… so go the lines of a famous hymn chanted by Gandhi every day. Loosely translated, the words mean “People call you by many names. Some call you Ishvar and some call you Allah, but you are the one and only infinite Divinity within all of us. Bless everyone with this wisdom so we may all strive towards the path of righteousness and virtue”.
These words ring true in this day and age of conflict and strife, and continued division between human beings on the basis of race and religion and skin colour. Not just songs and words, we need action too, to unify us all and work towards a beautiful world, a fair world. Fair Trade provides a platform where we can convert words into deeds.
Craft Resource Center (CRC) is a democratic and secular Fair Trade organisation adhering to Fair Trade Principles such as Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association. CRC works with artisans and employs staff from multi religious backgrounds, be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or Buddhism.
In 2016, CRC conceptualised a religiously pluralistic product, a Rosary bracelet. It is a bracelet that is an exclusively designed “one-decade rosary” (ten-beaded) worn around the wrist as a piece of Catholic jewellery. Continuing with CRC’s philosophy of multi-artisan involvement in the making of a product to generate more work, CRC went one step further to develop a product that will involve more than one religious community thus sending messages of tolerance and peace.
Batul Artisans Cooperative - Papier Mache bracelets
Batul Artisans of Srinagar, Kashmir have partnered with CRC since their inception. The group members are followers of Islam. Given their geographical area, they are fighting incredible odds - be it militant insurgency or ravages of calamity- natural or anthropogenic. This group comprising of 30 crafts persons, mostly women, is an epitome of courage and craftsmanship.
The process for making papier mache is relatively simple but takes quite a bit of time and labour. There are two main steps in the process of creating papier mache items. The first is the sakhtsazi, or the actual production of the item. The second is the naqashi, when the item is painted with any number of motifs. Each part is attached using threads and crystal beads. All the bracelets are beautiful with a smooth, shiny feel.
Bengal Crafts and Lakshminarayan Wood, Horn and Bone Carving - Felt and wooden beads.
Bengal Crafts started working with CRC since 2001, supplying stuffed toys, hanging decorative and Christmas stars for Fair Trade markets in the West. The group started engaging women of Bandipur village in Hooghly district of West Bengal, India. The group members are Hindus in majority. The women of the area have no formal education and are not ideally suited to work in construction sites or brick kilns. They took up a part time job making stuffed toys besides continuing with their daily chores. On mastering the art, they graduated to learning how to bind notebooks using upcycled kantha (a traditional Bengal embroidery form) cloth. To further enhance their skillsets, they have been trained in felt-making under the aegis of CRC. In the Rosary bracelet, the women have used felt beads. These beads are made by moistening and rolling raw wool in the shape of a ball. The women are very adept tailors as well! Felt beads are tied with a piece of string and crystal beads at regular intervals add that extra zing!
Rabindranath Adak of Lakshminarayan Wood, Horn and Bone Curving lives with his family in Maguria, a village in East Midnapore in West Bengal. The Adak family is a traditional wood, horn, bone and coconut shell carver making artifacts in wood, bone and horn collected from various abattoirs or from the already dead animals. The Adak family and their 22 artisans feel elated about their pieces of art travelling abroad. They are crafters of wooden bracelets. They have used a variety of woods like tal, neem and sheesham wood in Rosary beads making.
With the ushering in of a brand New Year, renew your ties with God or Ishvar or Allah or Jesus or Buddha by wearing our Rosary bracelets. Take a concrete step to promoting goodwill and celebrate the Universality of the human spirit. And above all, be Fair and buy a Fair Trade product.