Dastkari Haat, on till January 22, showcases arts and crafts traditions.

The annual Dastkari Haat is on at Kalakshetra, and if you haven't visited it yet, here's what you're missing.

“It's the second time we have this haat-balladeer combo, stalls and performances happening together,” said Jaya Jaitly, the power behind the phenomenon.

“You would definitely not want to miss the show at 6 p.m. on January 20.” As the audience watches, Ganesh Jogi and wife Tejubai Jogan will do exquisite pen-and-ink sketches of life around and sing ballads of Kabir, even as their hands work on the canvas. “They're both old, but you need to see the romance they infuse in their singing,” said Jaya.

Tales from yore

The Radha chitrakaar, meanwhile, will unfold a scroll of patachitra, and tell stories. It could be anything - an episode from the Ramayana, Radha-Krishna Leela, Osama bin Laden, earthquake or tsunami.

The singing is in Gujarati, but that's immaterial. The Phad painter, Joshi, who comes from a culture of singing / dancing, will narrate the exploits of a king through a wooden contraption that opens into a series of doors, each tiny room revealing a bit of the hero's saga. Singing with them will be Aruna Sairam - expect her to break out in equivalent numbers.

“In bringing these craftsmen and balladeers to showcase their art and craft, we are simply reflecting the ideals of Kamaladevi Chattopadyay and Rukmini Devi Arundale,” Jaya said. “The effort is to go beyond professional earnings and take spirituality and culture to the next generation. It's ensuring that the artistes' voices are not stifled by commercialism.”

Tradition is not the only aspect touched here. Ceramics made by a hundred women from Dharavi are part of the 105 stalls selling jewellery, statues, mats, baskets - things you would love to have around and use.

“Look out for the natural fibres in this year's craft bazaar,” Jaya suggested. “That's how our craftsmen brought environment and livelihoods together and made it sustainable.”

“A majority of artefacts is rare and unique,” said KS Vishwambhara, an ex-Santiniketan printmaker, taking part in the ongoing Art Week. “I've just been to one at Prince of Wales, Mumbai. The ambience here beats it all.”

The Haat is on till January 22 at Kalakshetra, from 11a.m. to 9 p.m.


Painting the town with songsFebruary 14, 2010