Through its varied initiatives, Dastkar has been trying to improve the economic status of traditional craftspeople across the country. Now it has decided to expand its benevolence by focusing on marginalised craftspersons of South Asia at its 10-day-long bazaar at Nature Bazaar in Andheria More in Delhi beginning August 23.

“Dastkar South Asian Bazaar” will showcase the cultural diversity of crafts manufactured in South Asian countries - Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan. According to Dastkar founder Laila Tyabji, the event will focus on South Asian countries for the first time.

Ms. Tyabji said craft is unique to Asian countries as they centuries-old common cultural heritage of extraordinary weaving, embroidery, block printing, leather and metal work, wood carving, basketry, and terracotta traditions.

“However, even in our country, there is diversity in crafts produced in different States and districts. Every State specialises in its unique craft which needs to be patronised.”

She is keeping her fingers crossed hoping that the event proceeds and concludes without hiccups. Even though the border skirmish has cast a shadow over the peace initiative, the peacenik is confident that the bazaar will be a success.

“We need to go ahead and promote such people-to-people contact. This is an ideal venue as Pakistani and Afghani craftspersons will interact with Indian consumers and most importantly rub shoulders with their Indian counterparts, who like them earn their livelihood through traditional skills and hard work.”

Ms. Tyabji said 40 artisans will participate from the host country and an equal number from the South Asian nations.

“The Indian craftspersons will include national awardees, but this is not the criteria for selection. We also must remember that no product is made by only one artisan but manufactured by the whole community as the product passes through different stages before it enters the market.”

Organised by the Dastkar South Asian Bazaar in association with Delhi Tourism, the event will be a celebration of the skills and traditions of the craftspersons. The products on display will include Pakistani ajrakh block prints and leatherwork, phulkari from Punjab and Barmer, indigo dying from Bangladesh and intricate weaving of Bhutan.

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