Unveiling little Bengal in Delhi

- February 15, 2024
| By : Neha Kirpal |

Bengal Bazaar, being held at Hauz Khas from February 15 to 17, offers art, apparel and home decor from the eastern state to Delhiites

ADAPTATION: Shola, which was used to embellish statues of gods and goddesses, have been adapted to contemporary designs by craftsmen

Baro Market has brought its specially curated Bengal Bazaar to Delhi for the first time. From fashion forward brands that create zero-waste clothing to the very classic needle-work by craftsmen from Santiniketan, it promises to dress up every kind of choice.

Known for her exquisite taste and eye for fine design, curator and owner of Baro Market, Srila Chatterjee has carved a niche for design shows that leave her audience in anticipation for her next presentation. Bengal Bazaar is one of her many popular shows. It highlights the culture and essence of Bengal through design.

BACKBONE: Srila Chatterjee owns Baro Market which is bringing the Bengal Bazaar to Delhi

As the name suggests, the bazaar is all things Bengal – be it art, apparel and  home decor. Chatterjee hosted it previously in Mumbai over the last five years, bringing together art, design and craft that is not available locally. The event continues to get bigger and better with each passing year. 

“It has a fabulous feel, beautiful things and has always been as much a place to be invigorated by as one to shop in. Its followers have increased manifold with each edition,” says Chatterjee.

The team were flooded with messages asking them to take it to other cities. 

When craft lover Sonia Bhandari offered her garden in Delhi, it was an offer too good to refuse. Having grown up in Bengal, hosting Bengal Bazaar was a no-brainer for Bhandari. 

“Craft inspires and invigorates me and always keeps me in touch with the true soul of India,” she said. 

And so, Chatterjee decided to bring the show for the first time to Delhi’s Hauz Khas from the 15th to 17th of February. 

DECKED UP: The handcrafted brass jewellery from Anki Bunki Aditi, a designer store from Kolkata

“Delhi is a city made up of people who have come from everywhere, and it has a very significant population of Bengalis who have been Delhi natives for several generations. They never lost their Bengal connection, and are bound to be excited by this bazaar,” says Chatterjee.

Some of the things to look forward to at the event include Shola flowers. Shola is the inside, or pith, of weeds that grow in the mangrove areas of Bengal, Odisha and Assam. It is a natural organic material that looks and behaves a lot like thermocol. 

Traditionally, shola was used to embellish statues of gods and goddesses as hanging decor and headgear for weddings. Today, craftsmen have adapted their art to many contemporary designs, such as this one. Then there are terracotta sculptures by Dolon Kundu, an under-privileged woman who won the National Handicrafts Award in 2019. 

WORK OF ART: Hasa, a ceramic studio, will also make its presence felt at the Bengal Bazaar

Kundu now employs over 40 women in her studio. She specialises in pinch pottery, which involves moulding clay by hand through a special pinching process. 

Kolkata-based independent art curator and archivist Sounak Chacraverti spearheads Sensorium, an independent organisation that aims to popularise art at different levels, by not only showcasing established artists, but also by exhibiting talented newcomers. 

In the past, Chacraverti has curated important archival exhibitions such as The World of Tapan Sinha in 2018 and A Manzil of Memories on film director Basu Chatterjee in 2014. Sensorium has participated at the Bazaar several times in the past. 

“Besides paintings and prints of Indian masters, we create art merchandise which can be used by consumers,” informs Chacraverti. 

Anki Bunki Aditi is a designer store from Kolkata known for its unique, new-age handcrafted brass and clay jewellery, designer sarees and handpicked designer dresses, all of which are inspired by Mother Nature. 

It also draws inspiration from Indian ethnic culture and various tribal crafts from across the country. 

CREATION: Special Bankura Horse made of terracotta by Dolon Kundu, an under-privileged woman who won the National Handicrafts Award

“Here, you’ll find sarees, clothing, scarves, jewellery and even gifts, all of which are handpicked by Chatterjee and team from across Bengal,” adds Aditi Chakrabarti. 

Sriparna Ray from Bhomra Design, which creates jamdani dresses and menswear too, seems optimistic about taking the market to Delhi for the first time. 

“As a creator, designer and forever student of everything craft-based, we’re always looking for spaces where our work and its finer nuances are appreciated,” she says. 

145 East started as an initiative to revive the gamcha, a ‘dying textile’, by promoting and creating awareness about it through fashion, photography, films, music and writing. 

KEEPING ALIVE: 145 East, a clothing store from Kolkata, has been trying to revive the traditional gamcha

“Born out of a collection of the stories that we keep telling aloud to the world, it’s about being playful yet making sure that Bengal’s culture leaves a mark,” remarks Shoma Badoni from 145 East. 

Apart from these, the bazaar will also have several brands from Santiniketan, such as Sadaf textile studio, Hasa ceramic studio, Needle (handcrafted fashion accessories created from fabric), Amoli (handcrafted bric-a-brac that powers women forward), The Bindi Project (handmade bespoke bindis) and Bunophal (which uses natural botanical dye and mineral salts to craft intricate botanical prints from real flowers and leaves on natural fabrics like hemp, cotton, linen and silk). 

“Bengal has an extensive array of crafts beginning from terracotta, shola, dokra, kantha, pat, to woodcraft, embroidery leather and grass. We are trying to catapult young artisans, so these crafts don’t become extinct and more of the younger generation can learn and improve the craft with their expertise and design intervention,” says Bidisha Tagore, a curator of brands from Santiniketan.

Some of the other brands to look forward to at the bazaar include Harper’s Lane that creates everyday wearables made of natural fabrics; Ssahaworks which makes sarees, stoles, dresses and accessories in the finest muslin handspun cottons, jamdanis and silk; and Latasita that offers zero-waste clothing. 

Bengal Bazaar is being held at 5 Padmini Enclave, Hauz Khas from February 15 – 17.