Delhi's The Grand Handloom Fair pays homage to skilled craftspeople of India

Showcasing an array of regional handloom textiles, the ongoing ‘The Grand Handloom Fair’ pays homage to skilled craftspeople of India.

author_img Dyuti Roy Published :  24th November 2021 12:47 PM   |   Published :   |  24th November 2021 12:47 PM
handcrafted textiles

Patrons shopping from an array of handcrafted textiles.

Aruna from Vasant Vihar, who was busy shopping at Dastkar’s The Grand Handloom Fair at Nature Bazaar in Chhatarpur on Monday afternoon, said, “Handloom is all I wear so I always visit the Dastkar fair to pick up something.”

Working to uplift Indian artisans, Dastkar, a non-government organisation founded in 1981 by Laila Tyabji—one among the many notable names in the crafts sector—unveiled their handloom fair on Monday. The fair, which will continue till November 28, features more than 100 exhibitors. When we visited the venue on the first day, we noticed stalls featuring handloom textiles from about 19 states from across the country. Apart from textiles on showcase, there were regional musical performances hosted alongside ongoing demonstrations on spinning and weaving.

A testimony to regional artisans and the cultural heritage of our county, this fair is supported by Nila House—a craftsmanship centre established by the Lady Bamford Foundation, which is a charitable trust from Jaipur. Weavers from independent small business or NGO-based crafts projects are showcasing a range of fabrics like brocades, Khadi, and others using natural dyes and prints such as Ikat and Bagru.

There are woollens from Ladakh, Uttarakhand, and Kashmir as well as handlooms such as Kanjeeveram, Banarasi, Patola, Pashmina, and Paithani along with lesser-known crafts like Tangalia from Gujarat and Loin Loom weaves from Dimapur. Adhering to COVID-19 protocols such as mandatory masks, visitors are subject to temperature checks and sanitisation at the entrance.

 Patrons shopping from an array
of handcrafted textiles

Taxing yet fruitful

Antaran, an initiative by Tata Trusts that works towards strengthening the craft ecosystems, has brought Nagaland’s Loin Loom weavers to the forefront. Also called back-strap loom textiles, these intricate yarns are mostly crafted by women. Each weave takes about a week to create, mentioned Baby Resu, a weaver affiliated with Antaran. Similarly, Y Kanchana, from Andhra Pradesh, who received the Kamaladevi Puraskar in 2020 by the Delhi Crafts Council, brings the Srikalahasti Kalamkari—an art of dyed hand-painting on fabric produced in Srikalahasti—to the Capital.

“These are hand-painted using natural colours that I make myself. Each saree takes almost 25 days to create,” she said. Kanchana added that to create a perfect Kalamkari, one must have optimum climate; so in a tropical country such as India, the process is extremely taxing. Being in the Capital for the first time, she shared that though the language was a barrier for her, she had never felt this welcomed at any other exhibition. “Even though I can’t speak fluent English or Hindi, Dastkar supported me. Everyone is ready to help out if there is any problem,” Kanchana shared.

A fair representation

As a flock of handloom lovers and shoppers reached the venue from all over Delhi-NCR, this curated fair is helping fulfil the textile needs of a number of citizens. Swetashree Mazumdar from Noida, who was here with her friend Sonya Madeira from the UK, said, “Both Sonya and I have always supported handlooms. It is something we believe in as a cause. Meeting the craftspersons face-to-face is such a beautiful feeling.”

However, as an afterthought, she added, “Dastkar should think about ensuring a representation of the country as a whole. For the reach that they have, there are still many regions that are underrepresented. We are still missing Phulkari from Punjab, and the majority [crafts] from the North East. So, I think they should try and ensure that there is at least one representative from each state.”

Check it out

What: The Grand Handloom Fair, 2021

Where: Nature Bazaar, Andheria Mor, Chhatarpur

When: Till November 28; 11am-7pm

Entry fee: Rs 30