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Uttarakhand organisation and Samarpann helps local women artists sustain traditional practice of moonj grass basketry

The situation of COVID19 has imposed enormous challenges and threats on the survival of many. Right from economical to other issues, many around the globe are facing hardships. Due to the pandemic many have lost daily sources of income and are now jobless. In Udham Singh Nagar village of Uttarakhand, women lost their source of income due to COVID19.

Recently The Optimist News spoke to some people and organizations that have helped to bring smiles during the festival of lights Diwali by lighting up the lives of those who lost jobs during the nationwide lockdown.

Women engaged with this profession have been practicing it since generations

60-65 years old Women of Udham Singh Nagar are experts in making moonj-grass baskets which are rarely made or found anywhere else. The baskets are made from moonj grass available near river banks. The women cut the grasses, tie them up together and weave them finely. Later they would also paint them using bright hues to make them look pretty and attractive for customers.

Women making baskets out of moonj grass

“We have been making moonj-grass baskets for generations and it has become a tradition for us. It takes around three days to make one basket.  There are many communities in our villages that make these baskets and are involved in this professionally. Some of them get trained as well before foraying into this profession. Also, throughout the pandemic, we created a WhatsApp group through which we tracked our products and kept ourselves abreast with other updates. During these trying times, the organization named Samarpann and it’s social enterprise “From the Countryside “helped us considerably in marketing our products and most of us have successfully sold products worth around INR 3000,” says Sikcha , a member of JeevanJyoti Cluster Level Federation, Block Khatima U.S.Nagar (Uttarakhand).

Dr. Megha Bhargava, IRS Officer and Chief Advisor of Samarpann, says, “We knew about the challenges these women are facing since we have already worked in Uttarakhand. We wanted to do something from our end, so that they could spend this Diwali in a nice way. We are aware of the ongoing situation and how companies are resorting to cost cutting strategies. What we did was, we procured the colourful baskets from the women and made them into exciting hampers filled with organic spices. We also collaborated with corporates and institutes who wanted customized and curated boxes as Diwali gifts. Their work got some sturdy visibility as the boxes sold well. We are happy to bring happiness to their lives just in time.”

Baskets filled with organic spices. It’s an initiative taken by Samarpann

Traditional artisans and craftsmen of India, in spite of being incredibly talented, live their life in oblivion, away from limelight and due recognition. Small initiatives like that of Samarpann, can help not only in promoting local indigenous products but also in helping artists sustain the traditions as well.

Moonj Grass baskets

This Diwali, let’s not just make this festival about lights but try to light-up the lives of those less fortunate than us! Let’s spread happiness amidst the darkness.

Image Courtesy : Samarpann

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