To enable weavers and artisans to stand on their feet and find a foothold in the Capital, the Delhi Craft Council is hosting a three-day exhibition of saris at Aga Khan Hall on Bhagwan Dass Road in Delhi beginning this Thursday.
For the non-government organisation it is a challenge to scout for weavers living in obscurity but having the requisite talent to become part of the national mainstream.
Security to artisans
According to Council president Purnima Rai, this year was no different as finding hidden talent was a time-consuming exercise. “We have to work round the year to search for those deserving to get recognition. This has been our underlying philosophy ever since freedom fighter Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay founded our NGO in 1967. Like stalwart of the freedom movement like Mahatma Gandhi, she too dreamt of providing dignity and security to artisans in the new India.”
Explaining the purpose behind the exhibition which is being hosted over the past decade, Ms. Rai says popularising exquisite saris from different States among urbanites was important because the cosmopolitan women or modern housewives prefer Western outfits over the national dress.
“Once in a while it is okay but if our women folk in big cities continue wearing these modern dresses then it would become a trend. I am afraid our traditional sari would fade into obscurity. A sari provides not only value for money but also livelihood opportunities for a number of weavers. Moreover, the sari is part of our cultural heritage. Perhaps no other culture has produced a garment which symbolises its aspirations, aesthetics and design sensibilities in such a beautiful manner like sari,” she says.
Titled “Saris 2012”, the exhibition will display a wide assortment of hand crafted and hand woven saris. The single unstitched garment presenting an almost infinite variation in texture, colour and design attracts not only domestic consumers but also foreigners every year.
“Europeans and Americans purchase saris as a sort of souvenir but do not wear them. Still they value and appreciate our textiles,” says Ms. Rai.
Since 2005, the Delhi Crafts Council has been presenting an annual award titled “Sutrakar Samman” which recognises excellence in traditional weaving skills. This year, the award will be conferred on Hilal Ansari for creating Maheshwari saris. The award will be presented by founder member and Dastkar chairperson Laila Tyabji.
Variety of saris
“This year we are exhibiting the work of two dozen participants who have worked day in and day out to showcase a variety of saris in traditional Indian weaves. The range of textiles includes tussar prints, weaves from Assam, Banaras and Bengal, Chanderiand Ikatsaris, South Indian weaves along with Parsi embroideries.”
This year the focus has been on bringing together artisans and weavers with fresh sense of design who have been working to revive the traditional hand-woven sari which exudes elegance and is in sync with contemporary wears.