Rashmi Rekha Das

The 18th annual Toshali National Crafts Mela has seen good footfall from visitors and enthusiasts since its inception at Janata Maidan in Bhubaneswar on December 15.

The Toshali Mela is a confluence of exquisite products by master craftsmen, weavers and artisans from across the country. The aim is to facilitate development of traditional crafts while sensitizing the rural artisans and weavers about quality and market standards for the handloom and handicraft products.

Organised by the State Institute for Development of Arts and Crafts (SIDAC) on behalf of the Handlooms, Textiles & Handicrafts Department, Government of Odisha, the fair is considered to be one of the Eastern India’s most popular handloom and handicrafts fairs, showcasing the richness and diversity of the handicrafts, handlooms and cultural fabric of Odisha in particular.

The Toshali Mela also takes forward the concept of ‘Vocal for Local’. This year, there have been over 600 participants from across the country which includes 550 artisans and weavers from Odisha.

The mela boasts a ‘Theme Pavilion’ that showcases Geographical Indication (GI) registered tribal handicrafts and weaves of Odisha. “Many products developed in Odisha have been accorded the GI certification. A special pavilion has been set up at the Toshali Mela this year to inform people about the 9 handlooms that have been given GI tag. Here, people can see the flawless craftsmanship of Odisha weavers. Moreover, sculptors and artisans from different states including Odisha have participated in the Toshali Mela makings it’s scope wider,” said Shovan Krishna Sahu, Director of Textiles and Handlooms, Govt of Odisha.

The theme pavilion displays GI tagged Odisha handicrafts products like Pattachitra, traditional applique work of Pipli, and stonecarving work. The GI tagged handloom of Odisha includes Bomkai saree of Dhenkanal, Tussar fabrics of Gopalpur, Sambalpuri Bandha saree, Habaspuri saree, Odisha Ikat saree of western districts, Dhalapathar Parda (door curtain) of Khordha, Kotpad handloom fabrics of Kalahandi district, Khandua Saree & fabrics, Berhampur Patta and Joda.

“People visiting the Toshali Mela have shown a wider appreciation for various Odisha handloom and handicrafts as well as diverse products from other states of India available at a single destination. It has become a good platform for weavers, artisans and craftsmen to showcase & sell their products,” said Pranati Chhotray, Director of Handicrafts, Govt of Odisha.

Adding flavour to the theme pavilion, the new silk named Cruelty free Karuna Silk stall has occupied a significant space attracting footfalls. The technique of letting the Eri silkworm fly away before extracting Silk Fibers makes the process compassionate. It also adheres to the modern concept of sustainable fashion. Visitors are seen taking keen interest to know the process behind making Karuna Silk.

Karuna Silk is a new innovation introduced by the Department of Handlooms, Textiles & Handicrafts through which traditional Khandua Patta offered to Lord Jagannath are being weaved without killing silkworms as opposed to the traditional method used earlier.

When asked, Binay Bhushan Jena, Chairman of Textile Association of India, Odisha Unit about the theme pavilion, he said, “This year the theme pavilion at Toshali National Crafts Mela is unique in many respect. Bringing cruelty free ‘Karuna Silk’ to the forefront is the biggest catch in promoting Odisha as the front runner in sustainable fashion in a true sense”.

Additionally, the Toshali Mela features LIVE Demo of various handicrafts of Odisha thus adding to the visitors’ experience. Open 2:30 to 9:30 PM, the mela has become a hotspot of activities in the smart city with visitors from all ages thronging the venue of Janata Maidan, Bhubaneswar.