Weaving together the historical and sartorial significance of indigo, a special travelling exhibition and a series of curated talks have been lined up by the NIFT to mark 100 years of Gandhi's Champaran Satyagraha.
The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) has planned various commemorative events across its 16 centres which would kick off from its campus in Patna, the city where Gandhi had arrived on April 10, 1917 on way to meet the indigo farmers of Bihar.
"Champaran was the crucible in which the philosophy of civil disobedience was forged on the Indian soil. And, cultivation of indigo was at the centre of the entire movement. So, we thought it was the right occasion to talk about its historical significance.
"But, the story and evolution of indigo is much bigger and deeper. It is not just limited to the 20th century, but harks back even to the Indus Valley civilisation. And, hence we are holding curated 'Indigo Talks' on our various campuses," Director General of NIFT, Sarada Muraleedharan told PTI today.
The word indigo traces its origin to the Greek word 'indikon' - blue dye from India, reference to which dates back to Pliny the Elder, of the early Roman empire era.
"Besides the talks, which would be delivered by scholars and designers who have either worked with indigo or studied it, special lectures and workshops would be conducted to educate our students and perhaps insipre them to work and experiemnt with indigo dye, natural or artificial.
"An important component of this entire commemoration would be a travllling exhibition-- Indigo Champaran Exhibition -- that will kick off from our Patna Campus on April 19," she said.
The exhibition will then travel to campuses in Kolkata, Delhi, Jodhpur, Hyderabad and Chennai, Director, NIFT Patna, Sanjay Shrivastava said.
"It is a proud moment for us to host an exhibition of this nature and scale. Gandhi came to Patna (Bihar) for the first time in April in 1917 and now, 100 years later we are paying tribute to him in a unique way, beginning here," he told PTI.
In fact, Santanu Das, a conceptual artist from National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, will be delivering the first of the 'Indigo Talk' today on the Patna campus. Then two workshops are lined up on April 20-21, he said.
"Leaves of the plant 'Indigofera tinctoria' are fermented to produce the distinct blue colour, using a unique process of reduction and oxidation for dyeing.
"For the exhibition display purpose, we have sourced cakes of indigo dye, to really give people a real picture. After all, how many of us have really seen an indigo plant," Shrivastava said, adding, "We have made our talks, workshops and exhibitions, open to the public".
Muraleedharan said as the exhibition travels from city to city, it will "organically evolve" and at the end of the journey, will turn into someting significant, both in the context of its history and the evolution of texitile and colour industries.
"The objective is to disseminate information regarding the Champaran agitation and to understand and contextualise indigo dye and its significance to Indian culture and fashion," she added.
"At the end of the exhibition, we will also come up with an 'Indigo Module' that will become like a dossier for our students and faculty for furhter research," she added.
The NIFT DG emphasised that due to the exploitation of farmers during the colonial era, somewhat "negative connotation" has been attached to the plant indigo itself.
"There was nothing wrong with the plant, it was its over-cultivation by planters and undue taxation, which were proving exploitative.
"And, so this exhibition and the talks would also help remove those misconceptions, besides educating fashion and textile students about this dyeing vocabulary. And, sort of revive it and link it with khadi and Swadeshi, i.E., hand- woven and hand-crafted textile, and how indigo dye can be used with indigeneous textile," she added.
"It was denim (jeans) that had brought indigo (dye) back into vogue, and we hope these events would give a fresh filip in instilling interest among the students to work with indigo and swadeshi fabric," she said.
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