Cacophony of color and voices.
Women dressed in their elegant best.
Where it feels like an over-sized FabIndia showroom.
Where new-age khadi and linen fabrics overshadow kanjivaram and banarasi sarees.
That pretty much sums up my first day experience at Vastrabharana: the handloom exhibition organized by Crafts Council of Karnataka. It is an annual exhibition that happens in the last week/first week of September/October. One for which women save in the months leading upto it so that they can splurge to their heart’s content.And I’m not kidding. The queue at the cash/credit card counter was longer than the entry line to Chinnaswamy stadium to see you know what.
What does this exhibition have?
Fabrics: ajrakh, hand-block printed, kanjivaram, pochampally, ikat, kalamkari, linen, andhra khadi, kantha, banarasi, chikankari, tussar, raw silk, chanderi, maheshwari etc
Stoles in silk and cotton
Silver and other handmade jewellery
How is this exhibition different?
I’ve been to enough in the past few months than I can count with my fingers. So, here’s what sets this apart:
- Participation: like none other. This picture should say it all. and believe me, the other exhibitions don’t see this kind of fervor as the stall are repetitive. Most stalls here are classy and one of a kind.
- No bargains: women are eager to lap up whatever’s available before it’s gone. I saw reams of Tussar in some colors get over before the end of the first day. And except a few stalls, I hardly saw anyone bargaining.
- Frequency: since it happens only once a year, the novelty stays. Most participants do not participate in other exhibitions.
- Contemporary and straight from artisans.
- 52 stalls.
What to buy?
This would be a tough one to answer, but I’ll attempt to answer this through what appealed to me. I was overwhelmed by the crowd, so much fabric, and the excitement all over. I took my time to go around the stalls and made a mental note of what I liked, but did not buy anything. Stopped by for lunch; went in for a second time and by now knew what I wanted to buy and what not to. Sometimes, some colors are fresh in your mind and you end up picking the same color over and over again without realizing: for me that would be teal and fuchsia. Taking a break and going in after sometime gives clarity. Also, I usually go to exhibitions only on the last day as the crowd is much leaner.
Stall no 1: the colorful checkered blouse fabric for Rs.400 in hues of orange, yellow and red.
Stall no 19: this was by far the most popular stall on day 1 selling exquisite saris and blouse fabrics.
Stall no. 2: linen saris
Stall no 52: tussar material
Dastkar Andhra: nothing special about it as reams of this fabric are easily available even in Commercial Street. but, I particularly liked the self checkered mustard and rust cotton fabric.
Raw silk and Dupion silk saris for Rs.5,600. The color combination was deadly. My favorites were this one.
Pochampally: you can try the dupattas and scarf material which can be repurposed for a blouse too.
If you’ve been to the exhibition, I would love it if you have any recommendations.
Where and when:
Venue: Chitra Kala Parishat, Bangalore
Dates: From 1st Oct to 5th Oct, 2016.
Tip: the queue for card is usually much longer so carry cash if you can. The saris ranges anywhere from Rs.3,500 to over Rs.18,000.
For more pictures, check out dyh’s Facebook page.