Article by Preeta Dutta. Founder & CEO, MiradorLife
Lockdown in India, and after a week pictures emerge of beautiful pristine Indian cities and towns. Birds we’ve never seen are now showing up in our cities, and most importantly pollution levels are at an all time low. The message of how the earth is healing and breathing is seen everywhere. It took a deadly virus for us to sit back and realize how much devastation we have caused to our planet.
Here’s an interesting little story of a small village in rural Assam, which started a movement many years back, yes way before the lockdown. A movement of conservation, which resulted in creation of local employment, beautiful crafts and changed the mindset for many villagers in rural Assam
The Greater Adjutant is a large, ungainly looking stork. A giant bird, which many consider a pest, is an endangered species with only about a 1000 to 1200 left in the world. This bird is omnivorous by nature and will feed on rats and rodents but is largely a scavenger, their main diet being carrion. It would eat the waste of cremated dead lying by the river and hence in Assam the bird is known as the Hargila or the bone swallowers.
In rural villages of Assam the bird was despised and considered a large ugly pest and a bad omen. It was the mission and journey of a then young PhD Student Poornima Deb Burman that converted this bird from a pest to a symbol of pride and women empowerment.
Dr Poornima Barman mobilized a large number of women and explained to them the importance of these birds and started what was called the “hargila army.” Today they are more than 400 women who are members of this army. They help rehabilitate injured storks, create awareness and weave motifs of hargils in traditional Assamese Gamcha towels and mekhela chadors. The local district administration has also supported her and the team by providing them back up support of transport, nets and looms for the women to weave.
“When I began conservation work in the colony (Dadara and Pacharia villages), there were about 28 nests. In 2019, we have about 200 nests in the same colony. This colony contains the highest concentration of Hargilas in the world,” says Purnima. She won the Green Oscar in 2017 but her journey is not about just a bird it is also about empowerment of women.
Sustainability, handicrafts and environment have always gone hand in hand and now it concerns not only our planet but our health as well. Conservation and employment are not necessarily at opposite spectrums as many believe. Instead they can both come together symbiotically especially at the rural level.
Thanks to Covid19, my multiple woven baskets have been used for god knows how many items especially in the kitchen. It is way safer and of course eco-friendlier than that cheaper Chinese plastic basket. My old Kansa and copper bowls have been kept in strategic places to keep keys and items as copper surfaces kill germs the fastest. The traditional copper jug and terracotta bottle has replaced the glass bottles and steel bottles. And we in India had used these for years.
As we continue with lockdown, it’s really a time to rethink and revive some of our time tested old traditions and move to natural elements in our homes as much as possible. The hallmark of every contemporary home should be to seamlessly allow nature in and not just by way of plants but also through each and every piece of furniture, artifact or even your utility elements.
It’s about time we give back to mother earth in simple ways one step at a time.
Share your thoughts by writing in below.
STAY SAFE & STAY LOVED.
FOR MORE THEMATIC AND CUSTOM FURNITURE DESIGN IDEAS,
Book your free consultation hereCONTACT US →