The ongoing “Aadishilp” fair at Dilli Haat opposite INA Market here is familiarising visitors with the rich culture, art and craft of the North-Eastern States.

Organised by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India, an autonomous body functioning under the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry, the 16-day fair has been conceptualised to give tribal artisans an opportunity to display their latest works and get a foothold in the city.

According to TRIFED Managing Director Jiji Thomson, Aadishilp is providing exhibitors a platform to interact with visitors and know their taste and preferences. “Even last year, a fair on the culture and craft of the Seven Sisters was exhibited at Dilli Haat. But this year, the fair is being organised on a bigger scale. Seventy five artisans from Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland are exhibiting their eco-friendly products like woollen clothes, textiles, handcrafted jewellery, bamboo products, cane, organic food items like turmeric.”

Interestingly, more than half of the exhibiters are women entrepreneurs.

“Women of the North-East are economically independent and know how to spend money in a constructive way. And we are providing all help to them to not only stand on their own feet but also to capture new markets. The main objective is to make them a part of the national mainstream. For this exhibition, we have provided them all the logistical support including accommodation and travel. Furthermore, all their unsold items would be purchased by us. We do not want them to return home disappointed,” adds Mr. Thomson.

Admitting that TRIFED does not have much presence in the North-East, Mr. Thomson says: “I took over recently. We have just one office at Guwahati. To reach out to artisans across the region, we have plans to open a procurement centre at Kohima and a training centre at Meghalaya. And we want to add more products from the region at TRIFED stores.”

For Dimapur-based designer Kos Zhasa, who has been studying and researching for the past four years to develop textiles of the North-East, the fair has given exhibitors like her a feeling of being accepted by art connoisseurs of the Capital. “Visitors at Dilli Haat are genuinely interested in buying products manufactured by our tribal population,” adds Mr. Thompson.

For every product which is sold, it indirectly helps tribal folks who painstakingly create the product. “Tribal weaving is being done on a large scale. The idea is to engage as many weavers as possible. Demand and supply should go hand in hand.”

Using different colour combinations, Zhasa employs the same design in different garment material. “It is an exciting venture -- innovative and profitable,” she says.

While products from the North-East have been given prominence, the exhibition is also displaying the tribal heritage of States from the North, Central, West and South India.