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Heart knows no boundaries

Will the Indo-Pak bonhomie - at the Dostkari fest in Delhi and the cricket audience in Pak - translate into lasting peace, writes Vijaya Sharma.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2004 20:46 IST

Crafts bazaar

Dilli Haat is the flavour of the capital Delhi and the UK, too. While the colourful and vibrant bazaar, which brings various handicrafts of India on one platform and is a huge draw with tourists, celebrates its tenth birthday, the Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green, London is holding a toy show, Khel which showcases toys from Dilli Haat.

Multi-coloured kites, ornate puppets and recycled rag dolls are among many other exhibits being displayed at Bethnal Green till April 18. The toys were bought direct from the makers at the Dilli Haat Craft Bazaar in New Delhi. The exhibition is supported by Shisha, an international agency "raising the profile of contemporary South Asian crafts and visual arts."

Dilli Haat celebrates its 10th birthday

The Haat is a shopper's delight and a must visit for all those who love handicrafts. There rarely must be a person who will not fall in love with the exquisite Indian weaves on display - from Kashmiri

phirans

and Lucknowi

chikan

, to

Mekhlas

and raw silk clothes from the North-East - all laid out invitingly in neat brick shops for each state. The variety is simply endless - innovative jute bags, silver and glass bead trinkets in bright colous, exquisite pink and black Hyderabadi pearls - both treated and natural, round and rice-grain shaped, Gujarati

torans

,

dupattas

of various patterns and hues - embroidered and dyed - from all over India - simply amazing and enticing to have the whole of India at one place while the aroma of momos, and

macher jhol (

fish curry

)

waft out of the food joints set up by different states. Truly a window to India's rich tradition of art and craft.



Dilli Haat was set up by Delhi Tourism and NDMC to provide a platform to highly skilled rural artisan and enable them to sell their goods directly to the public without having their profits eaten up by middlemen.

India-Pak: Rishtey nahin toota karte...
The bonhomie between India and Pakistan, on the cricket field or at the Pakistani crafts festival in India, Dostkari, these days is reminiscent of the poet Gulzar's lines: Haath chchooten bhi to rishtey nahin toota karte.

The same warmth on faces at the festival, just a different accent. The same reactions have been returned by Indians visiting Pakistan to be a part of the historic Indo-Pak cricket clash. They say that the openness with which Pakistanis have cheered India's win on the cricket field was not a response they had imagined or anticipated. They expected diffidence, hostility not firecrackers and cheers when Indians were busy slamming home favourites Shoaib and Sami.

Dilli Haat is playing host to Indo-Pak friendship with the festival called Dostkari, on till March 31. Artisans and craftsmen from all over Pakistan have come here to display their wares and showcase their skills. They also hold special workshops where people can see and learn how they make their craft.

One got to see the rich tila-work (golden thread work) on Khussa foot wear from Peshawar. The art has its origin in another craft called Okai Sazi. Khan Chand at the stall said he was doing brisk business here and has also sold his ware in London and Dubai.

An admiring couple just could not take their eyes off the intricate tila-work on the off-white jooti which cost Rs 600. The young lady was seen persuading her husband to buy a pair of those and he wistfully said: "I have been married long. How can I wear those now?" but yet, stopped to ask the seller from Peshawar whether he could get heels put on them.

Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner to India Munawwar Syed (center) visiting a stall displaying camel skin lampshades at Dostkari.

Then there were those lampshades made from camel-skin and stretched over moulds which when dry were removed from the moulds and painted with in bright colours with flower patterns dominating - red and blue and brown, wax paintings which have travelled via the Silk Route to Kabul and Peshawar, Balochi and Multani embroidery, finer than embroidery found in India and Ajrak block prints in which the colours were made from dried pomegranate and

tesu ke phool

among other natural ingredients.



Pakistan has sent 10 craftspersons which also comprises two women - Nahir Hashmi and Syed Mahboob Shah for Multani embroidery, Amir Baksh for block printing and vegetable dye, Sikander Ali for Ajrak printing, Mohd Abdullah for camel skin, Riyaz Ahmed for wax printing, Malookan Bibi for Baluchi embroidery, Abdul Majid for Baluchi leather embroidery, Dost Mohd Khan for wood work and calligraphy.

The Indian side has Tejiben Makhwana from Ahmedabad in Gujarat for applique embriodery, Sandur from Bellary district in Karnataka for Lambani embroidery, Parakh Mal from Rajasthan for leather embroidery and jootis, Brij Wallabh Udaiwal from Rajasthan for vegetable dye block printing and wax printing, Ismail Mohammed Khatri from Gujarat for Ajrak printing, Faraz Akeel from UP for block maker, Nazeer Ahmed Mir from Jammu and Kashmir for Kashmiri papier mache, and Jawaja Leather Association from Rajasthan.

The artists also sat down for a joint workshop where each competed to produce a piece of work better than the other. The idea, behind it, said Jaya Jaitly, president of the Dastkari Haat Samiti is exchange of ideas and skills.

The Dastkari Samiti coordinated with the Pakistan Crafts Council, the Pakistan Culture ministry and the Pakistani organisation Lok Virsa to make Dostkari possible.

The wares on display and the designs are but so similar in flavour and style to Indian crafts that one cannot see a huge difference. Nakkashi for instance is displayed from both the Indian and Pakistani side - the Indians have done it on papier machie, the Pakistanis on camel skin. It almost feels like interacting with Indian craftsmen when one talks to them.

Will this warmth translate into lasting peace on the border and between the political dispensation on both sides? The thought is bewitching. No more children who wake up one morning to find that they have no one to call a father, no fathers to mourn the loss of a son, no youth who are lured by mercenary militants in hope of a better future. One hopes and hopes fervently that peace will prevail...

Kya bolta tu!
The politicos may think that tinsel power will bring them votes but the Indian masses are not to be fooled. Overheard in a bus: "Dharmendra ne bhi BJP join kar liya! Yaar, ye to ab Bollywood Janata Party ban gayi hai."

First Published: Mar 29, 2004 19:51 IST