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Palm leaf brooms and fans, patch work bed covers, bead jewellery and crochet lace dresses are some of the eye-catching items at an exhibition of Indian handicraft products here. The exhibition cum sale by the Scheduled Caste artisans and weavers is on the Handloom Haat at Janpath till April 23. It was organised to coincide with the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar by the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles. Over 40 artisans and weavers from the nook and corner of the country are participating in the event which aims at empowering them. Bondappally Girija, who comes from the remotest corner of down south Narsapur in Andhra Pradesh, has put up a stall of crochet lace works. "It has been a great opportunity to sell our products directly to high-end customers," she says. Girija works for an NGO Lace Knitting and Rural Development Association which employs mostly poor weavers by encouraging them to come out of their homes and earn a livelihood. "Some items like shoes, table clothes and dresses got good response from the buyers," she says and hopes to participate in more such programmes. The artisans are from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh besides the national capital. Other products at the exhibition include embroidery such as Phulkari, Chikankari, Gota Pati and patch work, printed textiles, Chanderi items, paintings such as Madhubani, Gond and miniature, glass work, natural fibre, wooden toys and leather craft. Sudhakar Khadse deals in palm leaf craft and has come from Sultanabad, a village 300 km away from Bhopal city.
He says the exhibition has provided an opportunity for artisans like him to interact with the buyers for entering into long term business and commercial relations. Makhna Ram has participated in such an exhibition for the first time. Around 50 members of his household are engaged in embroidery work. He specialises in making patch work bed covers and bed sheets and cushion and pillow covers. "We sell our products mostly at village fairs and weekly markets. This is the first time we have come to an exhibition of such a magnitude and the response has been quite good," he says.
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