Bhopal(Madhya Pradesh): For five days now, Dharmendra Rathore from Rajasthan has been waiting for his first customer. Not even one of the miniature paintings he has brought from neighbouring state has been sold so far. “Boni hi nahi huyee hai,” he complains.
This is the story of all the 17 artisans who have set up stalls around him. Dharmendra is among the 185-odd artisans from different states who has set up stalls at ongoing Deepotsava Mela on the premises of Ravindra Bhavan. On sale are utilitarian and decorative handicraft and handloom products ranging from clothes to toys to utensils to paintings.
The fair is a part of the seven-day international Shri Ramleela Utsav organised jointly by the culture department and Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The festival began on October 16 and will conclude on October 22.
According to Sanjay Paria from Delhi (stall number 72), they sleep at their stall for fear of thieves. “At night, mosquitoes torment us and in the day lack of customers,” he said. “We were told that this is an international event. But the number of visitors cannot be compared to village fairs,” he said.
Rohit Kumar from Bihar (stall number 82) who brought Madhubani paintings expressed similar views. At stall number 1, an artisan from Telangana who is selling Kalamkari carpets said that the sale proceeds were not even enough to cover their living expenses.
Saini Devi from Pokhran, Rajasthan (stall number 68), has brought decorative items made of clay. “Some small pieces have been sold but whatever I earned was spent on food,” she said.
Mohammed Nasir from Bhagalpur (Bihar) said, “They have publicised Ramleela but not mela,” he said. Nasir said that his total sales had been worth Rs 8,000 while he is spending Rs 1,500 per day on food etc.
Genda Bai from Ujjain, Tapas Kumar from West Bengal, Faiz Ansari from Chanderi in MP and Buddhadev Waghmare from Betul also complained of poor sales.