The 33rd edition of Dastkari Haat Crafts Bazaar at Dilli Haat is all about celebrating Indian arts, crafts, textiles and culture. The annual event was inaugurated on 1 January 2019 in the presence of many dignitaries and spectators. It concludes on 15 January.
The Bazaar is grand this year, as 2019 marks 25 years of Dilli Haat. Jaya Jaitly, who founded the Dastkari Haat Samiti in 1986, and eventually persuaded the government to establish Dilli Haat, told us about her mission to provide a platform to craftspeople from various parts of India.
She said, “After the Samiti was formed, we started doing temporary bazaars in different parts of the country, inviting regional craftsmen to sell their products. I realised we needed a permanent forum where people could come. So I conceived the idea for Dilli Haat and established it by bringing in the Ministry of Textiles and Delhi Tourism. It was meant to be for original craftspeople who don’t have any other marketing opportunities. We have a bazaar every year and people look forward to it.”
The 15-day event plays host to more than 180 artisans and craftsmen from all parts of India every year. They come to Dilli Haat in rotations, every two weeks, and get to interact directly with customers. This negates the need to set up permanent shops and they can sell their products here through a buyer-seller meet.
About the need for the Bazaar, Jaya Jaitly said, “The absence of middlemen helps the customer to get the actual price from the maker and the maker gets to know what the customer really wants and likes. This is a more charming, indigenous, organic version of the buyer meeting the seller in a very comfortable environment. This is how Dilli Haat was imagined. That was the objective. I am trying to revive that.”
The product range at the event features a wide range of Vankar shawls of Gujarat, Banarasi textiles from Uttar Pradesh, handloom fabrics from Bengal, Bandhani from Gujarat, handwoven Chanderi, Kantha embroidery, Pattachitra paintings, home décor accessories and organic products etc.
At the Bazaar, one not does only find a selection of Indian handloom, traditional weaves and regional handicrafts, but one can also enjoy cultural performances from morning till evening. The itinerary of the bazaar includes heartwarming music from Kutch and tribal dance performances among other events.
Besides promoting and marketing artisanal products, Dilli Haat has been instrumental in creating job opportunities for craftspeople. But Jaya Jaitly feels that these days the popularity of the place has resulted in traders coming in large numbers and trying to oust the craftspeople. She said, “Today, most of the time, craftspeople don’t present their crafts. Traders occupy the space all year around and try to sell products made in factories. I am trying to fight against that.”
The Samiti doesn’t want traders to compete with craftspeople, especially during the Bazaar. So this year they have started the “Yellow Ribbon Campaign” to enable visitors to identify genuine craftspeople and buy authentic products from them. “The traders are using the e-bidding system which our craftsmen cannot use. They don’t have the exposure to use it. We need to curb this disparity. The bazaar is self-funded by the craftspeople. We don’t want them to lose their sales to regular traders,” she said.
To mark 70 years of diplomatic relations between India and Indonesia, the Dastkari Haat Samiti has also included Indonesian artisans in their “Craft and Skill Exchange” programme this year. The programme is aimed at educating craftspeople and enabling them to form international alliances.