Amader Haat: A weekly Market with a Difference

11:01 AM

If you go back through the history of Indian freedom movement you will find many a concepts that our leaders wanted to implement. The concept that is very close to my heart is the idea of Gandhiji’s ‘Swadeshi’ or Local Self sufficiency. Where he dreamt of having a free India, a confederation of self reliant, self employed villagers, earning their livelihood by producing goods in the village itself. He wanted to ‘renew India’s vitality and regenerate its culture’ through this system. Though he was able to work on this system at a very small level in his Phoenix ashram in Durban but rest of India never saw this dream. Recently I saw a system working on this concept in a very small and different level. (Before getting further about this weekly market let me give a disclaimer that I did not get any opportunity to talk about this haat with the brains behind it. Whatever I am writing here is what I felt myself, and read and heard from the sellers themselves.)
Amader Haat means our weekly market and the market am going to talk about today is a place where various handmade items, organic vegetables and homemade food items are sold on weekly basis. Unlike any other shops or markets here the producers bring in their weekly produces, which are solely prepared by the sellers and their families. And this market place is acting as a sole mean for most of them to fight poverty. When I was in college I did a dissertation project on the Micro credit model and its implementation to eradicate poverty in rural Bengal. For that I had to visit some villages in rural Birbhum, a district in Bengal. While growing up I visited many villages to meet our relatives but never witnessed such naked side of poverty anywhere. It was a shocking truth for me and gave me many a sleepless nights. I highly suggested some micro credit system for these villagers to the Nationalized Bank through which I visited those places. They already were extending credits through Govt. aided employment generation programmes. But these centrally sponsored projects were clearly not enough and it needed the involvement of non Governmental Organisations too. And this market is the result of some similar thought. Few good-hearted people took the initiative to help the surrounding villagers with appropriate skills, resources and means to enable them to cross the poverty line.  As much as I know there is no direct monetary help to the villagers rather they get ideas, know hows and a market place to sell whatever they produce the whole week.
Only this picture belongs to dip_cool@meercatmafia
Amader haat or Bondanga’r Haat takes place every Saturday in Khoai or the famous stretched valley of undulating laterite land formation dotted with beautiful Sonajhuri trees near Santiniketan Asram. If you go to the place on other days you would not get any sign of this haat as there is nothing to claim about this gathering, not even a poster or hording. Its an open air affair and starts in the afternoon depending upon the heat and the sunrays, sometime at 2:30 if its cloudy or at 4 if its very hot, and stays as long as there is sunlight. The sellers gather from the surrounding villages and seat on the grass under the shade of the sonajhuri trees. The products ranges from various jewelleries made from terracotta, dokra or seeds, Kantha embroidered sarees or artifacts, locally made musical instruments, slate carvings, and wooden artifacts to organically grown vegetables or traditional food items. The sellers use local raw materials and craftsmanship. If you observe closely you will see all the materials used in their products are locally available in abundance together with that they use our traditional craftsmanship of embroidery or woodcarving. But makes it unique is its application. The ideas are new and fresh. For instance these Kashi ghas(a type of grass grown everywhere in and around Santiniketan) baskets and trinket boxes, or these jewelleries made with rice straws. For ages rural women have weaved rice stacks to adorn their houses or to offer to the Goddess but that same weaving style here has been applied to create fashionable jewelleries. This is a very pertinent idea as we Indians have always liked to live in harmony with our surroundings. We have always wanted to live in our birthplace or our homesteads eating homegrown vegetables cooked by our mothers, caring for our surroundings…everything from cattle to the forests and the nature. And this Haat celebrates this harmony in an unique way to revive Indian traditional arts and crafts for a long term survival. After all the spirit and soul of India rests in the rural communities and in Gandhiji’s own words “The true India is to be found not in its few cities, but in its seven hundred thousand villages. If the villages perish, India will perish too."
Baul singers.
Even if you don’t get into all these serious talks or the changes it is bringing, still you cannot miss the serene beauty of this place. Sellers sitting on the grass in the backdrop of lush green paddy field, with their beautiful creations spread in front of them... will definitely take your breadth away. The live Baul songs from the Fakirs, adds to it’s charm. If you like Indian handicraft then this is a place for you to visit. For more information about this place or if you want to visit our Santiniketan don’t hesitate to let me know. I will try to do as much possible… As this is where my heart belongs.

Now am stopping here to let you enjoy the pictures.                                                    

(Please pardon the bad quality of the photographs. We ourselves reached Santiniketan on Saturday afternoon and before going out we discovered the camera battery had discharged. I had to take all the pictures with my Mobile.) 
These are Katum kutum. an idea made famous by Tagore's Elder brother's Son (nephew) Abanindranath Tagore, who was an renowned artist. katum kutums are actually various natural pieces shaped and designer by natural process. very little work in terms of cutting or carvings are done to bring out its beauty. it is said every piece is a ktum kutm but you need to have an artist's eye to find the natural shape and enhance its beauty. 
Some more pieces.
The mother and daughter duo creating bright cushion covers with scrap fabrics.
Bengal's very own Patachitra. they also make beautiful pots with these pictures.
Handmade musical Instruments.
Some more.
and he liked it.
Jeweleries made with Bamboo.
Close up.
Kashi Grass baskets and trays.
Lac Sindoor pot and jeweleries.
Necklace and earrings made with fruit and vegetable seeds.
Rice straw neck pieces and bangles.
Terracotta Jeweleries.
Seed Jeweleries.
Rice Bunch for your prosperity.
Wooden combs and hair pins.
palm leaf fans and toys and thats my little one asking for the whole lot.
Slate Carvings. The pictures are From Tagore's own Illustrations for his Sahaj path (a book for childrens.)
Cute Ganesha in terracotta.
famous Santiniketani Kantha and Batik.
Dokra artifacts.
These two happy faced art students were doing impromptu adorable caricature portraits. Hubby was fascinated with their art and got his and the baby's cartoon made. 
And then there was food 
All Homemade.
Tea to freshen you up.
Homemade Pickles and Jams.
While coming back don't forget to stop and enjoy the soulful baul songs with simple tunes and philosophical lyrics.
Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of the Santiniketan Haat as much as I loved writing this post. Please let me know what you think in the comment section.

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  1. Dear Sayantani
    So nice....I liked it..You are a micro-economist too. The photos are awesome, so is the description...I have roamed the Khoai,,but never knew about the saturday market of Bondanga.
    let me know when r u there next, I will also come..I stay at Ratan palli ( earlier it was school bagan ). Your Boudi's sister is professor in English..I will catch her to take me to Bondanga market ..cant wait to go there ha ha
    have a nice weekend

  2. One of my husband's cousins lives in S'niketan. I have to go there. Ki shundor Haat, S. Fell in love with everything displayed there. Ki ki kinle okhan theke? We Indians should be proud of what we have to offer to the world.

  3. Gal, these pics look so nice..The crafts look beautiful, did you buy anything spl?

    Belated Bday wishes to your mom..May be I am late in sneaking a piece of the cake, but how about sending it to the baking from a book event?

    Hope you are feeling better, DH made any other spl recipes for you?

  4. Sayantani this is a fantastic and fascinating post. I enjoyed the read as well as all the pictures of unique handmade crafts. I have never had a chance to visit this part of Bengal but if I ever manage a visit there, I will surely check this place out.

  5. Thank you for this lovely post! All the best to our artisans, and may there be many haats in every corner of the country! :) I love our vibrant heritage!

  6. Amar aar amader haat dekha hoeni..ami shunechhilam..kintu aar giye itha hoeni..dekha jak next time kina..tor lekha ta pore khub bhalo laglo..darun chhobi guo hoechhe..mon ta kharap hoe galo..mone ekhuni chhute chole jai...

  7. Such a lovely haat! I love the terracota ganeshas and the bamboo jewellery

  8. Wow, what a post and such real to life pics.Loved it to the core. I liked the ganesha idols and the pics of bangla craftsmen.
    Would look forward to more of such posts from you!
    Sinfully Spicy

  9. Such a beautiful haat, thanks for the visual everything but specially like jewellery & paintings...

  10. Pics are so nice, and some interesting stuffs too in the market,thanks for sharing it with me sayanthani...

  11. Sayantani,

    Lovely lovely post!!! Seriously eto shundor bhabe tumi visual trip e niye gele...darun laglo....I've been to Shantiniketan long long ago....when I was 5 or 6 yrs old maybe...

    I enjoyed this read and also the fantastic photos. Great work indeed!

    My Saffron Kitchen

  12. loved this post Sayantani !!!
    I love haats and here all i can get is dilli haat , it's such a relief from any other market place of an urban jungle.

    I so want to go there right now...i have seen similar products on sale in many haats and fairs around Dhanbad where i have been for a few years . I have been involved in arranging one such tribal art n craft fair in our campus there....i love their bamboo work , the terracotta jewelery and Jamini Roy inspired pattachitras....

    This haat must have been heaven in serene surroundings...

  13. Dear Sayantani,
    This is a fantastic post! For me, too, one of the great thing about blogging is to discover details about other cultures, places,(and, of course, food...)
    Your post is so interesting!If only more people would realize that buying local (at all levels) in not only good for the economy of the country, but it is also empowering its people.
    I can't wait to go visit this market, the next time we'll be around Kolkatta :-)
    Looking forward to the next post!

  14. This is a lovely post...beautiful handicrafts. Going to a Haat has a total different effect...natural.
    Nice to read and see something different...the photos speak...

  15. Sayanatani,

    darun post.I just fell in love with everything here..ami eyikhane gele bodhaye shob kicho kine feltaam..tumi ki ki nile..lovely post and thank you for taking us to this virtual tour.

  16. Wow thats quite an elaborate sure u found some interesting things

  17. Nice post and nice pictures .If I were there ,I am sure to come back with a bunch of those bamboo necklaces and terracotta dolls .They all look so lovely.

  18. That is a wonderful initiative taken by the locals to promote local economy. The pictures and the write up is excellent. Wish i could go somewhere like that.

    Oder bikri etc. kemon hoy ? Oi je ghaas er baksho gulo, oi rokom ami Ikea theke kinechi !!!

  19. Wonderful..Wish I could go there sometimes. Though I have been to Calcutta once couldn't visit Shantiniketan :( thanks for these bautiful pics

  20. amra shantiniketan er poush mela te jetam. I remember buying loads of the rustic jewelry and terracotta things. I still have one small ganesh after so many years.

    This is a very beautiful post and hopefully one day I can take my kids to experience something like this when I am in india.

  21. This post proves again that Indian culture is so rich and diversified and we all are super skilled. Look at the art work, mind blowing. Fact is they were made with pretty much less or no modern resources. I wish more of such local markets come up in all regions of India. It is our chance to appreciate the farmers and the local artisans of our country. Thanks so much for writing this post Sayantani, I am sharing this post on FB/twitter. Have a good weekend.

  22. The pictures are so beautiful and the handmade crafts are simply marvellous. A great post!

  23. Thanks dear, for taking us there through your post and pics....I always prefer market places like this than the super markets..I felt almost there through your post... very fascinating!
    love the ganesha statue and the bamboo jewellery !

    US Masala

  24. thanks everyone fro liking and appreciating this. I found this haat very fascinating and loved sharing this with you.
    @Ushnishda, I wanted to study rural management but dint get through the entrance exam of IRMA and finally studied fashion designing and management. funny but that life. ami abar Jan e jabo. oi somoye jodi asen ami nije sab ghurie dekhie debo.

    @Pree, come there sometimes Pree. bhalo lagbe khub. ami anek kichu kinechi aar akhono gele anek kichu kine ani. darao samoy kore oi niyeo akta post korbo.

    @Ruchika, thanks girl. will update the post.

    @Usha, GB, thanks am too fascinated with our handicraft culture to think anything else. I dream to work with this heritage of ours.

    @Silence sings, haan tui jakhan chili takhon ei mela chilo na. samay kore ese akbar dekhe jas.

  25. @Somoo, Tanvi, thanks will try to some similar things in future.

    @sushma, spice, thanks girls, glad that you like it.

    @Arundhuti, thanks am happy that it touched so many of my great blogger friends.

    @Sangeeta, yes you are true. actually these sectors is highly unorganised. and they need someone like you to help them out.

    @Venessa, do you come to Kolkata? if yes next time plan to visit santiniketan. you will love it for sure.

  26. @Gouridi, Jaya, an open book,padhu, Gulmohor thanks dearies.

    @Sandeepa, Soma, next time you are in Kolkata plan a visit. the girls would be elated to find such lush green fields.

    @Rachna, thanks girl for doing this extra bit and pointing it in FB and twitter.ore people will know about this initiative of our craftsmen.

    @Rachana, Aipi...glad that you like it.

  27. amar shantiniketan jawar khub icche ... tomar post ta amar guide hobe ... of course tomake o consult korbo kokhono plan holey ... darun, darun post ar lekha sayantani.

  28. Hi Sayantani,
    Fantastic lekh ar shundor chobi! What a homely feel this post offers....well done. I landed straight in the lands of dhono, dhanye, pushpe bhora....!! Handicrafts ke bare me kya kahe...I would have loved visiting such a haat! Did you buy any of the artifacts?

  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  30. loved the handmade baskets and musical instruments...
    this is a must visit place..
    Thanks for sharing about this Haat!

  31. @Anon, dhanyobad, ami likhte cheyechilam elder brother's son ar sange wikipedia'r link o dite cheyechilam kintu bodhay link dite gieyi ota konobhabe delete hoe geche. anek dhanyobad kono bhabe bhul information baire jak seta amio chaina.

  32. Happy Ganesha Chaturthi to you and your family. Hope Lord Ganesha brings happiness and peace in your life.
    Very nice and lovely post. I liked all the pictures and vibrant heritage.

  33. Dear Sayantani

    Loved the photos of hat in Santiniketan. Loved the handicrafts. during my next visit to Kolkata in Winter, I would definitely try to visit this hat.
    Hamaree Rasoi

  34. Thanks for sharing those lovely pics..Ganesh idols looks very cute :)

  35. WOW!!! so lively!
    I miss such rural haats here in Mumbai..
    khoob bhalo ache :)

  36. Hey Sayantani,

    I came to your blog from Kamini's. I have worked in micro-finance too. And reading your post was lovely!

  37. now this is what i was looking for and asking ...keep the cal posts coming ..

  38. Hi Sayantani,

    A true feast for the eyes. Incidentally I am Sayantani too born and brought up in Salt Lake,Kolkata. As I surfed through the colourful pictures I walked down my memory lane and became very nostalgic. I wonder where do we buy these stuff in Mumbai as I am a permanent resident of this commercial capital of India.

  39. wow...the wares are amazing! I would buy a bit of everything. If only I could find stuff like that here. Would love to go shopping in this outdoors bazaar! I'm jealous!

  40. Hi Sayantani,

    Even though i happen to be a stranger, I am just another woman like you and it's incidental that i make films. By a pleasant chance I happened to come across your blog and simply loved it. I loved it because of what you wrote about yourself and may be because of many other things. I enjoy painting cooking and writing, therefore the wonderful food fotos in your blog attracted me. I stay in Kolkata but hopelessly in love with Shantiniketan. Very soon i plan to have a mud hut in the outskirts. Would like to know you and your works(also recipes) better :)

    warm regards,

  41. Can you give some idea about how to reach this place from Park Circus ? Wonderful pics and amazing write up.

  42. @Neeraja, first you have to reach Santiniketan.
    This weekly market takes place only for a few hours on every Saturday. Take the route towards sonajhuri through shyambati. All rikshaw walas are very accustomed with this plcae. they will guide you or if you are using your own vehicle then just ask anyone after reaching sonajhuri.

  43. ekta gaaner line khub mone holo..
    "phire chal maatir taane"..

  44. Amazing..... I've never seen such a kind of weekly bazar in the laps of nature.... It truly is lovely... I have no words to praise it ... Thanks a lot for sharing this....Wish I could visit one someday...

  45. hello just absolutely loved your blog and pictures of the haat.i run an art and environment shop and studio in delhi called people tree.and i very much wanted to put a link to your really beautiful blog?may i?also was keen on knowing where i can source some of the seed necklaces that are available at the email i.d. is regards gurpreet

  46. Wonderful blog. I am very much interested in seed jewellery. Is there any NGO working with people or do you know of any place where I can buy them. I am from bangalore. Email

  47. nice collection dear, loved your garden.....and your recipe too.

  48. adharshila.learningcentre@gmail.comJanuary 27, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    nice post. we are a non profit working for the education of adivasi children in madhya pradesh. we want to use a photograph of amader haat from your blog in a calender on weekly markets. hope you will permit. of course we will give you credit.
    also can you send the id of the people who orgaize this haat.
    jayashree and amit

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  51. Shivangi PramanikMarch 11, 2013 at 4:23 AM

    its AWESOME !!! I'm adding this place to my list when i come visiting bengal in july.... asap.....thanks a ton for such insightful information dear stranger :) i'm going to come back to delhi with a rucksack full of wonders of this place :)

  52. Very good photo coverage. Thanks for sharing them.


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