The HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is as much about experiencing the arts as it is about playing patron to them. Across the heritage art district, a range of stalls sell everything from costume jewellery to musical instruments, T-shirts and knick-knacks for the home, crafted by India’s gifted yet oft-forgotten artisans.
“As the festival has grown bigger, we have received more and more applications each year,” said stalls section curator Vidula Warawdekar. “This year we got a total of 1,400 applicants, a rich group of gifted, eclectic folk artists from across the country. From that group, we selected 46 to showcase their work here. The most important things we look for in collections are eco-friendliness and contemporary utility value, with a focus on traditional Indian art styles.”
So you have intricately hand-embroidered footwear from Hisar in Haryana, wall hangings made from dry leaves and cloth waste in Ahmedabad, and wind chimes and lamps made from dried bottle gourd in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh.
In addition to the classical, you have the contemporary, with independent design labels offering their wares too. And since no artist is allocated a stall more than twice, freshness and variety are guaranteed — and also guaranteed is a platform for relative newcomers.
“I try and buy as much as I can from small-town entrepreneurs. Their craftsmanship is superior and their designs are stunning and unique,” said banking executive and Thane resident Anita Sathe, 33, clutching a bag full of brightly coloured, embroidered jootis from the Dhalia Jooti stall.
At Chakli, which sells home décor items made by underprivileged children in Ahmedabad, you can get fairy lights made using coir.
“This pink and purple string of lights will be perfect for my balcony. I still can’t believe it was made by kids,” said Jharna Keki, 46, a dentist from Prabhadevi.
Also up for grabs are handmade doodle-covered notebooks by The Doodle Factory, Pune; paintings made with marble dust, by Shreerang Arts from Delhi; and fridge magnets, keychains, scarves and mugs featuring Indian motifs and monuments, by FroggMag, Delhi.
First-timer Deepak Devangan from Bastar is drawing crowds with his collection of tribal handicraft wares such as musical instruments, wind chimes and lamps made from bottle gourd and bamboo. “I just bought this instrument called the rainmaker. It has urad dal inside a hollowed-out bamboo. My college bandmates are going to be so amazed,” said Neil Kelkar, 19, a college student from Borivli.
“Achhe se bajaana, taaliyon ki baarish ho jayegi (Play it well and there will be showers of applause),” said Devangan, smiling proudly.