Ever thought of making your own umbrella or jewellery? Or still, about stitching together a few paper bags and helping the anti-plastic campaign? If so, heading to the University Students' Centre would be a good idea.

The Centre for Gandhian Studies of the Kerala University, the Thiruvananthapuram District Panchayat, and the Swadeshi Grama Vikasana Kendra have come together to organise the Swadeshi Gramotsav, which will have on display handmade traditional products apart from offering sessions imparting training, mainly in umbrella manufacturing, at the Centre till June 23.

The umbrella-manufacturing programme will be the focus of the ongoing event, while those interested in learning about jewellery trade —imitation jewellery to be precise — could contact the organisers to know about a training programme in ornament designing and manufacturing, which is to begin shortly.

According to Centre for Gandhian Studies coordinator J.M. Rahim, the Swadeshi Grama Vikasana Kendra has already given training to over 500 women from the district in various handicrafts and potential cottage industry trades, including manufacturing of paper bags, soaps, lotions and detergents, to mention a few.

At present, there are about 50 women at the Gramotsav, aspiring to master the nuances of shaping an umbrella. With a Rs.170-kit enough to come up with one umbrella that could be sold for about Rs.200, the women are being taught how to design two-folds, three-folds, switch-open models, children's umbrellas and also the good old walking-stick ones. Moreover, they will be trained to attend to repairs too, just in case someone comes back with a damaged piece.

The aim, Mr. Rahim told The Hindu, was to help self-help groups and individuals to set up their own businesses and spread the ‘Swadeshi' message advocated by Mahatma Gandhi.

The Gramotsav, inaugurated by Civil Supplies Director and Rural Development Commissioner M. Nandakumar on Friday, will be on till June 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on all days. For details of the training programmes, contact 94470-40831.