Founded in 2008, Rang De is a Bengaluru-based peer-to-peer micro-investment organisation, focussed on helping farmers, artisans, and small businesses by raising social investments. Due to the nature of their work, they are well aware of how deeply rural artisans have been affected by the ongoing pandemic. So, in an effort to revive handmade products, and help them get back on their feet, Habba, a sister concern of the organisation, has offered an alternative livelihood — making rakhis — to 1000 artisans from around the country.
Apart from engaging the artisans, the organisation has also come up with a campaign ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Artisan’ where people can buy these handmade eco-friendly rakhis and send it to a soldier along with a message.
“The idea came to us a few days ago after a distressing phone call from a group of artisans in Uttarakhand, who were looking for help to sell 10,000 rakhis they had made from ringal bamboo, a native variety. The artisans had made the same last year and claim they had sold like hot cakes among tourists and other traders. This year, they have made the same number of rakhis but are unable to attract customers. After one week of brainstorming, we thought why not engage more artisan groups around the country, and send the rakhis to soldiers as well? After speaking with army officials we realised that the soldiers receive rakhis from school students every year along with a personal note. But, this year with schools closed, they may not get any,” mentions Ramakrishna N, the co-founder of Rang De.
With help from 10 organisations who run artisan community centres, Rang De was able to employ 1000 artisans from across the country. Each organisation is focused on making 10,000 rakhis or more, and they are made using traditional art forms native to that region.
Raveena Manral, a local artisan from Manar village in Uttrakhand, was previously involved in knitting sweaters. She started making rakhis a few weeks ago after the sale of her handmade clothes slowed down.
“I am working as part of a community centre, and I am also the staff leader there. Though we were being compensated monthly, we could not make the extra bonuses by selling the clothes. My husband who was working in Delhi lost his job, and could not earn any money. Without the bonus, it was very hard to make ends meet, and with two young children, we had to find a way to earn the extra income. Making rakhis came as a boon for us,” she says.
Various types of Rakhis
Artisans who were earlier involved in hand-weaving, embroidery, or jewellery-making decided to revamp their skills and try their hand at making rakhis to earn a livelihood.
Himalayan Blooms is a social enterprise to empower women from the hills of Uttarakhand by creating livelihood opportunities. Prathibha Krishnaiah, who has been part of Himalaya Blooms for the cv last 5 years says, “There are 150 women employed as part of Himalayan Blooms. These women are trained with knitting, tailoring, and were earlier engaged in knitting winter-wear from cotton. But, during the lockdown, none of the clothes could be put for sale, and it was getting very tough for them to make ends meet. Now, 90 of them are making rakhis from pure cotton threads with brass embellishments, and beads.”
Apart from that, rakhis are made from different hand-crochet techniques, ringal bamboo, organic kala cotton, and more.
How To Purchase the Rakhis
While there is no limit on the number of rakhis one can purchase, each is priced at Rs.100 including the shipping cost. For every piece Rs 50 will go to the artisans for making the rakhi. The remaining will go towards, shipping, designing, and material cost.
If you wish to participate in the campaign and send a handmade rakhi, along with a note to a jawan, click here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)