Rural fair provides employment, marketing opportunity to local artisans in India’s Jharkhand.
Besides being colorful and fun events, rural fairs also generate employment. In Mukesh Rajask’s district Deoghar the annual monsoon fair provides the biggest earning opportunity to over 5 thousand of local bamboo artisans. These artisans are otherwise a deprived lot who have no access to a market and earn very little during other times of the year, which is an issue Mukesh had highlighted in one of his earlier videos called Artisans Seek Local Market. To watch that and more of Mukesh’s videos, click here.
The Monsoon fair or Shravani Mela is a month-long event during which Hindu devotees of Lord Shiva come on a pilgrimage to the Baidyanath temple. The devotees follow a ritual of carrying a water pot for pouring on the deity that they balance on a bamboo staff. Since every devotee must carry his own pot of water, the overall demand for bamboo staves shoots up before the fair.
This results in a lot of work for the locals. First, there are staff makers who cut the bamboo and make the staves to sell to retail vendors. The vendors again employ several people whose job is to decorate each staff and make it attractive to a buyer. Finally, there are other businessmen who put up temporary kiosks only to sell staves. They in turn employ local youth to handle sales. Thus, there is a chain of jobs that are generated during the fair.
Now, let us cast a glance at some of the economic status of Deoghar district. It is one of the most underdeveloped districts of India where about 25% of the total population lives below the poverty line. The district also has an average unemployment rate of 16% which is much higher than the national average of 9%. For such a district, traditional events such as the monsoon fair are important earning opportunities.
Mukesh, who is very concerned about the lack of jobs and career opportunities in Jharkhand, feels that the staff makers could benefit more if their craft is officially recognized as a cottage industry. The recognition would help the artisans get more organized. It would also generate more interest and more involvement of locals lead to a greater employment scope.