Bhopal: Women artisans showcase their work at all-women handicrafts and handlooms expo-cum-sale

BHOPAL: Around 30 women artisans from the state have set up their stalls at Meena Bazar - an all-women handicrafts and handlooms exhibition-cum-sale- ‘For the women, By the women, Of the women’ - at Gahuar Mahal in the city.

The nine-day exhibition, organised by the MP Handlooms and Handicrafts Development Corporation that began on Friday, is an attempt to revive the Pari Bazar tradition of the Nawabi era of Bhopal. The Bazaar has been organised after a gap of seven years. At Meena Bazaar, no male above nine is allowed to enter. A few artisans shared with the Free Press how their skills helped them to become Atmanirbhar.

Artisans' say on the go:

The gas tragedy consumed both my parents. Some years later, my elder brother also passed away, leaving me with the responsibility of looking after his three children. It was then that the art of making the traditional Bhopal batua, which I had learned as a hobby from one of my neighbours when I was a teenager, came in handy. I turned it into a business. My sister Afroz and I make the batuas. Between us, we manage to produce around 200-250 pieces a day. The income is enough to meet the household expenses. When the lockdown was imposed, we did not know what to do. The shops were closed and there was no way we could sell our products. Then, we decided to use the velvet cloth which we had bought for making the batuas for producing fancy face masks, embellished with zari-zardozi work. It was a hit. We could sell around 5,000 masks, made of velvet, khadi and cotton stuff.- Firoz Jehan, 50

I have studied till class eight. I had learned stitching, weaving and embroidery as a child. My father is a hammal (loader) and my mother works at a hospital. I make plazo, lehenga-choli, shararas and ghararas. The business is good. I could earn around Rs 40-50 thousand every month. That was before the pandemic struck. Now, the income is down to Rs 10-15 thousand. I, however, hope things will improve. This expo is a great idea. Males accompanying women often ask them to hurry up. When women are alone, they shop at leisure.- Sonam Kahar, 30

I am an MBA and was working for HDFC Bank. I, however, had to quit my job as my son fell seriously ill. Later, I decided to use the handicrafts I had learned as a child to make a living. I make jewellery of flowers and jute, bangles, decorative items etc. I regularly receive orders. It gives one a great satisfaction when people appreciate one’s designs. I have been doing this for the past 15 years. Modi ji theek kahte hain, ‘hunar hai, to kadar hai’ (If you have a skill, it will bring you respect).- Alpana Tamrakar, 48

I make paintings from stone dust. It is a painstaking work. It takes about 20-25 days to finish one painting. I started making these paintings when I was 18. After I got married, I gave up the business. Now that my children have grown up, I have started it again. My work fetches me a decent income and the appreciation and praise come as a bonus. I earn about Rs one lakh a month.- Jyoti Umbre, 35

Pari Bazar was an innovative idea in the sense that only women were the sellers and buyers there and there was strictly no entry for men. This enabled women to do their business and shopping freely. You must remember that the purdah and ghoonghat system was in vogue then which did not allow women to move and chat freely in the presence of men. Rajeev Sharma, MD, MP Handlooms and Handicrafts Development Corporation

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