Kolkatans can now buy handicrafts directly from artists bringing their wares from places like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan with the launch Friday of 'Kolkata Haat', similar to the arts and crafts bazaar in New Delhi.
"Nowadays, people are getting more and more inclined towards the mall culture. As a result, our village crafts are suffering. Something had to be done to save these rural artisans as well as use a different way of drawing people to them," Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, member, Mayor-in-Council (parks and gardens), said at the inauguration on Friday evening.
The weekly bazaar, located near New Market in central Kolkata, is a joint initiative of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) along with National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and city-based Simplex Projects Ltd.
"Let aside France and Italy, even our capital has its own 'Dilli Haat' that attracts people and tourists across the world. On one hand, it increases the business of the suffering artisans; at the same time, gives a break to people from monotonous mall-hopping," Khan said.
Over 200 artisans and performers from across the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are participating in the 'Kolkata Haat'.
The major attractions of the 'Haat' are cane and bamboo works of Jalpaiguri and Assam, bellmetal articles of Chhattisgarh, clayworks of Bankura, and the Patachitra paintings from Orissa.
People can also enjoy folk performances from various parts of the country like Chhau dance from Purulia, Kalbeliya of Rajasthan and Bihu of Assam.
And after some leisurely shopping, one can savour the flavours of India at several food stalls.
The 'Haat' will run Friday-Monday every week for the next five weeks.
"We have given Rs.600,000 to two NGOs to bring the artisans and folk artists from remote parts of the country. If this initiative is successful, then we want to make it a permanent one in the city," Raghav Mundhra, director of Simplex Projects Ltd, told IANS after the inauguration.