RANCHI: A group of women toymakers in Jharkhand has taken to traditional art and tapped into the local market. Headed by Shobha Kumari, the women are learning to use sawdust, soil, clothes and other things, which may not reflect the state-specific culture, but are an integral part of India’s traditional toy making.
Shobha Kumari learnt the art of toy making around 12 years back as an avocation during her stay in Rajasthan’s Kota. Her son had joined her too while coaching for engineering entrance tests. “It started as a hobby, but gradually it developed into a passion. I have now employed over 35 women who earn at least Rs 8,000 every month by selling handmade toys,” says Shobha. “The boost for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kept us going.”
She says she does not have to struggle much for the toy market. “We have regular customers, and sell our products by organizing regular exhibitions in various fairs.” “I started it alone, but as I moved on, I saw many other women showing their interest in the work. I trained some of them living in our neighbourhood. Our group now includes more than 35 women who are engaged in making handmade toys,” says Shobha.
The group also gets orders from government and private organizations. Shobha says people going abroad to meet their friends and relatives take these customized handmade toys with them as gifts. Sunita Ekka, who is associated with Shobha’s group, says she is now able to help her family financially.
Another group member Phoolmani Kacchap says she has been working with Shobha for the last eight years. Her task is to stitch clothes for the dolls Ranchi MP Sanjay Seth, who visited Shobha recently, was all praise for her work. “She is the best example of ‘atmanirbhar Bharat’,” says Seth. Shobha has gifted a handmade doll to Prime Minister Modi.