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CHATTISGARH…THE LAND OF DHOKRA AND KOSA…..RARE ARTS -Raipur Chattisgarh

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This is my first visit to the east. I landed at Swami Vivekananda Airport, Raipur at 7 pm. The newly built airport by all means just gives the indication the way the state is heading to. The facilities, cleanliness and the entire layout are so well done that it just makes anyone at home even for a first timer like me.

          

I decided to head straight to the Chattisgarh Rajyotsav at Naya Raipur, since it was open till late in the night. Also the weather was so pleasant that it just took away my tiredness from the whole day travel from Cochin, hopping two flights via Hyderabad. The roads in the city are so well maintained that it took us very less time to cover 21 kms, and the first thing we did on reaching the venue was savour some hot Aloo Tikki Chat and coffee, pumping enough energy to start the work.

        

The entire area was very lively, well lit up with many mouth watering food counters and stalls, and there was so much of fun and frolic all over, by the kids and families who have come to have a good time on this early winter evening. Seeing all this, I moved to the array of exhibition stalls. The rare products made in Chattisgarh include Dhokra a rare bell metal art form using lost wax technology made traditionally by the tribals of Kondagaon and Bastar, and the Kosa Silk Sarees mainly from the regions of Raigarh.

I met various artisans and weavers at these stalls making these priceless handicrafts. It was an experience of a lifetime to meet them and discuss the details of their art, and the way they inherited this legacy and, how they strive to keep this rare skill alive. Most of these artisans I met at these stalls were National and State award winners for Shilpkala. They shared with me their happiness, their hardships, the challenges they face, their success stories and the various accolades they have received. They were grateful to the state government for the various initiatives implemented which are benefiting them in the long and short terms. One of their main concern was obviously the right price they deserve for every piece of art they make. The other concern is the lack of infrastructure and training institutes for nurturing these art forms for the future generation.

 

It took me the two whole days to complete the entire Rajyotsav and meet each and every artisan and weaver at the exhibition. The concept of rareitis, was of immense interest to all of them. They understood that it’s a platform for them to showcase their talent directly in front of a wider reach of audience and sell their products for a better return. They were all enthusiastic to sell their products on the website, though I took some time to make them understand the whole process of uploading the products and doing the online sale.

          

The visit to Jhitku Mitki a Stall under Chattisgarh Van Hasthakala for Dhokra Products and the live demonstration of silk manufacturing process from the cacoons are few of the experiences which will last with me forever. The silk worms, laying eggs and excreting larvae, making of the coccons…. I couldn’t resist myself from taking those exclusive pictures on my SLR.

On the third day, I made a long trip from Raipur to Kondagaon, 200 kms from Raipur in the heart of the thick forests, where these tribals live, the place where the activity happens. I went to the artisans making Dhokra, had a real time experience watching them making these idols from bell metal. Seeing the process, you understand that Dhokra is actually priceless. Any price given to it is much less compared to the effort and time it takes. Mr. Kushal Bhansali a budding entrepreneur from Kondagaon had been my contact in this place. He was instrumental in taking me to all these places, introducing me to all the craftsmen and explaining me the process of making. Finally I bid adieu to Kondagaon before dusk, as I had a long way to go and it was safe to reach the main Raipur Highway before dark.

             

To know more about Dhokra Bell Metal wares, please click here.

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