Without relying solely on government-organised exhibitions to sell their wares, members of a self-help group (SHG) in Puducherry have set up their own store. Kolam, an artisans’ SHG that functions under the Puducherry Pudumai Handicrafts Artisans Co-op Society, has opened a retail outlet on Ambalathadayer Madam Street.

The outlet is the first ever to be set up by any of the 36 SHGs under Pudumai. The store stocks dresses and accessories for idols, such as veshti, pavadai and small garlands made of satin ribbon, all made by the members of Kolam. The members also make artificial flower displays, door hangings and wall hangings.

Apart from what the members themselves make, the outlet also sells crafts made by other SHGs functioning under Pudumai, such as terracotta figurines, lampshades, golu dolls and incense sticks that are usually displayed only at the Pudumai showroom or at exhibitions.

Kolam is a recently formed SHG. “Initially we were only a few women, who worked together to make crafts. When we decided to sell our crafts at a retail outlet, we registered ourselves as a self help group under Pudumai, and opened the store in June 2009,” explains Shanthi, member of Kolam.

The SHG is involved in making items for festivals all around the year, such as Varalakshmi Viratham and Krishna Jayanthi. Shanthi, who mans the store everyday, has her own workstation attached to the store. “The other 12 members work at a workstation in Muthialpet,” Shanthi says.

Crafts made by Kolam are currently also on display at the golu dolls exhibition at the Sri Vedapureeswar temple.

Keywords: PuducherrySHGs