Deepavali hampers: Initiatives to support artisans, weavers and the differently-abled

From stepping up support for traditional artisans and weavers to lending a helping hand to the differently-abled, this Deepavali organisations and social enterprises are making festive hampers handmade with hope

Creative Dignity

The Karuna doll project, launched last year during the pandemic by Creative Dignity, a volunteer movement, became a symbol of hope for traditional Indian crafts.

Now, the dolls are spreading cheer again, this time with Deepavali kits. About 15 hampers featuring the dolls have been designed by the team. “Gifting a part of our Indian craft heritage is something that we wanted to encourage in the festive season. Each Karuna doll represents a region’s craft history.” says Mazher Ramzanali, project lead for Karuna Dolls. For instance, Veeranvali and Jugni — the Karuna Dolls from Punjab, wear traditional phulkari work dresses. From Andhra Pradesh, there is Anni and Sita, both symbols of strong women reflecting the ancient craft of Tholu Bommalata or leather puppetry.

Mazher says the the dolls are a bridge between rural India and cosmopolitan India, adding “Our aim is to teach the younger generation about the dignity of handmade products and India’s traditional craft.” The Deepavali kits include ceramic stoneware cups, sow-and-grow plantable firecrackers, ghee diyas and copper bottles.

Orders can be placed via the Instagram handle creativedignity.

Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh

Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh (CCAP)’s compact Deepavali kit reflects the rich ancestral craft history of Andhra Pradesh. A kalamkari table runner, Narsapur lace coasters, Etikoppaka’s napthalene balls holder, Nimmalakunta leather earrings, Pulagurta napkins, Veduru (bamboo) baskets, eco-friendly diyas and coconut shell cups are tucked into this thoughtfully curated hamper. “All the items are sourced from Andhra Pradesh. The objective is to encourage people to support the traditional crafts of the region,” says Ammaji Rayudu, secretary of CCAP, adding “The festival of Deepavali is the best time to give our patronage to the craft industry, which is still reeling under the effects of the pandemic. Ahead of the season, discussions were held and pictures were exchanged between the artisans and the Crafts Council team, so that they could help tweak design to suit contemporary home decor.

Orders can be placed via the Instagram handle craftscouncil_ap.

Prajwal Vani Welfare Society

The Deepavali buzz at PVWS, the Prajwal Vani Welfare Society, which supports differently-abled individuals, begins a few weeks ahead of the festival. At its centre at Akkayyapalem, a group is busy painting rows of earthern diyas and making candles of different colours. These will be put up for sale at stalls at CMR Central Mall over the weekend. “This year over 120 students are making 5,000 diyas under our Visakha Khushi Deep project. People can directly place their orders at our centre as well,” says KVL Suchitra Rao, the society’s founder. The project began about eight years ago to train differently-abled in diya making. “While we source the diyas from the potter’s colony, the whole experience of decorating the diyas with their own designs and colours and interacting with people exposes them to market functions and also teaches them to handle money,” she adds. Proceed from the sales are distributed among the children’s families. “This might not be a big contribution but the children swell with pride seeing people buy their deepams,” says Suchitra.

Call 9347973327 to place orders.

Sampoorna

With just a week to go for Deepavali, Sagarika has not a minute to spare. She hurriedly dabbles shimmery colours on earthen diyas, working carefully. All around the hall of NGO Sampoorna’s unit at Zilla Parishad Junction, differently-abled women like Sagarika are busy giving finishing touches to the diyas, before they head home to their villages for the festivities. Ch. Satya, the founder-president of Sampoorna oversees the operations from her wheelchair while attending to the customers.

Floating candles and earthen lamps are given a festive makeover by the women. Diyas are embellished with glittery stones and coated with chalk paint before being filled with melted wax. Back in the kitchen, the women pack the traditional sweets and snacks for the festive season. Satya says, ever since they launched in 2001, Deepavali has never been a dull affair. Till 2020. “Last year was the only time when we did not do anything due to the pandemic. This year thankfully the orders have picked up,” says Satya.

The team has made over 10,000 diyas this year. From making paper bags to affordable biodegradable sanitary napkins, the women are trained in various skills. “Preparations for Deepavali begin weeks ahead. This year, we received a good number of orders for traditional sweets like ariselu, bellam gavvalu and snacks like chegodilu and murukulu,” says Satya.

Call 9959151666 to customise and place orders.

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