Putting their heart in the art
Yellow Ribbon NGO Fair (YRNF), is back with its 12th edition. The main objective of the fair, which was started by Parul and Sailesh Mehta in 2008, is to provide a platform to NGOs and SHGs (Self Help Groups) across the nation to sell their products under one roof. YRNF has also helped in bridging the gap between artisans and customers. The fair started with 45 NGOs and now the count exceeds 120.
We spoke to a few participating NGOs and got some insight on their work. Excerpts...
Among the several organisations working towards conserving India’s art forms is Saath, an Ahmedabad-based NGO, which is bringing Tangaliya and Patola artworks to YRNF. Tangaliya or Daana weaving is a 700-year-old tradition practised in Surendranagar district, Saurashtra in Gujarat by the Dangasia community. It involves beautiful geometric patterns made with tiny dots on fabric which also gives an effect of bead embroidery. The designs made from cotton or woollen yarns are used for preparing shawls, dupattas and dress materials. It requires a high level of skill and accuracy.
Says Bella Joshi, project manager at Saath, “Saath was formed in 1989 and since 30 years, we are working with socially marginalised communities by providing them equitable living opportunities.”
Speaking about how they came across Tangaliya art, she says, “During the 2001 earthquake, we worked in affected areas like Surendranagar taluka that has many weaving communities and realised that there are many crafts that people do not know much about. We got in touch, and also closely worked with, artisans who were into Tangaliya, Patola art etc. A project named Rweaves (meaning rural weaves) was undertaken especially for Tangaliya and Patola artisans to teach them designing and marketing skills so that they understand what works for the urban market.”
The intention to start Rweaves, says Joshi, was to invite the second generation of weavers to carry forward the tradition. “In order to earn a better living, they take up different jobs and are then reluctant to take their art traditions forward. When we started working, we had only two Tangaliya artisan families on board but today we have around 30 Tangaliya and Patola artisans,” she says.
Saath has been associated with Yellow Ribbon fair for the last five years. “Through such fairs, we can easily connect with different customers and also widen our network and contacts,” Joshi says.
Patola sarees are a prized possession for many who wear them for special occasions like weddings. These handwoven sarees are the result of months and years of hard work by the weavers. The intricate designs involve a tremendous amount of perseverance as well as skill and many weavers have been carrying forward this tradition for years now.
Mayurbhai Patolawala from Rajkot, Gujarat, is a 75-year-old company. Bakulbhai Makwana, a weaver and the owner of Mayurbhai Patolawala, is the fourth generation artist to carry forward the tradition of Patola weaving. Makwana says, “I have around 50 karigars working for us. This is the first year of my association with Yellow Ribbon. I have got around 90 sarees along with dress materials with a variety of designs. Rajkot Ikat and Patan Patola that is double Ikat, zari border saree, and zari boota are some of the designs that people will get to see at the Yellow Ribbon NGO Fair.”
Makwana did not know much about Yellow Ribbon fair when he got a call from them. “After having a small discussion over call, I sent them a few samples of the materials and they liked it. After this, they gave me order for the fair. I hope I will be able to expand my contact base and get more orders than what I usually get. The platform provided by YRNF will help me grow in different markets as well,” he says.
Ajara Agro Pvt Ltd from Ajara taluka, Kolhapur, which was established in 2012, has been associated with Yellow Ribbon NGO Fair from the last year. YRNF has given it an opportunity to showcase a variety of farm products under one roof. The company produces organic agriculture products including different varieties of rice and pulses. It was established by 2,000 -2,500 farmers, with the aim to provide best quality, chemical free and non hybrid food products to their customers and reintroduce the forgotten varieties. D K Desai, manager-tech and marketing, Ajara Agro, says, “The specialities of Ajara rice which is high on nutrition value are that it has a good aroma, contains fibre and is easy to digest. The other types of rice produced by the company include Indrayani, Kolam, Kala Jirga, Ambemohar etc. We also grow red and white chawli, toor dal, masoor, matki, green and yellow moong dal etc. Black and red rice are the latest varieties to be included by the next year. Besides these, the company offers jaggery, cashew nuts and special gluten-free Khapli wheat which is consumed by diabetes and high blood pressure patients, and is also good for cancer patients.”
He adds that even though the prices of their products are a little higher than that of the market price, considering that the materials are 100 per cent organic, it is reasonable.
Purkal Stree Shakti
Purkal Stree Shakti, an NGO from Purkal, Dehradun, started its journey from 2003 to empower and give the women a chance to earn their livelihood. The organisation was started by Chinni Swamy. Earlier, women at Purkal knew just one skill — cooking. Keeping this in mind, Swamy along with some women, started production of snacks, which later failed due to various reasons. But, with a passion to provide women the best, she looked for alternatives and successfully came up with the idea to inculcate an ethnic touch in everyday products. So training and skill enhancement became an integral part of the organisation.
“The artisans make cushion covers, quilts, hand bags, toiletry bags, pouches and other designer products. The organisation which started with two women, now helps more than 170 women from more than 40 different villages. We provide pick and drop services, food and evening tea. This will be the second time that Purkal Stree Shakti is participating in YRNF,” says Amit Rajpur, a member of the group, adding that they got really good response last year and are expecting the same this year.
“Though we are offering the same products this year too, the variation in design is something to look forward to. We also follow some themes, for example, for baby quilts, we add different cartoon characters and appropriate colour patterns. Whatever we find interesting and fresh, we try to add it in our products,’ adds Rajpur.
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The Yellow Ribbon NGO Fair is being held till Monday at Creaticity, opp Golf Course, off Airport Rd, Yerawada from 11 am onwards