How Virasat was Born

July 9th, 2021

A Cup of Chai, A Newspaper, and A Group of Changemakers: How Virasat was BornSurreal: That is the emotion one feels when looking back at Virasat years after its inception. To think that something conceived so spontaneously; a project which rarely anyone believed in, led by a group of students armed only with a mind for business and a heart for the world, would grow to uplift entire villages and provide hundreds of people with livelihoods: Nothing would suit these turn of events other than “Surreal”.The journey of Virasat has been an interesting one, but its impact and inception set it apart from any other craft organization out there. Here’s the story:One fine morning, Arjun Goel and his comrades from Enactus SRCC came across the Thathiyar craft while browsing through a newspaper, over a good old cup of chai. He still recalls those moments like it happened yesterday: “A newspaper article, that’s where it all began. I remember how we were all taken aback when we read about the fact that an Indian craft, practiced by a group of artisans lying so close to Amritsar was included in UNESCO’s 'List of Intangible Cultural Heritage'.The Thatheras at WorkRather than the fact that there was an Indian craft included in the list, what struck our friends the most was that none of them were aware of the existence of such a village, community, or this supposedly world-famous craft form, even though many lived close to Jandiala Guru, home to Punjab’s Thatheras....

How to approach your artisans? - By Kirti Poonia (Head, Okhai)

July 6th, 2021

Sorry, I have kept this pending for a while.Honestly I was also trying to re-understand the topic one would presume I already know. And as I learnt more perspectives, my take on this was changing. But I am ready now.The relationship between an artisan and designer is a unique one. It’s a very close partnership of sorts, built on a lot of mutual respect for each other’s skills....

Uston Ka Mohalla Part 1: A Peek into the Golden Craft of Usta, Bikaner

May 24th, 2021

While meandering through the narrow lanes of the serene Uston ka Mohalla, I felt a bit disconcerted. It had only been a week since my appointment, and I had already received instructions to visit Mr. Mohsin Raza Usta in Bikaner as my first assignment with Virasat.A mixture of dread and excitement washed all over me as I knocked at the house that was supposed to be his. But, I was taken aback when I was greeted by a homely female face at the door....

Rethinking Handicrafts

May 13th, 2021

“Ever since the pandemic started and tourists stopped coming in, we have not even been able to sell enough to pay our rent.”The eyes of Aman Chacha, a small handicraft artisan in the streets of Bikaner was hiding a tinge of sadness. He fears that if this situation continues, he may well have to close up shop and bid adieu to the craft he had been practicing for his entire life. For thousands of others working in handicrafts like Aman chacha, the situation is no different.An empty handicraft enclave in Nathdwara, in direct contrast to the busy streetAman chacha is just one of many working in handicrafts that have been brutally hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent repercussions, and each of them has almost the same thing to say; With the travel bans and badly hit tourism industry, the customers who used to purchase their products the most have disappeared. A Karigar in his workshopThe news gets even grimmer. Due to the economic crunch brought in by the pandemic, the exports of Indian handicrafts have also taken a huge hit....

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