What better than a quick Boho fix for your lovely wardrobes and beautiful homes. Meet Boriya Basta, a lifestyle label that would help you select from their colourful array of products. The brand is taking sustainable ethno-fashion to a different level with its unique, one-of-a-kind kilim bags, Afghani-style kilim jewellery, earthy handmade home decor, kilim footwear, and much more. Kilim is a flat-woven, pileless, textile or a rug, which originated in Persia, Iran and the Balkans. The brand’s homegrown, experimental craftsmanship, focusing on the flatweave textiles, is perhaps its biggest appeal. The Kilim kolhapuri chappals are their most recent addition. The chappals are made exclusively in Kolhapur, Maharashtra to retain their authenticity and the craft in itself.
“We want to focus on Indian hand-woven textiles that are lesser known. Kilim is something that is interesting and unique at the same time; the kilim we use is hand-woven using cotton yarn, as it is more convenient for the predominant Indian climate.” Deepika Dayal, the mind behind the label, tells us. Boriya Basta’s stunning range of kilim bags, kolhapuris chappals for both men and women, and even their home decor collection are taking over Instagram. In fact, the brand’s bucket bag and kolhapuris were sported by Sonam Kapoor in the film PadMan.
Boriya Basta works with grass-root level weavers in several parts of Uttar Pradesh. The weavers work meticulously to bring out some mesmerizing pieces designed by Deepika. Not just that, the brand also has a sustainable zero-waste focus. Its newest jewellery line which features the most astonishing range of Afghani-inspired jewellery, focusing on kilim, is actually made with the leftover patches of fabrics which are discarded during the making of cushion covers or shoes. “Kilim is completely hand-woven, because a lot of energy and effort goes into weaving it, we realised that we needed to utilise even the leftover scraps in some way. A few hit-and-trials gave way to our jewellery line. It’s different, and unlike anything we get to see, and people are loving it,” Deepika
Boriya Basta’s home decor range, which features kilim cushion covers, and rugs are also extremely popular. The designs are inspired by the native American Navajo motifs, the colours are happy and vibrant too. Boriya Basta has obviously found a huge connect with the millennial crowd, as indie apparel and accessories, featuring traditional craftsmanship are all the rage now.
Deepika exerts, that a lot of her customer base is made up of people aged between 30 to 50— especially when it comes to their home furnishing items. “Our designs have this earthiness, which is appealing. Some people don’t want to do a lot with their decor, and they want things to be simple and interesting, and they always come to us for inspiration,” Deepika remarks. Boriya Basta’s preppy Aztec and tribal prints give the line-up a distinct edge, and we were also quite impressed with their handy traveller bag collection.
Neetasha Singh is from humble background, born and raised in an Indian township Phoenix, Durban (KZN) surrounded by poverty and drug abuse, she has mastered the art of creating her own opportunities. She is one of South Africa’s most celebrated role models.
To date Neetasha Singh has traveled and Modeled across 52 countries at some of the premium Fashion Weeks around the world such as:
Ever since the tender age of 13 she has desired being on stage whether modeling, acting or dancing, her burning passion has kept her on and off stag- es as a professional model for the past 13 years, and her very first pageant was Miss Teen India SA at the age of 12.
Brand Ambassador for:
Movie Features and achievements: Acted in 3 local movies;
Inputs: Nithya Ramesh: Bureau Chief – fashion & entertainment
Fashion trends are all about being one step ahead, so it’s never too early to think about what will be in style next. While the fashion world loves to look to the future, the summer of 2019 will take a cue from the past.
Here are the latest trends that are predicted to impact the women’s market in Summer Season’19.
Embrace utilitarian aesthetics
Silhouettes are organic yet structurally modern, cut from weighted natural fibers will make for strong shape definition. The trend moves towards deep-cut necklines and asymmetric designs that will showcase a new feminine attitude to utilitarian aesthetics, moving the look in a contemporary direction through inky forest tones.
Focus on organic finishes
Jungle depths and tropical undergrowth will inspire print and pattern directions for summer season’19 (SS’19). Palm leaf designs enhanced by textured cotton and jacquard bases while abstracted flora and fauna motifs and tonal colour-ways will introduce modern print techniques providing a contemporary look. Materials are focussing on raw, organic finishes and natural state textures. Compact cottons are lending lightweight summer fabrications a durable and hard-wearing quality. 2019 promises all kinds of exciting and innovative fabric trends. The affinity for natural fibers, rustic materials and ‘craft fashion’ being showcased at these fairs celebrates Mother Nature in all her unspoiled glory.
There is a desire to go ‘back to basics’ and embrace simplicity tapping into wider trends in consumer behaviour. Along with their demands for greater transparency, Generation Y is kicking back against the constraints of perfection, preferring instead to celebrate quirks and imperfections for their uniqueness. This is part of a whole new movement seen among younger people who are generally more willing to accept differences and embrace inclusivity than generations before. Taking a step back from the hectic pace of the digital age to tackle the ‘time poverty’ it fosters, consumers are turning to reflective practices like mindfulness and relishing the time things take to grow, develop and mature.
Use of creased textures
Wrinkled textures are firmly on trend. The season celebrates intriguing tactile surfaces through a range of crinkled and creased looks, evoking the patterns and textures we experience in nature. Puckered textures are also created through plissé effects, incorporating both synthetic and natural fibers including cupro, viscose and crepe yarns as well as cotton and cotton blends. In a similar vein, pleats and plissé effects work to create rippling surfaces that bring water to mind. The clever use of space dye imbues lightweight knits with mottled pebble effects, mossy patterns and surfaces like speckled eggs. These effects, in slubbed bouclé and tactile plush, as well as nep constructions, form a key part of this trend. Spring/summer 2019 sees strong palettes of bold colours artfully woven together, celebrating the riot of hues we see as the frost melts away and the blooms spring up around us. Playful, contemporary and confident, the versatility of printed yarns creates effects that vary from airy and ethereal to verdant and fresh.
Use of iridescent colours
Some of the keywords this season are shine, transparency, layering, fringes and natural looks. Opalescent and iridescent colours and effects seem to be the decoration highlights for Summer’19. Not only effective threads and seams are used for embroidery but multi-needle quilting also makes for a very attractive option. There are three key colours integral to the season’s fashion. Steel Pink refreshes pastel palettes with a cooler, more contemporary feel. The blackened hues of Deep Dark Navy provides an update to a classic hue and introduces a trans-seasonal tone into the season’s core colour family. Likewise, Blonde Camel reworks a classic shade with a sun-faded cast perfect for summer.
Metallic Pink hues inject a fresh sense of femininity into the seasonal fashion colour palette.
Cool steely tones update previously sugary shades.
Feminine tones have a contemporary edge.
Soft knits, fluted silhouettes and pleats have a grown-up appeal.
Deep Dark Navy
Navy is reinvented this season as core tones take a deeper, darker approach with an ‘almost black’ appearance.
Inky, saturated shades evoke a borrowed-from-the-boys aesthetic.
Updated core classics tap into the masc-femme trend.
Trans seasonal darks are increasingly important for spring/summer.
Camel tones are contemporised for the season with a bleached-out cast and a softly-faded finish.
Parched, desert inspired hues echo sun-scorched destinations.
Camel tones enhance the masculine of tailored silhouettes.
Summer outerwear, shirting and suits have a classic formality.
Writer: Gautam Gupta
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Noted Odissi dancer and choreographer Sharmila Mukerjee says her adaptation of the Russian ballet, Swan Lake, is a vivid communication with her audience.
When Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake premiered at the Bolshoi theatre, Moscow, in 1875, there was thrill and a moment of absolute happiness. “But only a moment,” or so wrote Tchaikovsky in his diary.
With numerous adaptations of the iconic ballet, there have also been a number of versions of the same story — where the dancers’ breathless skill is piqued by exquisite pain — however, no other version of the ballet had ever carried a cultural change in Swan Lake.
Odissi dancer and founder of Sanjali, Sharmila Mukerjee’s adaptation brings a complete cultural transformation presenting Hansika, the first Odissi adaptation of the Russian ballet. It showcases a western classical theme through an Indian classical one.
It is a compelling tale of romance and deception, an intimate portrait of a love affair between Prince Siegfried and Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorceress.
Through fluid Odissi movements, Mukerjee presents the classic through poses that make the artists look like sculptures and intricate footwork to lend itself into the fabric of ballet. She named it Hansika to “Indianise” the Russian folktale.
However, how challenging is it to transform a ballet story into a classical dance performance without any dialogues or narration?
Sharmila says that even though very explicit expressions are given to each sequence to make the feelings obvious and reachable to the audience, she has also used dialogues at three places in the whole act “otherwise it would have been impossible to tell the audience certain things. You can’t just enact a scene where the feelings do not have a large say. If the scene has a setup you have to bring in dialogues even in a dance performance.”
She adds that the major challenge was that she “had to edit the script in a way that the Indian audience could relate to it as well. I didn’t want to show just a story.”
While various other versions simply follow the plot, where an evil sorceress transforms the protagonist into a swan, Mukerjee’s adaptation also questions, why the sorceress suddenly becomes evil and why she curses? Why only swan and not any other animal? What could be the other things that lead to the events?
The dancer, whose first dance lessons in her childhood were in ballet, says that she has been highly inspired by ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. And Swan Lake has been one of her favourite ballet creations.
“There was not enough courage, preparation, financial stability, funding or dancers that I could have done it before. But I have always wanted to recreate it. It was a long-held dream for me,” says Mukerjee.
It is after they had a got the approval from the Ministry of Culture that the performance could be planned and staged.
So how was the performance structured? As the original tale has many acts and scenes, there was an ensemble of 25 artists. She explains that classical dances have always been colourful and visually bright, unlike ballet that generally uses light colours and mostly whites. “There were costumes, formations and expressions to present all the twists and turns in the Russian folktale,” says she.
The dancer has taught dance and movement therapy to deaf children in Kolkata and Bengaluru. She tells us that teaching them dance was really difficult. “We had to plan strategies as they need a lot of time and energy to channelise. I worked with therapists and attended workshops to figure a plan to teach them. We had a mega production in Kolkata comprising of 50 students. It turned out to be good. The children were very good at using facial expressions. Indeed challenging, but worth it,” she says.
She believes that for an artist, the path is never smooth. “It’s always a struggle. Emotionally, physically and mentally, there are things that are always draining you. There’s a lot of work and challenges, especially on financial notes. There’s no time for an artist to sit back and relax. Even now that I just completed Hansika, I am back to thinking about my next performance and production. So it’s a never-ending process.”
Talking about how social media has been taking over young minds and increasing competition among talents, she says, “Social media can be very deceptive and not everyone is doing good work there. This way, competition has indeed increased but no matter how much a person is doing, they are putting everything on social media, every bit of their work. They become overnight sensations but only for a short span. It’s difficult to be noticed so easily for good work but it doesn’t need social media to find recognition.”
Writer: Chahak Mittal
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Due to its on-point representation, Nothing Like Lear took the audience through a roller coaster ride of emotions, says Ayushi Sharma
Ever thought what a clown does when he is depressed? He fakes smiles, makes the audience burst out in laughter even though deep down, he is unwilling to speak. There’s some agony that’s keeping him from being happy. Well, just a day ago, I came across one who hasn’t stopped crying since days and has plenty of reasons for it. The one he loved the most has left him and gone overseas. He is left with nothing now. Also, the fact that he’s getting older.
The play, Nothing Like Lear, started with actor Vinay Pathak entering the stage just in time, dressed as a clown, with his big brown briefcase. He tried to keep it very intimate so he started interacting with the audience by repeating the words, ‘it hasn’t started yet’, ‘you didn’t miss anything’, ‘people are still coming in, it’s the capital you see’. The audience couldn’t agree more with him and laughed their hearts out, waiting eagerly for the lights to get dim and the play to kick off. Indeed, true. It’s the capital and how on earth the people could be on time. The play was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear by Rajat Kapoor, who delivered it with his own little twists and turns at the third edition of the Delhi Theatre Festival.
King Lear is one of the most famous tragedies of William Shakespeare. It was believed to have been written between 1605-1606 and was based on a legend of the Leir of Britain, a pre-Roman Celtic king from mythology. It was a story full of betrayal, death and one’s descent into madness. Nothing Like Lear was way across the borders but it was a tragedy nevertheless.
As the plot proceeded towards a Lear-like flashback, Pathak’s exceptional one-and-half-hour monologue recalled how he did not want his daughter to grow old quickly. It was when his daughter tried to stand up while crawling with the help of the table’s leg, he amusingly pushed her down to stop her from being on her own this early. And said, ‘Why are you in a hurry to grow up? Keep crawling, my child! The world is bad for you to be out there.’ While it attracted some grins and giggles, it was also quite disheartening to see him go through the pain of being separated from the loved ones at a certain age. His daughter refused to let him in, even though he travelled across borders just to see her. Due to its on-point representation, it took us through a roller coaster ride of emotions that made us fear growing old and the sense of losing the loved ones.
His acting conveyed each emotion so realistically that it felt like it was everything you have already witnessed or going to witness in your life.
Pathak, through the play, conveyed about his various encounters with depression, the major one being parting from his daughter, who meant the world to him. He also talked about how good his brother is in acting and how he would have played a particular scene differently with much intense passion. He portrayed that he was a mere fool presenting this play. If it would have been his brother, the play would have been so much better. Between these tales, he also enacted the scenes from King Lear. The scenes were intensely interwoven with the tales from his life. And it is at that moment when one would have realised the relevance of Shakespeare even today.
Not only did Pathak manage to capture the attention of the audience for the whole duration of the show but his portrayal of different characters impressed us the most. With a slight change in his voice, he was a different person altogether. There were moments when he tried to recall some specific terms with the help of the audience. Although he explicitly asked us to not to help him instantly and gave us a tag of the “educated audience,” who knows everything.
To see King Lear through the eyes of a clown was to see him as a man, as a father, as an outcast and as a child. It was like to view a fool through the eyes of a fool. Pathak lived his entire life within the tempest of the theatre. The search for a contemporary tale of a father and a daughter was brought to life by the one man, who portrayed the grain of Shakespeare’s fiction brilliantly. Although the play was an arduous journey of every emotion, its length played a bit negative role.
Writer: Ayushi Sharma
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Bhutanese artist Zimbiri creates a symphony of preludes and nocturnes with her tiger series, says Uma Nair
Once in a blue moon you come across a set of works that evokes multiple perspectives. One of the series of artworks at the Delhi Contemporary Art Week at the Visual Arts Gallery does something similar. It is Nature Morte’s solo exhibition of Bhutanese artist Zimbiri that creates a symphony of preludes and nocturnes with her tiger series. Heightened, self-evolved, moody and dramatic, she creates a set of images that reflect the tiger in repose and in a somber mood.
Zimbiri’s works are gentle like the breeze that waft across the mountains. Her tigers speak of great passages in time, a strong sense of physicality, a rhythmic sumptuous beauty of mane and luxuriant stripes that echo the integrity of nature’s perfection.
It certainly makes you think of Dutch Master Vermeer’s enlivening accents of bright white. One thinks of melding the surreal syntax with a minimalist mood that seeks to define the source and dignity of pose and poise. If Head In The Clouds delivers a deliberate message of ascension, the boxed series is a feline lover’s delight. Zimbiri’s tigers seem to float amid harmonious and colourful relationships. Her tigers move beyond aesthetic elegance as their yellow and black stripes and their smooth fur evoke the state of being.
Zimbiri had a show of masks at Nature Morte. This suite of seven studies only on the tiger are in distinct contrast to the brightly coloured compositions of floral or arboreal themes. The pale and seemingly surreal stripes on these monochrome tigers, done in straw yellow and raven black, may at first appear to have been brushed but close examination shows that a vast swathe of the animal’s hair has been minutely painted into finely woven strokes. The stripes, legs, paws and mouth have been indicated with full, moist lines and you can see deeply expressionist notes in her feline cats that even smile, roar, jump and dance in their framed boxes.
Her works start with the traditional materials and techniques used in Bhutanese art: sa-tschen (earth paint) and rhay-shing (hand-woven canvas). These impart a ghostly presence to the images that she paints, communicating a sense of fragility, as if these traditions themselves might soon disappear. Her art is a perfectly post-modern synthesis, which combines the local with the global and the contemporary with the traditional. Born in 1991, Zimbiri studied both Art and Economics at Wheaton College in the USA.
The soft application of earth paint and the hand woven canvas, both become materials as well as the media that result in a gentle, even sensuous looking, feline species.
Zimbiri renders her tigers with compelling physiognomic accuracy (a practice of assessing a person’s character or personality from their outer appearance—especially the face). At the same time, however, such works reveal the historical progression of cultural interaction and exchange; they function as evidence of the ways in which indigenous cultures incorporate foreign elements, out of which arise new and innovative forms alongside existing traditions. Zimbiri says she decided on the tiger because it is endangered as well as considered precious in Bhutanese mythic history. Most of the animals in their mythic tales belong to the past and the tiger, too, will one day become a species of the past.
She weaves eastern notions and traditions in her work but gives us a modernist moorings that is hallmark of her tiger paintings. The artist focusses on the meticulous expression of the tiger’s black stripes. By contrast, the stripes in her paintings tend to be more than just simple black ink lines. She renders them as more two-dimensional giving them an alluring flatness. Since tigers are indigenous to the Himalayas, she depicts them from the blending of realism as well as imagination, as brave and fierce spirits, which makes portrayals of them highly desirable. What is interesting too is that her tigers tend to have different facial expressions and suggestions of temperaments.
Wondrous and magnificent
In her boxed series, you see the animal filling the entire frame. There is deep harmony as well as joy in the way she creates tigers of conviction blending in space and atmosphere. As an endangered species, she draws attention to what man has done to nature. Globalisation is not exclusive to modern society but is a long-standing tradition. She points, unconsciously, to the truth that a tiger is a cultural and intellectually natural asset. The seven paintings embody diverse traits from different Eastern cultures and tell us that tigers are a valuable heritage of our biodiversity. They evoke the beauty, possibilities of inclusion and diversity, about which we selfish people sometimes forget.
William Blake’s Tiger
She recalls William Blake’s poem Tiger in which he leaves us in awe at the complexity of the creation and the sheer magnitude of God’s power. The perspective in Blake’s poem involves a sophisticated acknowledgment of what is unexplainable in the universe, presenting evil as the prime example of something that cannot be denied but will not withstand facile explanation either. The open awe of the tiger brings us to the importance of faith in a benevolent universe.
Zimbiri’s tigers reveal the historical progression of cultural interaction and exchange; they function as evidence of the ways in which indigenous cultures incorporate foreign elements, out of which arise new and innovative forms alongside existing traditions. Above all the treatment and technique, the ethereal and ephemeral elements tell us that in art there are infinite ways of seeing and creating.
(Delhi Contemporary Art Week runs till September 7.)
Writer: Uma Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer
It is an exhibition that is (in)complete and composed of ideas that work in isolation. Yet, the pieces manage to lead to a conversation between the artist and the viewer, says SHALINI SAKSENA
There is an adage— beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. This saying can’t be more apt when applied to art. To each his own is what works here. What may appear to be dull and dark and not worth even looking at, can be a piece of art worth lakhs. Hence, it has been seen that the young artists are. It just experimenting with the medium but the concept of what art is all about. It is no longer restricted to canvas, wood or clay. Today, artists display a concept and sell that to the audience who understands what the creator wants to show.
The work on display at Dharti Arts Residency Open Studio by Serendipity Arts Foundation in the Capital by artists Khursheed Ahmad, Dharmendra Prasad and Farah Mulla are a case in point. In fact, 26-year-old Ahmad’s work is more about what he wants to say through his work rather than the art itself. He tells you that his work is a reflection of what is happening in the Valley.
“A piece that I have created — a shrine made from wood with windows — with a video where I am banging the wall with my hands wearing shoes is symbolic. A shrine is a place of peace and a place of worship. People go there to soak in the peaceful ambience. But then there is this violent banging, a noise, that is disturbing the tranquility in the shrine. One can draw a similar here with what is happening in Kashmir. It is such a beautiful place, yet there is violence everywhere,” Ahmad explains who belongs to a performing art community from Budgam.
He tells you that as a child he used to accompany his family to performance at a various events. “We belong to the bhand community. Our performing style involves a traditional folk theatre of play and dance. So I was inclined towards art. After finishing my schooling from a Government school, I joined an art college in Srinagar. It was here that I learnt how to fine tune my body art performance. I was introduced to painting and photography. I learnt how one could use different strokes to tell the audience what we want to convey. The idea is not to sell my work but to introduce people to different aspects of art. That doesn’t mean that I turn down work when it comes to me. Sometimes people like the photographs that I have taken and want me to paint that on a canvas, other times, they want a big poster size of the photograph; it all depends,” Ahmad tells you.
Dharmendra Prasad, who is from Guwahati tells you that his art is what a farmer would perceive as art. “The piece that I have created is what my life has been. I was born in Bihar and lived there for 10 years and then moved to Guwahati. I did my schooling there and pursued painting from an art college. I then moved to Hyderabad but went back to Guwahati and visited many villages. It was living in an urban city and then in a rural area. This got me thinking how I could use this into my art. I wanted to use the knowledge that I had gathered and my interest in ecology led to me create a work that showcased that aspect. I am working with farmers and artisans in different seasons. When I came to Delhi, that got me thinking what I could create to show my background. I wanted to treat the space I was given as a field. The piece shows the agrarian side of India using hydraulics, irrigation technology and different kind of agricultural byproducts and mixing this with my creative side,” the 32-year-old says who agrees that a piece like this is not what people would be wiling to buy.
“The idea is not to sell art in the form that we are used to. My idea is to tell people that art is not just a western concept and for people who wear suits. Art is for everyone, even a farmer. Nobody is going to buy a running water system or crop residue. But that doesn’t mean that it has no value, it does for the people from rural India. But just like a video can be sold, my work can also find buyers— not in it’s entirety but at least in part,” Prasad says who passed out of an art college in Hyderabad and since then he has been trying to create a space for his kind of work.
“I am based out of Guwahati where there are no takers for my work. So I make do by painting portraits. The path that I have chosen is tough but I want to reposition myself. Life is not just about making money. Art is everywhere. I want to be in a place where I can bring all the knowledge that I have gained and put it on a single platform. For me art is not just a painting on canvas. Art is not restricted to any genre or medium,” Prasad explains.
Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation & Festival tells you that as an arts foundation, they are pleased to be able to provide a platform for artists and to be part of the process of creation while they explore their individual artistic practices and grow their network within the arts community.
Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder Patron, Serendipity Arts Foundation: “The Dharti Arts Residency allows artists to create and collaborate with peers, and to connect with the artist community at large. 2019 marks our third edition, and we are proud to be able to support four artists again this year during the early stages of their creation by offering them inspiration, space and time to focus solely on enriching their practice and building their arts network.”
Farah Mulla, a sound artist and a curator, tells you that the her research is all about sound and it’s effects on humans; how acoustic soundscape helps us to navigate the social and public place and how it influences us. “Sound does not have material quality yet it speaks of materiality of objects.
That got me interested. I work with cross model sensory perception where one sense can enhance the experience other. I wanted to have these little transfusions between different mediums and started building different insulations that are on display like there is a piece that has been created to make sound by touch,” Mulla says and adds that art is a sensory perception that engages your senses and makes you interact.
“I am interacting in a different medium. My medium is sound and I find it interesting because it is immaterial, it is reproducible, at the same time recording is not a reproduction. The morality of the medium interests me,” Mulla says who travels constantly for work.
“There was a time when there were not many takers in India. There was a time when most of my work was outside of the country. The good thing is that things are changing here. My work has taken me to Baroda or deep into the Himalayan mountains,” Mulla says.
Writer: Shalini Saksena
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Ruma Devi beat several trained experts to bag an award for her designs. But that is only the surface of her amazing story, says Saimi Sattar
A pallu stays firmly fixed on her head. The hands are unwaxed, nails clipped short and painted red. Ruma Devi is different from the immaculately turned out designers that we often see on the ramp and Instagram photographs. But maybe it is this or perhaps that fact that she effortlessly won the Textile Fairs India Fashion Awards even while competing with 13 trained designers, which makes her stand apart.
To put things into perspective, the jury members included heavyweights like fashion guru Prasad Bidapa, designer Rakesh Thakore (Abraham and Thakore), chief advisor Rajasthan Heritage Week and publisher Seminar Magazine, Malvika Singh, supermodel and choreographer, Nayanika Chatterjee, designer Payal Jain and head, creative studio, Royal Enfield, Sarat Som.
While many might feel that this is one among the many awards that are handed out often by the fashion industry and nothing exceptional, one has to delve a little into Ruma’s journey to understand what makes it so path-breaking. Her life story is almost a throwback to the film, Sui Dhaaga. She hails from Barmer district of Rajasthan and has made it on the dint of her unflinching resolve to “do something” to alleviate her conditions. “There is hardly any rain in the area so there is no water to drink and no roads. Agriculture is not enough for sustenance and women just sit at home and do applique work and embroidery,” she says, with a slight lilt that is ubiquitous with the residents of the Western state.
As we sit down to chat in the temporary lounge that has been designed in hall number 10 of Pragati Maidan, she receives incessant phone calls congratulating her for the achievement. A gentleman, who is from her district and has set up a stall at the fair, is quick to snap a selfie with her. “Bhabhiji has done so well. I will put this on Facebook and Instagram,” he proclaims as he saunters off.
Ruma takes up her story from where she had left it and tells us that when she got married, her financial condition was not sound. The lack of education meant that not too many avenues were open to her. “I decided to make use of my talent. So 10 women got together and we made bags with embroidery and sold them. After a few months, we collected Rs 100 and bought a second-hand sewing machine in 2008,” she says. And things started turning around. ungry for more work, Ruma approached an organisation, Gramin Vikas Chetna Sansthan, of which she is now the President. “The secretary gave us some stitching and embroidery work, which we finished on time and this set the ball rolling for future contracts,” she says as her voice takes on an element of child-like excitement. There is no trace of artifice and her voice rises and falls depending upon what she is talking about.
Having successfully fulfilled the order, Ruma decided to add more women. “I had started working as I was facing financial problems but there were a lot of other women who were worse off and couldn’t even afford a square meal in a day,” she says as she brushes back her pallu. By 2010, the 10 women had swelled to 5,000 and Ruma started marketing for them. “The same year there was a fair in Delhi, which we decided to participate in. At this time I discovered that there were more than a lakh artisans in Barmer who do applique and embroidery but no one knew about them,” she says.
But the going was not easy. In Rajasthan, where patriarchy rules, women are veiled and stepping out of the house to work is a strict no-no especially in the rural areas. “Often men were drunkards and wouldn’t care about how the family survived. Women worked at home and in such a scenario even if they got Rs 100, that was a lot. I walked from one house to the other as there were no roads. I had to practically force my way inside and then men often told me that I would teach their wives things that went against our culture. Even when my family didn’t say anything, my neighbours taunted me. But it is these people who now stand with us. Earlier, it was difficult to get even one woman to accompany me to Delhi, now 10 are willing to when I need just one,” she says.
But then as often happens, a push is all she needed. “My father-in-law supported me as he realised that if everyone is sitting at home, how would one eat?” she says.
The women started out with making cushion covers and bedsheets but soon market forces demanded that they up their game. “People buy one bedsheet or two but clothes have a greater demand. So we started making garments and doing fashion shows. Initially, we made kurtis and saris in cotton. Then we graduated to silks and now we make them on velvet as well,” she says. Ruma is excited about the different types of material that are available at the fair and wants to expand her repertoire further.
“We have a network of 22,000 women now, organised into several informal groups in the area. They are directly linked to the market for orders. Every group has orders worth about Rs 1-2 crore,” she says. However, it was not the larger picture that she looked at in the beginning. “This journey makes me so happy. When I had started, I had never thought that we would be able to do such good work. Apan ki roti ke jugaad ke liye kiya tha. Lekin aaj itni mahilaon ki prerna ban chuke hain (I started doing this for my own livelihood but now I’ve become an inspiration for others),” she says as the Rajasthani lilt again comes to the fore as she feels overwhelmed and happy with what she has achieved. But even in the midst of all the excitement, she has not forgotten the people who powered the victory. She says, “I sent a photograph to the artisans and told them that we have won the first prize. They are very happy and everyone is calling up,” which explains the barrage of calls that she receives within the 15 minutes we sit together.
Prasad Bidappa, with whom she had been in touch earlier, encouraged her to take part in this competition for a reason. He says, “I respect her integrity and her commitment to the thousands of rural women whom she encourages and empowers. She makes sure they earn money in their own right and are not dependent on their menfolk. She has created an amazing business. If we followed her example, we could transform rural India.”
The collection that she has put together is done entirely in black and white with hints of maroon. “Most designers want to use a wide variety of colours so we decided to stick with these two only,” says Ruma, pointing to 12 garments out of which eight were put out on the ramp and won her the prize. “These took about 1.5-2 months to make,” she adds.
Talking about the collection Bidapa says, “Her appliqué collection was classic and beautiful. She stuck to classic silhouettes and styles like the ghagra, the choli, the kurta and the sari. It was a clean, well-executed collection.” He goes on to point out that, “All the members of the jury agreed that she had made very good use of the fabric and her positive/negative appliqué work looked very sophisticated and stylish. The fabric usage was extremely important here and Ruma Devi was working with machine-made fabric for the first time.”
Ruma says that she also makes kurta, salwar, palazzo, dupatta, lehenga and Western wear. “Initially I had no understanding of the larger market and catered only to the local one,” she says.
Her exposure has now been placed on an elevator which will give her a bird’s eye view of the fashion market as the prize also entails a visit to the fashion capital, Paris. So while most people might talk about the wines, the cafes or even the various monuments of interest in the city, Ruma is focussed, “I will get to learn more as to what is happening in the fashion world outside and we will make our products accordingly.”
As often happens with working women, it is family that she falls back on to look after her child while she is flying high. “I stay in a joint family and my in-laws look after my seven-year-old son. Despite his age, he keeps on telling me to go and bag another award,” she says with a happy laugh, her voice taking on that sing-song lilt yet again.
Writer: Saimi Sattar
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Bashar Tabbah’s book, A Map & A Lens: Jordan Sights Unseen and Stories Untold, through photographs and texts, tracks the unfolding of the entirety of Jordan’s history
One can divide writings about countries into three broad categories — academic or journalistic narratives about their politics, economics, international relations, history and future; literary travelogues — such as Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons about Cyprus — describing one’s encounter with a country’s life, people, landscapes, cities and villages; and coffee table publications with engaging photographs of places of tourist interest, including historical sites and information about how to visit these, their significance and past.
Bashar Tabbah’s book, A Map & A Lens: Jordan Sights Unseen and Stories Untold (Jabal Amman Publishing), is a significant addition to the third category. It is perhaps the only one of its kind that covers all important sites of tourist attraction in Jordan, which has a long history with evidence of human habitation as early as the Paleolithic Age. Bashar has arranged his photographs and text (the latter co-written with Jane Taylor) according to the various periods that have followed one another chronologically, beginning with the earliest Paleolithic, Bronze and Iron Age sites like Bayda, where the first settlements date back to 8,300 BC and Ayn Ghazal, founded around the same time and remarkable for its lifelike human statues.
Next comes the Nabataean period with the famous remains of Petra. The Romans and Byzantines, who followed, have left their imprimatur in cities like Jerash, Umm Qais and Umm al-Jimal and the exquisite mosaics in Madaba and Umm ar-Rasas, a complex of 16 churches that have been declared by UNESCO has a World Heritage Site. The sites of early centuries of Islam depicted include Qusayr Amra and Qasa al-Hallabat. Monuments of the crusaders, Ayyubids and Mamluks, which feature in the book, include the Karak, Shobak and Ajlun castles. The Ottomans, who ruled for several centuries, have left behind numerous buildings and forts like the Hasa Hajji Fort.
The photographs and texts in the volume track the unfolding of the entirety of Jordan’s history, including what is described as the Abrahamic Sites, which include Bethany, the place, a little north of the Dead Sea, where Jesus was baptized and the tombs of a number of prophets mentioned in the Old Testament. Jordan and the region around have been witness to multiple events connected with the emergence of Christianity and Islam, particularly the former. It has seen the rise and fall of empires and kingdoms and the marches of massive armies and battles, including those that Prophet Mohammad and his associates fought.
It is by no means easy to chronicle such an eventful journey in time and its architectural legacy in photographs and texts. Photographing historical sites poses its own special problems in the sense that it is not just a matter of pressing the shutter. Each building looks different under different light conditions — during day and night, dawn and dusk, on sunny and cloudy days. What lends it its identity is its structure, its constant feature. What makes the identity of a historical monument different from those of other structures is its aura arising from its being a witness to time, with its flows of people and events, bearing the silent imprint of the eras when life surged around it. A subtle, invisible emanation of the accumulated vibrations of the past, a monument’s aura glides into the consciousness of those with a sense of history, a proneness to wonder how life might have been in the remote past and the ability to imagine living in its midst. Not many fill the bill.
Even among those who do, the aura’s awareness comes in special moments when solitude enables the absorption of signals from the past, which are not overwhelmed by those from the present when multitudes swirl around, particularly chattering, shouting, selfie-clicking tourists, disgorging from buses and shepherded around by guides.
To be a true reflection of a historical monument’s transcendental persona and not just calendar art, a photograph needs not only to capture its aura but, like the monument itself, make one wonder about quotidian experiences and events centuries or millennia in the past. To achieve this, a photographer needs to know a monument’s history, and sense the imprimatur of its past on its present, stand before it in silence, with the vents of beyond-sensory perception open for times bygone to flow in. For this he/she needs to be relatively alone with the monument, which in turn demands presence in early or late hours when few are around, and repeated visits if the magic moment proves elusive. In a country like Jordan, with its many and widely separated historical sites, it means thousands of kilometres of travel.
All this requires perseverance and deep commitment manifested in sustained hard work. If his photographs are any criterion, Bashar Tabbah shows both in amplitude. These are not just of monuments but of the spaces in which these are located and the skies above, particularly at night when millions of stars sparkle and wink. A bonus is his photograph of the Dead Sea on a January evening.
There are many publications with stunning photographs of monuments and human settlements, and many with informed histories. But not many that combine both. More, one is caught in its web once one opens it. Simply put, it is unputdownable. India could do with a book like this on its rich and widely dispersed legacy of historical sites.
(The writer is Consultant Editor, The Pioneer, and an author)
Writer: Hiranmay Karlekar
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Issues such as mounting disease burden, the need to boost preventive healthcare and improving access to affordable and quality care were completely missed out by Modi 2.0, despite it getting a huge mandate. This is highly discouraging
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art presents Submergence: In the midst of here and there. The exhibition of Arpita Singh offers an opportunity to view six decades of her art practice. It focusses on her long commitment to painting and its evolution into a personal expressive language. When: Till July 14 Time: 10.30 am to 6.30 pm Where: KNMA, Saket.
Allure Art presents Tres Maestros by three artists Niren Sen Gupta, Niladri Paul and Nupur Kundu. It sports a collective of fresh canvases that dazzle with the brilliance of colour applications, triggering liberating moods and definable strokes. When: July 22 to 26 Time: 11 am to 8 pm Where: Artizen Art Gallery, Pearey Lal Bhawan.
Rupa Publications India presents the book launch of Visible Muslim, Invisible Citizen by Salman Khurshid. It will be followed by a panel discussion among Asaduddin Owaisi, Seema Chishti, Subramaniam Swami, professor Apurvanand and the author. when: July 12 TIME: 6.30 pm Where: Grand Ballroom, The Leela Palace.
The Piano Man brings a soulful experience of jazz. It is led by one of the top jazz singers in India.
The band featuring Paddy on piano, Bihu on drums and Aditya on bass brings to the listener an evening of swing jazz, post bop jazz. WHEN: July 12 Time: 9 pm to 11.55 pm Where: The Piano Man jazz club, Safdarjung Enclave.
ACT Arcus en Ciel Theatre presents Ashadh Ka Ek Din by Mohan Rakesh. The play received a Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for best play in 1959. When: July 21 Time: 7 pm Where: Akshara Theatre.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer
When one is in complete connection with the inner self, one is able to fill the void in his heart and realise the true meaning of god, says Manoranjan Bhattacharya
The highest and ideal goal of the human life is the realisation of god, the one who is ever-existent, ever-conscious and ever-blissful. The primary requirements for this could be purification of the mind and its orientation inwards. Worshipping god, in any form, as cherished by an individual, is a standard and common process, which serves this purpose and finally enables the aspirant to realise the ultimate reality of life.
Worshipping processes in the Hindu mythology consist of a series of steps and each step is spiritually significant in advancing the purpose of purifying the mind and making it turn inwards, which finally result in the attainment of supreme spiritual enlightenment of the aspirant.
From the Puranas, we find that when the gods and the demons churned the ‘Kshirode’ sea nectar, which immortalises one who drinks it, had evolved from the deep sea. The gods were in search of a fitting vessel which could hold this immortalising Amrit. Lord Biswakarma, the chief engineer of the gods, was called and urged for an immediate solution of the problem. He thought seriously over the matter and then built an extremely powerful pot by taking a part of energy from each god. This sacred powerful container was given the name Kalasa, as it was built by taking Kala or part, energy from the gods. This is, possibly, some feasible background for the pitcher (ghat) to be considered as a sacred vessel. Generally, a pitcher is made of earth. In many cases, however, it is also made of metals such as brass, copper, etc.
The gods and goddesses are first welcomed to take their places inside the sacred powerful pitcher. When an idol is made to worship the designated god, the question arises — why should a pitcher be installed to welcome the deity? It is required because only the designated god can be welcomed as the idol.
From the spiritual point of view, the pitcher represents the cavity of our heart which is believed to be the abode of gods and goddesses. It is also believed that consciousness originates from deep inside our hearts. When the sacred mantras or hymns are being chanted with great devotion to welcome the gods, they respond to the mantras by welcoming them.
For the installation of the sacred pitcher inside the heart, many items such as water, fruits, generally a green coconut, stems and leaves of sacred trees, mainly mango tree, etc., and some other items are required.
When the worshiper chants the hymns, embracing the depth of his heart and completely realises the meaning of their lyrics, a kind of heavenly emotion is developed in him/her. And the water in the pitcher represents this heavenly emotion. In this celestial zone, the worshipper might feel that the gods have taken cherished forms.
Usually, a fruit is placed at the top of the pitcher, which symbolises knowledge and wisdom. When a truth seeker unravels the mystery in his matter of search and gets to the bottom of the truth, s/he experiences ethereal emotions of joy. Spiritually, when, through knowledge, wisdom and true devotion, the worshipper reveals herself/himself to the god, celestial emotions develop in the worshipper. Only then is the worshipper regarded ideal or fit to worship. Head is the centre of all knowledge. Generally, a green coconut, with a part of the stem attached to it, is the fruit which is placed on the top of the pitcher. It has the shape of the head and the stem attached as if representing the flame of knowledge (Shiksha).
Fresh leaves with stems of five different sacred trees are placed on the mouth of the pitcher. These are symbolic of the five organs of action — the organ of speech, hands, feet, evacuation and procreation. In the water, five different gems are placed, which symbolise the five organs of perception — ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose. Also, below the pitcher, five different grains are placed which are symbolic of the five subtle elements (Panchatanmatra) — akash (the vast space), vaayu (air), tejas (fire), op (water) and prithvi (earth) in their rudimentary, uncompounded state. The subtle body (Sookshm sharir) of a man is composed of these five subtle elements. The subtle body covers the source of consciousness or soul (Atma), which, as per the Hindu Vedanta philosophy, lies deep inside the heart. According to the Vedanta philosophy, when a man dies, his soul exits the body.
When the hymns associated with Ghatasthapan are chanted with complete concentration, where one fully realises the meaning of her/his existence, the worshipper experiences the appearance of the gods.
Thus, for true worship, the worshipper must be in a state of complete awareness of his subtle body. With this serenity in the background and a sense of peace with the inner self, when the worshipper offers flowers and other offerings to the gods in the pitcher, he feels, as if, he is placing those in the void of his own heart, which is believed to be the abode of all gods and goddesses. This is what we call worshipping the god in the ideal sense.
(This article is based on the book Poojatattava by Brahmarshi Shree Shree Satyadev.)
Writer: Manoranjan Bhattacharya
Courtesy: The Pioneer