“Sriram, I am here.”
It took me a while to figure out Medhavi’s office. After some initial reluctance I called her to help me with directions.
“Hey there,” I said after noticing a petite girl waving at me from a distance. She led me to her desk alongside a longish glass window with a gorgeous view of the lush vegetation outside.
Medhavi Gandhi, is the founder of Happy Hands Foundation based in Delhi. Her organisation trains youth in traditional craft forms like Dhokra metal sculptures from Jharkhand, Cheriyal scroll paintings from Telengana, Bidri craft from Andhra, Jadupatua paintings from Bengal under the guidance of master craftsmen. After training, these young people make use of the craft works and paintings to tell stories about heritage to school students.
“Traditional art works speak of stories, customs and rituals from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and folk lore. Our children are hardly exposed to any of these stories or these beautiful art forms,” she said.
I was impressed already.
She continued, “we also train artisans to create newer designs, improve their marketing skills and find new customers.”
Before I proceeded, a little rat paid a visit, probably curious to know about her work like me. But the hairy visitor’s sudden arrival got one of her colleagues riled up.
“We are now very excited about our new school programme on the Vijayanagara dynasty where we would get children to learn history through art, craft and puppets,” she said with the excitement of a little girl.
“I would love to start a travelling museum that would travel to our schools to teach children our heritage. Perhaps even an institute where people of all ages can learn these art forms.”
“How do you stay motivated in this lone race?” I ask.
“When I see a handmade craft, I see simplicity, I see grace, a story waiting to be told, an art dying to be promoted and I know there is a large audience waiting to hear these stories,” she replied confidently.