Craft expo shines light on disabled and women artisans in Puducherry

True to its motto of ‘vocal for local’, the exhibition ensures economic empowerment of indigenous artisans and craftspersons.

Published: 22nd February 2022 10:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd February 2022 11:52 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

PUDUCHERRY: Powering past the losses of Covid-19, underprivileged women and the disabled are now rebuilding their lives through the Hunar Haat (HH), an initiative of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. True to its motto of ‘vocal for local’, the exhibition ensures economic empowerment of indigenous artisans and craftspersons.

Disabilities and Covid-19 have posed hurdles in the life of Puducherry-based couple, Radhika and Iyappan E. But along with 13 other such persons with disabilities of hearing, speech and sigh, they are able to earn decent income through the HH. Since its inception in 2016, the exhibition has changed the lives of artisans.

 “We have formed a rehabilitation association 'Árumai Maruvalvu Organisation’ and have been participating in HHs across the country, selling handicraft items. We are getting a good income which we share," said Iyappan and his wife who have a 100 per cent disability. In Puducherry, they sell a variety of seafood dishes. “Seafood is available in abundance here and people like it, " said Iyappan. However, the variation in rates is disliked but we cannot help it as the price of prawns, crabs etc keep on changing, he added.

With this exhibition, Regina Mary, a 36-year-old married woman with three children from Thattanchavady, contributes in a big way to the family income. “Covid-19 left us in a precarious  financial situation, the HH has brought our life on track, once again," says Regina Mary who earlier participated in two HHs in Delhi and Rampur in UP. She sells synthetic jewellery, sandalwood, and incense sticks and says she is able to make more sales at the HH as compared to local stalls or other exhibitions.

“Most of my produce was sold in the last two HHs and fetched me a good income,” Regina Mary said, after receiving training at District Industries Centre (DIC). “It is helping in my children's education," she said. Mary has studied only upto Class 8 and often faces language barrier when she travels to other States but has received support from the HH officials in filling forms, reading letters, accommodation, travel, booking return tickets and the like. “ Also, the interaction with other artisans helped me add value to my products," said Mary, profusely thanking PM Modi.

The HH has also changed the lives of a sister-in-law duo from the remote village of Patralu in Jharkhand. Ahalya Devi and Sangeeta Devi who excel in bamboo crafts help support their family by selling their products at the local weekly market. “We used to earn around Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 a week. But during the first HH in Dehradun, we ran out of products and had to make them again . We earned Rs 60,000  and subsequently went on to earn Rs 4 lakh in the Surat HH," explained Ahalyia. With these stellar sales, the family has been able to construct a house. "Besides with the awareness of visiting places, we are no longer the frog in the well, but we have become confident in handling our lives," added Ahalya

Seeta Thapa's story has a similar plot. Thapa, from Lucknow, sells foods used to live in a rented house. She now lives in a two-room house she has built with all her earnings. “I had a small land but I did not have sufficient income to build a house. She credits HH for this win.

 The ongoing HH at Puducherry Old Port has 300 stalls for handicrafts and food items from 30 States and UTs. Around 40 percent of the stalls are led by women.  Opportunities are provided to artisans on a rotation basis, so all participants get a chance, said an organiser. HH’s mission is to give women respect and to enrich them economically, he added.

HHs are a confluence of cultural activities along with the crafts and food, which draws crowds.  Music , dance, circus  and magic shows are conducted daily. Renowned artists like Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Sairam Iyer among others have performed at Puducherry.



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