The Dilli Haat, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, breaks the barriers between craftsmen, countries and communities.
With heart-warming music from Kutch, a traditional Balinese dance performance and a deep sense of reverence for arts and crafts in the air, the opening ceremony of the 33rd edition of the annual Dastkari Haat Crafts Bazaar at Dilli Haat was a grand display cultural activities. His Excellency Sidharto R. Suryodipuro, Ambassador, Indonesia to India, who inaugurated the event says, "It is a spectacular event and opportunity here for the artisans of a skill exchange program, which is another process of strengthening the ties between India and Indonesia and finding beauty in something that is common."
This year the annual bazaar completes its 25th year which called for grander celebrations, says Ms Jaya Jaitly, President, Dastkari Haat Samiti, "This year we have started the yellow ribbon campaign that helps the spectators identify authentic craftsmen at Dilli Haat who are a part of our bazaar. I am really overwhelmed with the response from the visitors and the design innovation that the artisans have brought forth."
The Dilli Haat was established in 1994 and Jaya has been part of its founding committee. She proposed the idea of setting up a haat that could promote indigenous arts and crafts. After almost six years of constant planning and toiling, she was able to sell her concept of Dilli Haat to the former Prime Minister V.P. Singh.
"Every year we look forward to our annual bazaar, especially in Delhi. This event is all the more special because Dilli Haat completes 25 years!" exclaims Jaya. She continues, "Just like every year it is a place where everyone comes to feel happy. We feel organizing these bazaars somewhere helps in gratifying our aim of breaking the barriers between the craftsmen and community by giving them a platform to showcase their craft."
This year, as part of its 25th-year celebrations, the festival included the classical Balinese dance form Margapati, which talks about the king of the jungle in search of his prey. This dance is mostly performed during festivals and as an offering to Gods in the temple. Besides this, Moorala Marwada and his group, a renowned Sufi folk singer from the Kutch District of Gujarat, entranced everyone with his soulful notes. "He sang iconic compositions of Kabir, Mirabai, Ravidas. Bhawani Kalindi. Another group from Bengal performed the exotic tribal martial Chhau dance throughout the tenure of the bazaar and straight from the banks of the river Ganga, Mushtaq Ahmed, a flute maker from Varanasi played and taught the flute," explains Jaya. The footfall expected this year is between 90,000 to one lakh.
"Through Dilli Hatt we enable the traders from villages to sell their products at self-sustainable prices. In recent years, Delhi tourism has also added 62 stalls that they give to e-traders via e-bidding. The bidding is between one to six lakhs a fortnight. It is the amount that our artisans make in two weeks. We are working towards making Dilli Haat a completely authentic crafts zone again" quotes Jaya.
Annually through this bazaar, the organisers try to bring revive authentic handloom and handmade products with traditional weaves. They have participants from almost all the states of the country displaying their crafts in the form of Vankar Shawls of Gujarat, Handloom fabrics from Bengal, Pashmina's from Kashmir, Banarasi textiles from Uttar Pradesh, Kantha embroidery, Pattachitra paintings, carpets, home décor accessories and organic products in the bazaar. In addition to this, there are Indonesian artists who along with their Indian counterparts are displaying Doyo fibre craft, pottery, tie and dye and batik work. "Since our inception, we have helped over 60,000 artisans by organizing annual crafts bazaar all over India that provides them with the exposure and brings them into direct contact with the urban customer. We are now supporting over 350 crafts groups across the 29 Indian states. There are many exciting collaborations coming up and we will soon be talking about it," assures Jaya.