Handicrafts are a part of the rich Indian heritage. Historically, handicrafts have been one of the prominent industries providing livelihoods for many in rural India. Each state has a craft or a weave that is unique to it and has abundant demand in the country and huge export potential. As hand-made crafts are valuable, handicrafts never go out of style. However, over the years, handicrafts have faced stiff competitions from machine made products and mechanized processes.
Today, many handicrafts are found languishing and the crafts persons are in need of support in many forms. There is a dire need to provide access to markets and this is where initiatives like Hunar Haat play a prominent role in being ‘vocal for local’.
“Hunar Haat” can be described as a market place for the display of talent, skills and crafts from various states in India. It’s organized as a ‘skill bazaar’ where the local artisans of each state put up stalls and exhibit their crafts to be seen or bought.
Revival of handicrafts through Hunar Haat
Are you someone who is fascinated about wearing handlooms like Khadi, Ikkat, Kashmiri etc.? Do you wish to decorate your house with handcrafted decoratives? Through this article we would like to take you through a virtual tour of recently held Hunar Haat in Hyderabad where all such handicrafts are exhibited in an open ground for you to buy and spend time with your loved ones.
To encourage the artisans and give them recognition among the masses, as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Ministry of Minority Affairs organized Hunar Haat in Hyderabad, Telangana on 25th February 2022 to showcase the skills and talent of the artisans for the people who visit. Around 700 craftsmen from 30 states have exhibited their crafts in this Hunar Haat.
Exhibit of craft, cuisine and culture
The exhibition had various stalls with handicrafts from different states like Kashmiri shawls, Punjab’s Phulwari embroidery, Andhra Pradesh’s Kalamkari etc., but also had wide range of food stalls like Gujarati Dhokla, Hyderabadi Kebabs, Bihari Malpua and many other state cuisines for visitors to relish. Hunar Haat was also a venue for artists, singers and dancers to perform and showcase their talent and culture. Visiting this place was indeed a feast for the eyes with the festive vibes all around.
Spotlight on skills, talent and empowerment
Team NSN interacted with skilled artisans to learn about the skill, marketing, training process and entrepreneurship scope and opportunities that go behind a great handicraft. We spoke to the artisans who kept stalls of Kashmiri Shawls, Meghalaya and Assam’s Cane and Bamboo, Uttar Pradesh’s carpets, Odisha’s Palm Leaf Pattachitra.
“We work on new designs depending on the latest trends and market demand. My father has been practicing the cane and bamboo craft for ages and now, he is making new crafts like straws, flower vases, and flowers made from the mix of cane and bamboo” says Jennifer Suvim, while talking about exploring new designs and ideas to cater to today’s demand and trends.
Empowering artisans through training in handicrafts
For a craft to be made, training is much required to hone the talent with particular skills. The artisans are trained in each craft with the help of the local trainers and also by the family members who have been practicing the craft for ages.
“There are handmade shawls weaved with both heavy work and simple work which needs a lot of skill and labour. So, we are trained in both heavy stitched shawl and simple stitched shawl” – Syeda Seerat, Kashmiri artisan.
Syeda also said that she has been trained by her family who is working in this craft for ages and now they train a group of women in Kashmiri heavy and simple shawl stitching in Kashmir.
Government support for handicraft artisans
To raise awareness on the handicrafts and their artisans, the government is providing enough support by organizing expositions like Hunar Haat where there is immense recognition and also provides financial support for them to buy the raw materials required for handicrafts.
Marketing potential for handicrafts
For handicrafts to be bought or recognized, marketing plays a significant role and each state should have a defined marketplace. The artisans mostly practice self-marketing and sometimes, the government helps in providing direct profit from the buyer to seller. The artisans also work on new designs and crafts to keep up with the trends and demand.
There are a few e-commerce sites which sell handicrafts like Etsy, Amazon Karigar, AuthIndia, Craftsvilla and many more. These sites do not allow middlemen and being sold directly from the artisan.
“I learned the craft from my father and acquired those skills from childhood. Along with traditional products and designs with God idols, and drawings on palm leaf, now we have extended it to products like bookmarks, decorative items at home, toys for children, etc.” says Ashesh Chandra Swain, Palm leaf Pattachitra artisan from Odisha.
Initiatives like Hunar Haat and other expositions helps local artisans across the country to revive the dying craft and recognize their talent and skills. They have the potential to employ large number of people who are involved in handicraft business especially from rural areas. The young people will also get acquainted with handicrafts across the country which will further encourage them to learn the skills and continue the rich heritage.