BANGALORE: Indian culture is known for its rich tradition and art. Unfortunately, most craftsmen and artisans often remain largely unappreciated and, with Western influences seeping into our consciousness, their work goes unrecognised most of the times. The craft bazaar at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath brings together numerous forms of art and craft from across the country, with a versatile range that showcases various traditions from the Indian heritage. The Bazaar which started on May 25 will continue till June 3. There are over 125 stalls in the Mela, and each of these has something unique to offer. The products range from fabric, jewellery, and painting to pottery, furniture, stationery, and even food. Almost 20 states have showcased their works and each piece — be it apparel or kitchenware — is a piece of art that has a reflection of the place that it originates from. “Over 24 states are represented here,” said N G Gangadhara Rao, Administrative Officer of Kala Madhyam, an NGO that organised the Mela.
This is the thirteenth time that the mela will be held, and the variety on offer is mind boggling. Be it the Kolhapuri Chappals, decorative? flowers from Nagaland, Pashmina shawls or even the recycled paper and stationery made from elephant manure, there is something for everyone at this bazaar. The second day of the mela saw many interested visitors milling around and examining the wares on display. However, stall owners expect to see a bigger crowd as the days pass by. One stall owner mentioned, “We see a bigger crowd in the evenings.” The stalls are usually rented by rural artisan communities or entrepreneurs who work from home and sell their products at exhibitions. Several NGOs and self help groups are also present. “We used to supply to bigger shops before, but we had a problem with payment. Now we only travel to these kinds of exhibitions.” Ranganath, working at one of the stalls, commented.
Similarly, there are various craftsmen who only set up shop at exhibitions, or sell their products wholesale.
Many of these products are not available in local markets. Some artistes, however, do supply their work to commercial enterprises but find that retailers tend to charge exorbitant rate for the same product. Archana, who was visiting the Bazaar for the third time, opined, “The rates have gone up a little since the last time I visited. However,? since many of the stall owners recognise us, we got some great discount.” On being asked to compare the rates to other shopping hubs, she replied, “It is still cheaper than any other place.”
She also finds this exhibition more convenient than other shopping spots. “Here, we find everything in one place and there is no need to walk around,” she added. The Boers, from Netherlands, who were visiting the bazaar for the first time were enthralled by the cornucopia of colours and cultures on display. “We moved here only a few months ago, and we had no idea that there was so much variety here in India,” they stated. “We like it very much here and everything’s wonderful. We’ve just bought a beautiful painting,” Boer exclaimed, proudly clutching the Madhubani painting that he had just picked up. Meanwhile, his wife was delighted to know that the Mela is held twice a year.
A visit to the craft bazaar is an experience in itself and visitors can expect to discover several knick knacks that will make them exclaim with delight. It takes an hour to take a tour to assess what’s on offer, and another to closely inspect everything, and visitors are advised to be prepared to spend a few hours if they want a glimpse of everything.