Stones Tell A Different Tale In Kashmir5 September 2011
Srinagar: On Sunday evening, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah received a stone. This one was not thrown by any stone-pelter but was wrapped in gift paper with beautiful flowers of papier-mâché on it. Similar stones as gifts were received by Industries Minister S.S. Salathia and Chief Secretary Madhav Lal. The gifts were presented by the former Samata Party leader, Jaya Jaitly, whose Dastakari Haat Samiti has organised a 15-day Craft Bazaar in Srinagar. Mr. Abdullah was the chief guest on the occasion. For the last three years, stones have become synonymous with violence in Kashmir. The small stones collected from river-beds received as gifts surely bring a new dimension to stones in the Valley. Nazir Ahmad Mir, a papier-mâché artist in Srinagar downtown, wanted to showcase stones in a positive manner. He quickly picked up the idea given by Ms. Jaitly. “So far Kashmir has been notorious for stone-pelting. I wanted to use it differently. See how beautiful it looks with the flowers found in Mughal Gardens of Kashmir,” he told The Hindu. “You can grow flowers even in stones,” he added. Mr. Nazir a national awardee in the craft, has been in the business for 24 years and has inherited it from his father. “So far I have done more than 300 stones” he says adding that demand was increasing and people liked it. Ms. Jaitly said a stone was sold at Rs. 100 in the Delhi shop of her Samiti. The Craft Bazaar, Ms. Jaitly says, is different in other terms as well. “It is self-financed and the 50 stalls have been put by people from different States.” There are women from a poor background in Jharkhand who have set up a stall for selling soaps manufactured without chemicals. “There are many attractions here as new things have been displayed,” she added. Set up in 1986, the Dastkari Haat Samiti has conducted many prestigious projects all over the country. Among its achievements is the creation of the Dilli Haat, on which the Kashmir Haat is modelled. The Srinagar Craft Bazar is being held for the first time and the objective is to showcase its special developments with the crafts people of Kashmir. The Samiti's Kashmir members are actively involved in it and the Jammu and Kashmir Bank is sponsoring its publicity.