Serpentinite cups, hand-made flowers…there is plenty to shop at the North East Crafts Bazaar
For a week now, Gangothri Hall on Rajaji Road has been home to the seven sisters of the North East. At its gate is a welcoming profusion of colourful handmade dry flowers — roses, carnations and gladioli on slim stems made from painted sola wood, stocking cloth and green tape. Step past them and you will enter rows of stalls with craftsmen and their creations from Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
From Manipur, there’s Ngouru Debby and her assistant L. Neelakantam selling straw-coloured mats, plush cushions, purses and handbags made from water reeds. She’s also busy with her stall of paintings from Sikkim, depicting life in mountainous terrain recreated in pigments drawn from fruits.
A short way from Ngouru’s exhibition stands Pamringla Vashum, a Naga from Manipur who displays traditional Manipuri shawls, sarongs and stoles alongside regular cotton churidars and salwars. Her prized goods though are the native Manipuri jewellery — statement necklaces and bracelets made from stones, horns, glass, shells and bones. She also has lovely hair pins with silver butterflies at their tip, alongside silver thumb rings, chains and bangles.
Close to the entrance stands Kaider Ali from Assam with his products woven from cane or bamboo. From full furniture sets, to fruit baskets, cups, penholders, bookstands, magazine holders, lamp shades and flower pots, he’s got them all. “I come every year to Kochi,” he says, adding that this year has been bustling business so far.
Also from Assam is Uttam Saika with table mats, curtains and runners made from khus, a grass abundant in the North East. “It’s woven just like how handloom is,” he says, showing a small half-complete sample he’s brought with him for curious customers.
Before you leave, don’t miss Pam Loreechamlei’s stall, striking for its pitch black, wide cooking pots, plates, mugs, kettles and bowls, Pam explains that they are the trademark pottery of the Tangkhul Naga tribe in a village named Longpi in Manipur. “Weather rock and serpentinite are crushed to a powder and mixed with water to form clay, which is then kneaded and shaped by hand before it is baked and rubbed with a local leaf named machee. We don’t use the potter’s wheel at all,” she says. The finished products are microwave and gas safe, perfect for slow cooking as the pots retain heat even off the fire.
The North East Crafts Bazaar features over 40 such stalls each with their history, stories and warm people to guide you through. Among them are also craftsmen from Rajasthan, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Stalls selling regular bed and home linen, daily wear and silver jewellery are also present. The sale is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Gangothri Hall, Rajaji Road upto December 25.