The participation of women artisans has increased at the Hunar Haat, which is being organised at the 37th India International Trade Fair (IITF) in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. Coordinated by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Hunar Haat aims to provide a platform for handicrafts and handlooms of master artisans and craftsmen from across the country. 

Hunar Haat has proved beneficial for workers like Harjeet Kaur because it allows them to connect directly with traders. Kaur, a Phulkari worker,  runs a workshop in Patiala where she and her sister not only run the whole household, but also generate livelihood for 10-12 women.  “This is my first time here and I am glad to be able to become part of this platform. The Trade Fair is still in its first week and is not yet open to the public. I am hoping that once the general public is allowed, sales will go up,” Kaur told this newspaper.

Reshma, a metaware manufacturer from Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, said, “The Trade Fair is a huge opportunity for us because we need to reach a larger audience to be able to sell our products. Hunar Haat helps us reach a market where there is a demand for our goods.”

Inaugurating the Haat earlier this week, Minister for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had said: “While on the one hand, the Hunar Haat has provided a platform to master artisans and craftsmen to display their rich heritage and skills, on the other, these exhibitions are providing domestic and international markets to these artisans and craftsmen.”

However, there has been a fall in the number of artisans and stalls in Hunar Haat compared to last year. Officials managing the Hunar Haat said: “This time, 133 artisans, 70 stalls, four state award winner artisans and eight national award winner artisans are participating in Hunar Haat from 20 only states. (It was more last year.) Participation is low because of the lack of space in Pragati Maidan, which is undergoing re-development. However, the number of women participants has increased, with 30-35 women entrepreneurs setting up stalls in Hunar Haat.”

Among various handicrafts on sale at Hunar Haat in Hall 7G&H are cane, bamboo, jute products of Assam, varieties of silk from Bhagalpur, jewellery from Rajasthan, kantha products from West Bengal; brocades from Varanasi; Lucknawi chikan work and zardozi from UP; Khurja ceramic products; blackstone pottery from the Northeast; Kalamkari from Telangana; mural paintings and bandhej from Gujarat, etc.

Displaying his work at Hunar Haat, Husen M. Hada, 52, an oil paint artist, said, “I have brought with me 14 years of my work. Some of my latest works are on display in the Hunar Haat.” The most expensive painting at Hada’s stall is for Rs 155,000, while the cheapest is priced at Rs 40,000. 

Another interesting stall at Hunar Haat is of “Koshish” where Sahil, a 20-year-old boy suffering from Down Syndrome, is displaying his hand-made jute work.

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