January 2018

Crafting dreams

Art and craft bring people together. Natha’s story is a case in point

Together, Natha and his wife are passing on the tradition of creating Dhokra craft to the next generation

Natha Pidikaka is a Dhokra artisan belonging to Gatiguda village in Muniguda block of Odisha’s Rayagada district. At the age of 59, he is the oldest person in his village. Along with his wife, Natha has been involved in Dhokra craft for many decades now. They have a son and two daughters who are both married.

As a master trainer, he has vast knowledge of the craft. However, owing to limited resources in the village, his business began getting affected. Troubles began when his two son-in-laws went to Kerala in search of work. He wanted them to return to the village, but due to lack of marketing facility and raw materials they decided to explore opportunities elsewhere. Once again, Natha and his wife had the responsibility of managing a family of five. The situation in Gatiguda began improving after Mahashakti Foundation, a partner of the Trusts, intervened and extended support to the villagers. Among finding solutions to the many issues faced by the villagers, the biggest issue of electricity was resolved. “I am glad my son and grandsons can read using the solar light and all our artisans are now working day and night for their orders,” shares Natha. They can now work on large orders, hence significantly increase the income.

The regular orders aroused people’s interest in Dhokra craft. Natha began Dhokra trainings for youth in his village, including his daughters. The situation has gradually improved, and both his son-in-laws have returned and are happily working in their homeland, An elated Natha says, “Our livelihoods have been revived; and there’s nothing better than having the whole family together. My dreams have certainly come true.”

This story has been taken from the SRTT annual report 2016-17.