Pooja Bharati has come to the mela representing Nepal with a number of Pasmhmina products such as shawls, muflers and stoles. It is for the fifth time that she has come to this mela. The response has always been encouraging. These Pashmina products are considered to be expensive with the minimum cost of a mufler being Rs 3500 and the most expensive shawl being Rs 15,000.
Considering how Pashmina products are put together, their price seems worth buying. “These pashmina items are made from the hair of a goat known as Altai goats, which only live at high altitude. As soon as a baby Altai goat is born, within the first 10-15 days of the birth, 2 grams of hair, which is very soft, is plucked from the neck of the goat,” said Pooja. To make one product, one needs at least 50 grams of the hair.
Initially, in her first year of the mela, she had to provide information about the shawls, but things have changed tremendously with people being aware of it, specially of these shawls, which are soft and light weight giving tremendous warmth. She expects her business to do well and is confident that 60% of the products will be sold off easily this year as well.
While some stalls have already started to make good business, like Bangladesh stall, where Faisal Farrukh from Bangladesh is in-charge. They have already started making brisk business, as customers have bought a lot of sarees. He said, “We have brought many Jamdani sarees and Dhaka Silk sarees. Jamdani sarees are considered to be one of the special sarees in Bangladesh. It is an exclusive product from Bangladesh. There can only be a single piece with one unique design throughout the world. You will not get the same design in any other sarees.” These sarees begin retailing at Rs 4000.
While some countries, like Bhutan, which have come in the past for the Surajkund mela, are aware of the demands of the Indian customers, hence they have brought products to cater to Indian people. Bhutan has come up with woven purses, stoles and dupattas made by home-based women skilled workers in Bhutan. Sonam Choden said, “Indian women use stoles as dupattas, Girls also like pouches, so we have come up with these products.” The cost for these purses is Rs 500 and the stoles costs more than Rs. 500 to a maximum of Rs 9000 for silk stoles. But, she faces some problems, “People deem it to be expensive because in India, a purse would cost around Rs. 200, but for us it is the weave, which is a difficlut skill conducted by the home-based workers.”From Afghanistan, Mohammad Ishaq has brought in Afghani carpets of the best quality. He has been a regular in the Surajkund mela for the past four years and loves to conduct business in India, and he has got in touch with carpet buyers. He expects the business to be a successful venture like it has been in the past, and he said, “We have high hopes from this year as well. Most Indian people love quality Afghani carpets with good colours and we have brought according to the demands of the Indian customers. These carpets are hand-made and are famous all over the world.”
He has a word of advice for all those customers or people who love to buy carpets and make their home look beautiful. He said, “Many people when they come to buy carpets look for thicker carpets thinking it to be the best, but in fact, thinner the carpet, the finer it is.” These carpets may not find a place in the Indian market, as it comes at a huge price. For instance, the minimum price for the carpets at Ishaq's stall is Rs. 6000 and the costliest carpet comes with a size of 6 by 9 for Rs 60,000. These carpets are completely made out of wool.
If the carpet stall was attracting huge eye balls, it was surpassed by the response that Sri Lankan stalls were receiving. A number of customers were buying various handicraft products from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan handicraftsmen have been picked by the Sri Lankan government amongst those who won the President's award. This in itself should establish the significance of the mela for the foreign participants.
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