The Khadi Bazaar at Valluvar Kottam has crafts carved out of unique materials.

Every product at the khadi bazaar organised by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India, is handmade by rural artisans, embodying the concept of creativity which is sustainable, organic and natural.

From finest khadi muslin woven in West Bengal and Nambiyur to silk saris with real zari, from sisal and palm leaf basketry and artefacts to exquisitely fashioned coconut shell jewellery, from leather products and jute footwear to honey, shampoos, mud art and stone inlay products , the participating KVIC units and NGOs from across India bring rural creativity in myriad ways.

Agarbattis from Ambasamudram, papads and palm gur sweets, classic Nachiarkovil kutthuvilakus, Chennapatna toys and bangles all come together in a celebration of ingenuity.

Khus and craft

Vijay from Batkal, in Karnataka, crafts ‘vettivaer' screens, decorative artefacts, caps, slippers and curtains. He sprinkles a little water on a vettivaer Kathakali mask and the whole stall is enveloped in the earthy fragrance of ‘khus'. “The grass grows abundantly in our area” says Vijay, “we cut and wash the grass for two or three days. After drying the grass we stitch it up together and then cut the panel to the required size and shape. We embellish it with piping, cloth, zari, sequins etc.”

For Rajesh the screw pine growing in the hilly areas of Kerala provides the raw material for creating a range of mats and baskets.

“When the screw pine grows to a height of three feet we cut, dye it and begin weaving straightway. The stitching is done by weaving the strands together.” Very attractive, the screw pine basketry vies for attention with his sisal fibre products, such as basketry and bags.

Stories of small beginnings growing into successful and meaningful craft enterprises abound at Khadi Bazaar. Mani from Erode makes recycled paper out of waste banian material.

“We put the waste cloth into a digester whereby the cloth comes out as pulp. We mix the pulp with water, drain excess moisture through a vat, and then put the mass through a calendar. The value addition is done later”.

The paper comes in beautiful pastel shades with a sprinkling of subtle graphics. The paper can be used as personal stationery and to handcraft pretty lampshades, bags, photo frames, boxes etc., all of which are on view at Mani's stall.

Then there is E. Mali Khan who fashions small exquisite jewellery out of coconut shell.

“We set aside a coconut for 15 days and then sandpaper it to achieve a smooth polish. In this 15-day period the oil from the coconut seeps into the shell and the edible portion inside turns to dust. We use a hacksaw to cut shapes from the shell and small iron ‘ulis' to design intricate jewellery pieces. Apart from earrings, bangles and clips we also make tea cups, chappals etc.”

All these and more can be explored at KVIC'S Khadi Bazaar which is on at Valluvar Kottam, Chennai, till March 15.