Power of the Human Spirit - 5
Over a month ago shelter-in-place became the new reality in India. The severe restrictions state that no one can leave home except to buy groceries or medicine. Even short walks around the neighborhood are prohibited. This directive is being strictly enforced. Police check posts oversee the public areas and there are huge fines imposed on anyone not complying with the rules.
As this emergency continues with no real reliable end in sight, MarketPlace has been giving a food subsidy to the artisans since they are unable to work. Likewise, their family members, many of whom are daily wage earners, cannot work and earn. Staff members are calling the artisans regularly to check on their welfare. Artisans and staff members are keeping us updated by sending pictures and news of their "new normal" everyday lives.
TIME TO EXPERIMENT, TIME TO ENJOY
Like many Americans who are staying at home, the artisans in India are getting creative with food. With everyone at home, there has been more time to plan and prepare dishes. In more normal times meals are quick bites between other activities, with various family members eating at different times. In the current situation meals are more of a social event. Even the children are getting involved in coming up with new menus. Living in cosmopolitan Mumbai, the women are exposed to foods from other cultures, from ads, restaurant signs, movies, etc. Some of these dishes and ingredients have been adopted and adapted into everyday Indian cooking. "Fusion cooking" is a fun result. The artisans are enjoying experimenting with their cooking, and their families are also happy participants.
Top Left: Egg Pulav Top Right: Laxmi Vishwakarma from Sahara Collective holding homemade Samosa Bottom Left: Pani Puri Bottom Right: vegetable cutlet
CRAFTING A WELCOME
The Indian tradition of decorating the top of a home's entrance goes back centuries. Called "toran" from the Sanskrit "to pass," this adornment welcomes in guests and family. One particularly hoped-for visitor would be Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune, who may be pleased by the artistry and reward the residents. Torans come in very diverse forms and materials, according to region, time of year, holiday, and the creativity of the maker. A toran can be as simple as a string of marigolds or mango leaves, or some other auspicious plant. Or it could be made from fabric, possibly embroidered or embellished with mirrors, tassels or pompoms. Sometimes they are made of metal or beads. During this time at home, some of the women have enjoyed designing and making new torans for their doorways.
Left: Rita Singh from Shramik Mahila Mandal Co-operative Middle: Rashmi Sahrma from Nirmaan Collective Right: Sharmila Sharma from Nirmaan Collective
FLOWERS AND MORE
Ranphul Mahila Mandal (RMM) is an artisan group located in a more rural area outside of Mumbai. It has something of a village atmosphere. The homes may not be large, but there is more space around them. Some of the artisans have small gardens, so even under the current shelter-in-place order they can provide some fresh foods for their family. They also can still earn some money picking flowers. Before RMM was established, this was the only possible source of income for the women. It was backbreaking work that paid very little. After they began doing hand embroidery for better wages, some women still did opt to do some occasional flower picking. They liked the outdoors, the camaraderie, and the additional income. They also liked that it was their choice and their schedule. Now once again it is the sole option - but only temporarily!
Top: Darshana Hemade from Ranphul Mahila Mandal picking flowers (one of the morning jobs she does) Bottom: Brinal Ruzario from Ranphul Mahila Mandal with her son
TIME TO CREATE
During the lockdown, arts and crafts have been an important creative outlet for the children. Many of their mothers have also decided to spend some time on their own handicrafts. Some are expanding their hand embroidery expertise. Others are branching out into knitting, crocheting and making macramé decorations. Many are recalling practices taught to them by their mothers when they were young and are making quilts out of layers of old saris or patched-together worn out clothing.
Top Left: Deepika Gond from WARE Collective Top Right: Varsha Tawde from Jivdani Mahila Mandal Co-Operative Middle Images: More projects from Varsha Tawde from Jivdani Mahila Mandal Co-Operative Bottom Left: Sumitra Mistri from Sahara Collective Bottom Right: Seema Yadav from Sahara Collective
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO SEE MORE FROM THE ARTISANS.
Power of the Human Spirit - 1
Power of the Human Spirit - 2
Power of the Human Spirit - 3
Power of the Human Spirit - 4
Power of the Human Spirit - 6