Amrita Prasad & Alisha Shinde
Thursday, 4 October 2018

...that’s the purpose of The Yellow Ribbon NGO Fair, the annual pre-Diwali event held in the city.

Parul Mehta, founder and trustee, Ishanya Foundation, says the foundation aims to help create self-reliant and self-sufficient youth, predominantly empowering women, farmers and their families across locations. “With a key focus on these areas, the foundation networks to develop linkages with like-minded NGOs and international social organisations, Central and State Government to add further value to our endeavours of developing livelihood and secondary source of income programmes,” says Mehta.

The Yellow Ribbon NGO Fair, Ishanya’s annual pre-Diwali event, provides a platform where NGOs and self-help groups can showcase and sell their products. That helps generate awareness about the work done by them too. “The Yellow Ribbon NGO Fair (YRNF) aims to provide a larger platform to the artisans and custodians of Indian cultural heritage. Each year, the fair showcases handpicked portfolio of items and festive collections from over 100 NGOs and artisans from across the country and brings unique offerings for its patrons,” says Mehta, adding that the 11th edition of YRNF will see artists from different parts of India exhibiting Warli art, Pattachitra Art and Terracotta paintings, different kinds of products made of copper, wood, eco-friendly fibres, etc.

“Artisans will also be displaying sarees, dupattas, dress materials, quilts and cushion covers in batik art, kantha stitch, bandhani, shibori, block printing to name a few. Handmade jewellery items, dokra, antiques and crystal glass will also be displayed by NGOs. Mohd Khatri, an award winning Bandhani artist will be displaying his products while internationally recognised artist Jaan Mohammed Lohar will be showcasing different kinds of bells,” says Mehta.

Ishanya itself will have a stall selling gift envelopes, set of table mats, fancy bags, jewellery pouches, royal asan, gift bags and so on. “The foundation helps women working with them to ideate and create innovative and environment-friendly products in several categories, for example recycling old jeans to make trendy bags and aprons, festive bags and cloth envelopes with recycled saree fabrics, etc. The products are given a final touch by trained professionals to look presentable and user-friendly,” says Mehta.

The intricate metal art
Mahalaxmi Mahila Bachat Gat, based out of a small village in Alibaug, is taking the legacy of meenakari forward by adding the art to everyday artefacts like tall metal lamps, ash trays, jewellery and show pieces. 
“We came across a group of women in the village who showed potential in learning a new art form, so we decided to train them in this intricate art form which originally belongs to the Persian lands. The women quickly picked up the skill although the work is quite tedious,” says Pramod Patil, who works in a copper factory in Alibaug and now heads the Mahalaxmi Mahila Bachat Gat. 

Patil says that meenakari is an age-old art form of decorating metal with coloured enamel. Currenlty, the group includes 10 women who equally participate in the entire process of making the artefacts. The process of making a single piece is very complicated, Patil says, adding that copper is widely used in it because it is easily malleable. 

The women first finalise the design and decide the colours that they want to use for the products. “Copper is the base on which enamel is applied. The women then add a coating of lacquer to it using a dipping technique.

It is then heated at 600 degrees celsius and coated again. This is followed by another heat treatment,” Patil explains the process. He adds that after this, the copper sheet is finally ready to make designs on it. With a combination of oxides, colours are made and the copper sheet is put in the furnace once again so that the beautiful colours are revealed. All this is done purely by hand, Patil specifies, adding, “The intricacy that the hand brings cannot be achieved by machines.” 

Although the women have never had a formal training in meenakari technique, that does not stop them from bettering themselves every time they are making a product. “They are learning newer designs to keep themselves updated with the ongoing trends in the market,” Patil says happily.

Since these women come from rural areas, they have very little exposure to art. “It is through exhibitions and art fairs that they and their work get exposure. They need it to move ahead with the art of meenakari and also to understand how the market works and how it can be used to survive in this competitive age,” he says.

ST Reader Service
Catch The Yellow Ribbon NGO Fair 2018 at Creaticity Campus (Formerly known as Ishanya), Opposite GolfCourse, Airport Rd, Yerwada, on October 5 (3 pm onwards) and October 6 - 8 (11 am - 9 pm)

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