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Shrujan: Preserving The Glorious Heritage Of Kutch

Not for profit firm accumulated all the elements in one place to preserve the intricate and glorious craft heritage of Kutch through its Living and learning Design Centre

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Kutch, one of the districts in the Indian state of Gujrat, is filled with mammoth of talent in hand embroideries, and never ended salt desert.  Beautiful scenery with the ocean on one side and salt desert in another give the culturally rich district a uniqueness. The district is home to many people from Central Asia and other parts of Asia. These migrants brought a pool of talent in craft and embroidery from the traditions of Persia, Central Asia and Turkey.
It was almost on the verge of extinction when Chanda Shroff, Founder, Shrujan, who is also famous as Kaki among the artists, realized the value of their work during her visit to Dhaneti village in Kutch to help in drought relief work. And Shrujan was built to support, preserve and promote the glorious heritage of Kutch.

How It Started
In 1969, Kutch experienced the severe drought, when Kaki, founder of Shrujan, came with Rama Krishna Mission to aid drought relief exertions. When she reached the Dhaneti village to serve people, it was surprising for her that no one from the Ahir community was ready to accept the help. Instead, they were agreed to do a barter.  There she saw, in the exquisite hand embroidery displayed on the clothing of the village women, a way to enable them to earn a sustainable and dignified livelihood. Later that year, she founded Shrujan.

Long before the term ‘social entrepreneur’ became part of everyday discourse, Chanda Shroff had quietly and almost single-handedly initiated what was to become a grassroots movement of rural craftswomen across Kutch. Chanda Shroff’s vision has also helped revitalize and safeguard the ancient craft of hand embroidery.

Art And Communities
Shrujan is home to different communities' art across Kutch and nearby Banaskantha contribute their skills to the not for profit organization. These communities are Ahir, Meghwaad Gurjar, Rabaari, Mochi, Sodha, Jadeja, Meghwaad Maaru, Jat, Mutva, Haalepotra, Meghwaad Maarwaada, and Raau Node.

Each community has a distinct embroidery style. Many communities practise more than one embroidery style; even different subgroups within a community may have different styles.

In 2016, Shrujan was opened Living and Learning Design Centre (LLDC) to preserve the intricate and glorious craft heritage of Kutch.
Dedicated to the craftspeople of Kutch, LLDC is envisioned as a multi-dimensional crafts education and resource centre. It is situated on a three-building, eight-acre campus in Ajrakhpur, Kutch.

LLDC aims to train, educate and support crafts persons to practise their traditional crafts for contemporary markets so that they can earn a dignified and prosperous livelihood.
Serving for last 49 years, Shrujan Trust recently held its second craft festival, in the LLDC campus, to further its motive of preserving the rich history of craft and embroidery tradition of around 12 different communities of Kutch.
In its 2nd year, the not for profit firm, in collaboration with North East Zone Cultural Centre (Dimapur) and West Zone Cultural Centre (Udaipur) organized LLDC Folk Festival 2019 – NAMASTE.
Ami Shroff, Managing Trustee, Shrujan said “The collaboration with NAMASTE is one glimpse of how rich and varied the culture of North East India is and this is our small effort to appreciate them. We hope to work with them in future too and try to build one common platform to showcase the talent from all over India in the years to come’’ Five-day long festival was designed to reach out to a larger audience and showcase the unique work that emerges from both these regions.
Through the festival, Shrujan-LLDC aims to promote the diverse crafts and culture of not only Kutch but various parts of India.
Stalls of the crafts, Musical performances & Folk dances of Kutch & North-East region were a part of the folk festival. The festival also included a visit to the LLDC Museum Gallery, Craft Demonstrations, Hands-On Craft, Puppet Show / Kutchi Ghodi Dance, Kids Corner (Game Zone), Fossils Exhibition. The cuisines from both the regions added further flavor to the event.

Visitors also got a chance to enjoy a visit to the Crafts Museum Gallery where the current showing is “Living Embroideries of Kutch”. Patrons could even try their hand at some block printing, lacquer work, leather work, mud art and pottery at the hands-on gallery at the LLDC campus.