Monday, 30th October 2017

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Glimpses from an artful welcome to Goddess Durga

Malika Varma’s Kantha Collection, made by the women artisans of rural Bengal

  • Published 23.09.19, 7:59 PM
  • Updated 23.09.19, 7:59 PM
  • 4 mins read
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The exhibition displayed a wide range of kantha items such as saris, dupattas, scarves, jackets and panels Pictures: Koushik Saha

Kantha revivalist Shamlu Dudeja and daughter Malika Varma put together an evening of music, dance and fashion walk called Agomoni at ITC Royal Bengal on September 8 to welcome Goddess Durga. The event focussed on women empowerment with distinguished men and women from various walks of life walking the ramp in Malika’s Kantha Collection, made by the women artisans of rural Bengal.

The evening saw a dance recital by Tanusree Shankar and her troupe. Music duo Soumyojit Das and Sourendro Mullick performed a couple of pieces on the invocation of Goddess Durga. An exhibition of kantha pieces was also on display for the visitors. Snapshots.

The exhibition displayed a wide range of kantha items such as saris, dupattas, scarves, jackets and panels. “This year for Durga Puja we have added beads and sequins to our designs and a lot of tie and dye in the collection,” said Malika. “The fashion walk was specific to Durga Puja, we chose black and red for the asuras with sequin detailing. Tanusreedi chose bright colours for the Ya Devi performance. We gave a gorgeous jacket with beadwork and a red sari with sequin work for Durga’s look in Ya Devi,” said Malika. 

Beautiful kantha panels were part of the display
Beautiful kantha panels were part of the display Pictures: Koushik Saha

“I like kantha very much. So it feels very nice to be present at this beautiful exhibition. The event was also very informative, it was educational for me to learn about kantha and I enjoyed it too. I saw Durga Puja twice in this city, and this will be my third time. I feel it is celebrated very nicely, ” said Masayuki Taga, the consul general of Japan.

“I liked the event very much because it was about women empowerment... empowerment of the women from West Bengal,” said Sweeya Santipitaks, the consul general of Thailand. 

“I think it is a beautiful event. Malika and Shamlu are pioneers in developing this art form. It is really important to preserve this art and give a work opportunity to the women of rural Bengal. We enjoyed the evening very much,” said Jurgen Thomas Schrod, the deputy consul general of Germany.

Shamlu Dudeja and Malika Varma with Gouri Basu, Tanusree Shankar, Patti Hoffman, Parul Swarup, Priti Patel, Vinita Bajoria, Mousumi Sengupta, Atri Bhattacharya, Rupali Basu, Jaya Seal Ghosh, Roshni Sen, Husna-Tara Prakash, Rita Bhimani, Lata Bajoria, Kangan Bhalla, Saumya Varma, Oindrilla Dutt, Atul Bhalla, Soumyojit Das and Sourendro Mullick in a photocall post the walk.
Shamlu Dudeja and Malika Varma with Gouri Basu, Tanusree Shankar, Patti Hoffman, Parul Swarup, Priti Patel, Vinita Bajoria, Mousumi Sengupta, Atri Bhattacharya, Rupali Basu, Jaya Seal Ghosh, Roshni Sen, Husna-Tara Prakash, Rita Bhimani, Lata Bajoria, Kangan Bhalla, Saumya Varma, Oindrilla Dutt, Atul Bhalla, Soumyojit Das and Sourendro Mullick in a photocall post the walk. Pictures: Koushik Saha

Shamlu Dudeja and Malika Varma with Gouri Basu, Tanusree Shankar, Patti Hoffman, Parul Swarup, Priti Patel, Vinita Bajoria, Mousumi Sengupta, Atri Bhattacharya, Rupali Basu, Jaya Seal Ghosh, Roshni Sen, Husna-Tara Prakash, Rita Bhimani, Lata Bajoria, Kangan Bhalla, Saumya Varma, Oindrilla Dutt, Atul Bhalla, Soumyojit Das and Sourendro Mullick in a photocall post the walk. “The first sari I bought was a kantha sari from Shamlu. She was so kind and welcoming in my first month in Calcutta. I was blown away by the display she had, so I ended up buying two because I couldn’t decide. Today I am wearing one of the two that I bought and I really like the blue-green colour combination of this sari,” said US consul general Patti Hoffman. Soumyojit and Sourendro who performed besides walking on the ramp, said: “Our performance included an invocation to the Shakti and then a small glimpse of the Bangla agomoni song. We also performed a piece which basically depicts the fight between Ma Durga and Mahishasur. Music has an important part to play in Bengal when it comes to festivities.” Atul Bhalla, area manager east, ITC Hotels & cluster general manager, ITC Royal Bengal & ITC Sonar, who also walked the ramp, said, “Durga Puja is coming up and we pay tribute to the Goddess through the works of Bengal’s skilled kantha craftspersons... a one-of-a-kind exposition where intricately embellished kantha panels salute stree Shakti, celebrating the power of women. This is in keeping with our ethos to help sustain the intrinsic flavour of the region, part of our initiative of responsible luxury.”

Tanusree Shankar looked graceful in red and white while performing a solo dance to Jaago Durga.
Tanusree Shankar looked graceful in red and white while performing a solo dance to Jaago Durga. Pictures: Koushik Saha

Tanusree Shankar looked graceful in red and white while performing a solo dance to Jaago Durga. “This year during Durga Puja we will be touring Banglaore, Surat and Delhi. We are doing this after many years. So I am looking forward to seeing Durga Puja in different parts of our country,” she said. 

Shamlu Dudeja and Malika Varma played the perfect hosts
Shamlu Dudeja and Malika Varma played the perfect hosts Pictures: Koushik Saha

Shamlu Dudeja and Malika Varma played the perfect hosts. “Agomoni is about welcoming Ma Durga and majority of our panels and my sari are all based on the concept of agomoni because Durga Puja is round the corner. We have done the entire set-up and it is the workmanship of our artisans, the woman of Bengal,” said Shamlu. “It is for the first time we are hosting Agomoni on such a large scale. It is really beautiful that all communities sit together and do these pieces. We always bring together our best pieces for Calcutta and the city has been very supportive towards us. Goddess Durga for all of us means empowerment. My mother has empowered so many other women over the years. I feel it’s related to our motto — each one, reach one, buy a kantha textile and empower a daughter of Bengal. We reach out because it really makes a difference to our girls that their pieces are being sold; the beautiful ladies and men are wearing them. It is a sort of encouragement for them,” added Malika. 

Creativity in clay

A collection of jewellery by interdisciplinary artist Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee was launched at an exhibition on August 31 at Ghosh Bari, Southern Avenue. The collection includes a range of bright-coloured clay, ceramic, mixed media and kantha accessories like neckpieces , earrings and rings. This line of jewellery is an extension of Sujoy’s artistic vision and is designed keeping in mind our cultural and traditional roots with a contemporary touch to it. Minimal in it’s design approach, it can accessorise your day as well as evening wear. Actress Debjani Chattopadhyay’s apparel label

Oi-shey was also a part of the showcase. Snapshots. 

Compiled by author
Compiled by author Pictures: Rashbehari Das