Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |   Volume 6, Issue 38, Tuesday, September 27, 2011



"Kumudini handicrafts"

a journey through time

Back in the early eighties, when the boutique culture of Dhaka was still in its infancy, Kumudini treaded the fashion scene with confidence, class and glamour. Kumudini Handicrafts Centre was established in 1978 with the objective of supporting the fine art and traditional cottage industries of Bangladesh. Kumudini Handicrafts embarked on the development of high quality handicrafts for local markets as well as for export to the international market, among which the UK and Japan are prominent examples.

With the establishment of this project Kumudini played a special role in mobilising the potential and creative capacity of a large number of women and contributing towards the goal of greater participation of women in development. This goal has been very successful, evidenced in the fact that 20,000 Bangladeshi women are directly or indirectly involved in the project.

The large numbers of women who are the beneficiaries of the project are not directly organised by Kumudini Handicrafts. Their forte lies in their unique products in cotton, silk and their hallmark lies in the use of vivid, vegetable dyes.

They are also renowned for their Nakshi Kantha quilts, eloquent jamdanis, wood, leather, cane and other indigenous products. Kumudini are now the only mainstream producers of the traditional 'geela' panjabis, with their sleeves bearing a crushed look.

Kumudini has been a name associated with local traditions and garbs. They have over the many decades played a significant role in the revival of deshi attires and fabrics. This Durga Puja, Kumudini Handicraft Centre presents their collection in cotton, half silk, endi silk, and muslin. Exquisite block and hand embroidery adds specialty to their shalwar kameez sets, kurtas, shirts and children's wear.

So, to celebrate this very Bengali festival, Kumudini is the place to go to pick out attires that will bring out the Bangladeshi in you.

Address: 74 Gulshan Avenue

-- LS Desk

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Isha


Altar of exuberance

"More are the names of God and infinite are the forms through which He may be approached. In whatever name and form you worship Him, through them you will realise Him" said Lord Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, one of the supreme gods in Hinduism.

Thanks to the contributions of Indian soap operas that flood our TV channels, almost every housewife in our country is now aware of the vast array of customs practised in Hindu homes (unless they were Hindu to begin with). But to all those who have ever wondered about the fascinating customs of Hinduism, and asked themselves--”All that festivity! All the rituals! All the singing! What is it really about?” Please, allow me to enlighten you on one of the oldest living major religions in the world!

You see, Hinduism has many practices and philosophies and includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on the notion of karma, dharma, and societal norms and customs. Hinduism grants a great degree of freedom of belief and worship.

The home is the place where most Hindus conduct their daily worship and religious rituals. The most important times of day for performance of household rituals are dawn and dusk, although especially devout families may engage in devotion more often.

For many households, the day begins when the women in the house draw auspicious geometric designs in chalk or rice flour on the floor or the doorstep. For orthodox Hindus, dawn and dusk are greeted with recitation from the Rig Veda of the Gayatri Mantra for the sun -- for many people, the only Sanskrit prayer they know.

Most devotees are therefore polytheists, worshiping all or part of the vast pantheon of deities, some of whom have come down from ancient times. In practice, a worshiper tends to concentrate prayers on one deity or on a small group of deities with whom there is a close personal relationship.

Each deity is an embodiment of certain traits and qualities, for example, 'Lakshmi' is the goddess of light, beauty, fortune and fertility, while 'Ganesha' is the god of intellect, wisdom and prosperity. These deities are worshiped so that the they may favour their followers with their traits, and usually more than one deity is kept in the household.

Puja (worship) of the gods consists of a range of ritual offerings and prayers typically performed either daily or on special days before an image of the deity, which may be in the form of a person or a symbol of the sacred presence. In its more developed forms, Puja consists of a series of ritual stages beginning with personal purification and invocation of the god, followed by offerings of flowers, food, or other objects such as clothing, accompanied by fervent prayers.

It is important to understand that Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, monism, atheism, agnosticism and gnosticism among others; and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. Perhaps even the worshipers themselves cannot say why they host the icons of their gods and goddesses in their abodes. It is entirely a matter of faith. And perhaps that is why the whole thing seems so mystical and beautiful, even through the monotony of Indian melodrama.

By Apon Zahir


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