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Katha – The real art of hands


I had such an heart-warming experience when I visited Ranchi in Jharkhand early this year, little knowing that this will be probably be one of the very few experiences of travelling in remote villages to see artisans and their work in the year 2020 . Didn’t know then that, COVID-19 pandemic would immobilize us for most part of the year.

As it was beginning of the year, I was excited of this trip. It is the first time, I was visiting Ranchi. In my pursuit to find artisans and to understand their skills in remote villages of India, this was one of those trips to broaden my understanding and be mindful and curious at the same time. What made this whole journey more special is the fact that I was going to visit the cluster of women artisans, who have this unique skill of hand embroidery woven using different fabrics. This was the place called Pundag, which is about 10 kms from city of Ranchi.

WOMEN, generally have a very close place in my heart. I have so much respect for women, because I personally believe that, it is not easy to survive as a woman no matter which part of the world you come from, or which generation of human race you belong to. They are vulnerable yet courageous and face so many unique hardships in life. Accountability and ownership come just naturally for every woman.

When I had reached the place, I saw a group of 20-25 women sitting inside a small shop meant for repairing electronics and electrical items, happily weaving while talking and engaging in their own small talks. The women, typically come down to this shop to earn some money to help manage their families or their own small needs. They come in after they finish their daily household work and if they get time, which do change as one can imagine on a daily basis based on what all work they need to take care back home. However, here in this small space, they create using the magic in their hands in bringing to life those beautiful embroidery work in Sarees, dupattas and even in earrings.

Yes, I never saw such a beautiful earring with hand woven embroidery before! I just fell in love with the skills of these women artisans.  Little do they realize, the gift they have and what a beauty it turns out into that people like me can just fall in love with. During my interactions with all the women folks there, my eyes fell upon a young girl. She had to quit her studies and had to stay at home. Her way to kill boredom is to come to this small shop every day and learn the craft form to develop into a skill that she could carry on for the rest of her life. The next generation in pipeline. She says, she is learning the skills and is quite confident that she will become an expert very soon. I like her confidence. She loves Samosas and laddu. Her eyes glittered when I said, Farida, tell me where can I get samosas now? Didi, she said, I will take you to the shop just next street and they must be making hot samosas now. While I saw her eat her favorite snack, my mind wandered and was immersed in my own thoughts, how do I give her and other women, who have this great skill, a sustainable livelihood.  How do I help in showcasing the gifted skills they have to the rest of the world? Some of the women in the village, who are very talented have stopped contributed because they don’t think it is worth the effort for the money they get. They do not know or understand the skill and gift they have!! Some of them think it is easier to work in the factory that will give them more money and faster turnaround of work they do, like masala powder packaging.

Farida doesn’t know what she will do after she gets married, especially, if she needs to move to another village. She does not know if she would get an opportunity to knit embroidery in the new place and earn her livelihood or will she ever be able to continue her skills. She may just get busier with her own family responsibilities and end up  forgetting how to continue to weave her way to our hearts …..


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