DASTKAR – A SOCIETY FOR CRAFTS AND CRAFTS PEOPLE

This is the first “Guest Blog” by our eldest daughter Bianca Celine Diane


Hello everyone!! I guess most of you have already had a briefing about me but for all those who have missed out on it, I am Bianca Celine a.k.a. B.C. 3rd year fashion design student at National Institute of Fashion Technology = NIFT (one of the most reputed design colleges in India). Designing is my passion, other than styling and writing.

‘THE CAMEL’ was the theme for this year’s Dastkar -Nature Bazaar. Why the Camel you might ask? I did too; apparently the camel is interpreted as something which can survive under any circumstances. It lives in the most desolate corners of the planet with its unique techniques of survival and self sufficiency. It feeds on just about anything including thorns and stores water for its survival.

For all those of you who haven’t heard about Dastkar, it’s a society that aims at improving the economic status of Indian craftspeople. The main aim of Dastkar is to help craftspeople; especially women use their traditional craft skills as a means of employment and income generation. For the record ‘Dastakar’ means artisan or craftsman in ‘Hindi’. The exhibition consists of crafts from all around India and let me tell you, that is quite a lot!!

The first thing I would tell about Dastkar is that it was huge!! We were sure we couldn’t finish looking around the whole exhibition but surprisingly enough we did, in about 5 long enjoyable hours.

So let me take you around some of the interesting stalls I came across. The first one that caught my attention was this one called ‘Jugaad’. I am not sure how many of you actually have heard about them but from what I know ‘Jugaad’  is one of the popular brands among the ones who are known to work with recycled materials. A Delhi based brand, they had some really pretty wallets and bags I have to tell you. The wallet flaps were covered with ‘lays’ (yes, I am talking about the potato chips here), ‘kurkure’ covers and even ones made with ‘Tropicana’ (as in ‘juice’) packages. Hand bags made with patch worked fabrics and pretty tassels were all part of their stall. Like almost everything Indian, the stall was very colourful and very arty.  Sadly I don’t have any images of the lovely wallets I was talking about.

My personal favourite would be the ‘Haathi Chaap’. Look at the picture below with the funny elephant; can you guess what it’s made of?

It’s made of (hold your breath) elephant poo! I know you are surprised; I had the same reaction too, believe me! ‘Haathi Chaap’ means elephant poo in Hindi. My favourite stall, not only because of their innovativeness but also because of the wonderful products they make. From books to paper bags to wall hangings and even photo frames they had a wonderful variety of products. 


Looks wonderful doesn’t it? I agree too, and would have happily walked away with it, had I had the money. So instead I stood and admired it for quite some time, wondering when I would actually be able to buy one like that (to wear, of course!). After admiring the rest of the wonderful traditional silver-, brass- and copper- jewellery laid out for display mainly from the states of Karnataka and Orissa, I decided I have to move on or I wouldn’t see the rest of the expo. But here are some visual treats for you to enjoy!  


The Pipli craft of Orissa was another one that looked really interesting. What actually caught our attention were the huge umbrellas kept for display near the stall with the pipli technique done all over.

Now how can I miss the famous Kerala murals being from my home state of Kerala? Combining the age old techniques of mural (wall) paintings practiced all around Kerala these people had made products which were very viable these days. From paper weights to pen stands and wall hangings the products were a beauty. 

A T-shirt which really conveyed the message: – ‘GO GREEN’ and ‘CONSERVE WATER’ all in one.

Aah! Lamp shades! I am sure you have seen a whole lot of it everywhere but I am absolutely certain that you haven’t seen one made out of gourd shell. And yes I haven’t gotten my information wrong; these were indeed made out of gourd shells. 

 ‘Paruthi’ or India’s local organic brand as they would like to call themselves from Auroville, Pondicherry was another interesting brand I came across, to tell the truth their ‘Smart Bags’   caught my attention. These were cloth bags made in accordance to their motto “Smart Bags for a Smart Planet” and contrary to the plastic bags people generally still use.

Since I’m sure most of you haven’t heard about Kantha, it’s a type of embroidery practiced in the state of West Bengal, India, embroidery done only using running stitches very much similar to the decorative running stitch of Japanese sashiko quilting. 

Rajasthani badhnis (tie and dye) are quite popular all over India. And this particular lady heading the stall was especially friendly, chatting with me and answering willingly all my queries. She even demonstrated how a bandhini was being tied, as shown in the picture below.



By the end of this long day I was way too exhausted and tired to go on any longer, but somehow I left filled with a sense of satisfaction I can’t describe.

It is time for me to say good bye for now – Namaskaram.

(Photos: Bianca Celine Diane/Manningtree Archive)

16 thoughts on “DASTKAR – A SOCIETY FOR CRAFTS AND CRAFTS PEOPLE

  1. wow ! This is truly amazing! And that ‘aana’ (elephant) dung thing is surely a wonder and definitely something new ..really loved reading this ..hats off sis😀😀

  2. I just want to say I’m beginner to blogs and definitely liked this website. Almost certainly I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You really come with fabulous article content. Cheers for sharing with us your blog.

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