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An explosion of creativity...


THE INNUMERABLE arts of Rajasthan amply make up for its lack of water. Whether in food and fairs, textiles, performing arts or crafts, it would be hard to match Rajasthan for sheer variety - a variety that has been beautifully captured in Brij Basi Publications' "Colours of a Desert Land - Rajasthan" by Surendra Sahai. And it's time for one of Rajasthan's most unique annual features, the Pushkar mela, which has grown round the twin phenomena of the lunar month of Kartik, during which Hindu devotees take a ritual dip - Kartik snaan - and the world's largest camel fair.

"The fair itself is a traditional event, but of late the State Government has entered the arena in an attempt to help local artisans of the Pushkar area as well as boost tourism. This year's fair continues till November 9, and Dr. Punita Singh, Assistant Director, Department of Tourism, Art and Culture of the Rajasthan Government, explains that for the second time, a Shilp Gram has been created where artisans are provided stalls free of charge.

"This is our small effort to highlight the crafts and arts of Rajasthan," she says. The Shilp Gram functions parallel to the haat bazaar, which Punita Singh describes as "totally disorganised but very interesting and touching" and recommends for its charm as well as the artefacts available. The two bazaars do not clash, as the haat bazaar caters to the demand for useful household articles - like iron utensils, etc. - as also the famous camel jewellery, while the Shilp Gram features a range of rural crafts popular among urban customers.

These include textiles, like Kota, Sanganeri and Barmer prints. The Barmer embroidery and patchwork creations, which, Punita points out, sustained the artisans' families through years of famine, are also available. Leather shoes from Jodhpur; blue pottery, embossed marble, cloth and wooden toys are other arts that may be found at the Shilp Gram. Kishangarh's Bani-thani paintings have been innovated on different surfaces, like furniture, lampshades and fabrics.


The Shilp Gram's success, the Assistant Director feels, can be gauged from the fact that 50 per cent of the artisans have approached the Government on their own this year, though only 30 will be accommodated. On the cards is a move to make the Shilp Gram an exhibition area during other times of the year too.

For contemporary artists is the Industries Department's craft exhibition, which has a wider span and is meant for artisans working beyond the cottage industry scale.

From camels to cushion covers, there's plenty up for sale at Pushkar. Apart from shopping, there are performing arts galore, and the only Brahma temple in the world. Brahma the Creator certainly chose the most creative place to strike camp.

ANJANA RAJAN

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