HYDERABAD: Swayambhar Nari's seven-day exhibition of handicrafts from Shantiniketan, West Bengal kicked off at YWCA in Secunderabad. Nayantara Nandakumar, a Odissi Dancer, founder of Our Sacred Space-a Cultural and Environmental Center in Secunderabad, inaugurated the exhibition. The exhibition is organized by Swayambhar NARI (Non-formal Action Research Institute), a Kolkata-based voluntary organisation. It will be open to public till Swayambhar NARI activities are supported by Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), ministry of textiles, govt of India; National Jute Board (Ministry of Textiles, govt of India); KHADI; National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Wadi Project of NABARD, National Institute of Design (NID) and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) for skill up gradation and product diversification in handicrafts. The highlight of the exhibition is Khesh Sarees which is made of using a unique technique of weaving old sarees. Kantha is a popular style of embroidery from West Bengal, is a significant symbol that displays the skill and talent of the rural women in Bengal. It is perhaps the oldest forms of Indian embroidery as it can be traced back to the first and second AD.
Many poor artisans from West Bengal who can't market handicrafts on their own are provided with a platform in this exhibition to showcase their products and artistic skills. The focus of the exhibition is to improve the socio-economic status of socially handicapped communities. So buy a product from the exhibition and it will help artisans. Swayambhar NARI was started in 1988 essentially for women but over the years the male craftsmen too have joined. It was started as a voluntary group for providing marketing facilities to craft persons. Today, it has more than 1,000 members. The organisation runs two craft schools at Midnapore and Birbhum, Shantiniketan besides schools in rural areas for the craftspersons' children. It advises craftspersons on design matters.