craftspersons.

The stalls are offering wood inlay work and bamboo decorations, mats, curtains and dry flowers from the eight North East States, applique or pipli work, tribal paintings and palm leaf etching from Odisha to sculptures and art metal wares of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, embroidery and tie-n-dye textiles of Gujarat, handbags and footwear in jute and leather and much more.

Colourful and captivating, many products – though using the same raw material – have been contemporized with a new generation of innovative designs.

Like one item, which has fast moved off the shelf is a showpiece made with bamboo trunk. The original trunk with roots retained is chiseled with faces of Buddha, Ganesha and Lakshmi. Costing Rs.400 per piece, it sold like hot cakes.

You will find items costing from Rs.10 to Rs.35,000 here.

Few other items which have generated interest include a special dry grass woven floor, dining and sitting mats and curtains, which cost between rs.350 to Rs.800.

These are washable and foldable. The high-end products are the stylish and elegant Cane furniture, which have evoked more enquiries than sale.

Though the ministry has shifted its focus and taking the exhibition to small towns to give a boost to rural crafts, the sales at the fair, according to the expo In-charge, Mr.Bala Subramaniam, has not been so encouraging.

“We were aiming to do business worth Rs.10 Lakhs, but with two days left we have earned only Rs. Four Lakhs so far,” he rued.

Underlining that the fair is not a commercial venture but purely a promotional programme for the benefit of rural craftspersons, Mr.Bala Subramaniam said, unless people patronize such fairs, the purpose of reaching out will be defeated. “The advantage here is many items are unique as they are handcrafted and also the prices are fixed by the craftspersons.”

About Madurai, he says, this is the first time they have returned within a gap of six months given the sales and response last time.

“Last July we came with 150 craftspersons and sold goods worth Rs.22 lakhs. This time though it's not large scale, the response too has been lukewarm.” But that does not mean, he is not planning to return soon to the city.

He feels the size and space of the hall chosen and lack of proper parking facility has perhaps proved a major deterrent this time.

Last round it was at MADITSSIA with better facilities and the walk-ins were high.

The exhibition is at the Lakshmi Arasu Kalyana Mandapam on K.K.Nagar Main Road till this Sunday (February 12).

You can still pay a visit with a list of gifts for everyone that you have been planning for long but postponing. It is open between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.


MetroplusJune 28, 2012