BANGALORE: Bamboo ware is an Indian art as well as a tradition that has thrived and continued from generation to generation and the variety and artistry of bamboo ware at K R Road near Basavangudi is proof of that proud lineage. However, the bamboo creators are literally on the roads today, unable to find a market for their products, faced by severe competition from plastic ware.
One can see hundreds of families working on this long busy stretch as the day breaks. Most of these families are from Mysore and have settled down here, carrying on their creative work.
They work on creating different kinds of bamboo art, ranging from a variety of baskets for storing sweets to marriage baskets. Apart from that, they also make mats, mora and other decorative accessories for domestic purposes.
Life is not so easy for these people. They suffer from various problem like spiralling prices, lack of ration cards, marketing their products and finding customers.
They source their raw materials, which is the finest Pannangi bamboo from Assam, with each bamboo cane costing them Rs 150. Every day, an individual can make a maximum of five baskets and two to three mankri. Hence, their every day earning would be around Rs 500-600. Out of this, they have to figure out their day to day expenses also.
Speaking to City Express, one bamboo maker, Basavraj said, “There is no longer a market for our hand made products as plastic is ruining us ;what with the city people and the educated preferring plastic products more than bamboo products.”
Although these people have been residing in the heart of the city for decades now, they remain deprived of even the bare minimum facilities. No family possess a ration card. Even the shop vendors to whom they sell their ware, delay their payments for months together, putting them in big trouble as they then fall into the clutches of the local money lenders. Even the ongoing Metro work on this stretch has adversely affected their work and they seem to be losing out on their livelihood too. Many politicians of various parties have come and gone and promised to look into their problems but done nothing to address their problems. These people have now lost their hopes and have learnt to lead a life, full of hardships. However, it is the festival season that brings them joy as this is the time when their business peaks especially during the Gowri festival.
“We hardly earn any profits, we are into this business for four generations, I am doing this work since my childhood, and this will be passed on to my children,” says a 35-year-old woman. Most of these people stick to their traditional work because they don’t know any other skills.
Despite their hand to mouth existence, they keep a cheerful face, eagerly looking forward to the pooja season for a surge in their sales to earn a decent livelihood.