GHUM FESTIVAL HANDICRAFT FAIR– AN INSIGHT INTO DARJEELING'S ETHNIC CULTURE

Darjeeling is home to a variety of ethnic groups, each having its own identity, art, and culture. As a result, Darjeeling's handicrafts do not follow a standard pattern; rather, they showcase the abilities of several groups of artisans. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that no school of art can exist in isolation in this modern era when communication has broken down all barriers. As a result, despite each school's best efforts to maintain its uniqueness, the border between them has become increasingly blurred. Ghum festival handicraft fair was an opportunity to explore the multi-cultured side of Darjeeling’s ethnicity. This blog will showcase the various handicrafts displayed at the Ghum festival handicraft fair.



HANDICRAFTS OF THE GORKHAS

The Gorkhas took their art and culture from Nepal with them when they first arrived in Darjeeling in the mid-nineteenth century. This Himalayan country has a great history of handcraft and art. These handicrafts, however, did not become works of art until the fifth century AD. Different organised faiths began to make advances into Nepal's interior during this period. As a result, religious influences can be found in the country's handicrafts.Religion has always been a deciding role in Gorkhali handicrafts. That is why the artists of Darjeeling create statues of Lord Buddha as well as other gods and goddesses. Such patterns can also be seen in paintings. Work on secular subjects is just as vital. Ghum festival handicraft fair exhibited both metal and non-metal Gorkha handicrafts.

METAL HANDICRAFTS

Statues play an important role in this area. The majority of statues at the Ghum festival handicraft fair were constructed of brass. Aside from it, silver and brass jewellery such as earrings, pendants, brooches, and chains were also there. Another prominent Gorkhali handcraft sold at Ghum festival handicraft fair was traditional Nepali Khurki.

NON-METAL HANDICRAFTS

Woodcraft and textile are examples of non-metal handicrafts. Ghum festival handicraft fair soldtraditional textile-related crafts. A form of waterproof blanket imported from Nepal is mentioned in Kautilya's Artha Shastra. Although such crafts are no longer practised, the stalls at Ghum festival handicraft fair displayed bamboo related textile products

HANDICRAFT OF THE TIBETANS

When the Tibetan exiles arrived in Darjeeling, they were unable to bring much of their goods with them. They could only bring a rich legacy and a willingness to establish themselves in the host country with them. It is their determination to work hard and their ability to make a variety of handicrafts that has allowed them to establish a foothold in such a foreign land in such a short period.

METAL HANDICRAFTS

Metal handicrafts created by Tibetan artisans and put up at the stalls of Ghum festival handicraft fair were of exceptional quality. These works of art were decorative and ritualistic. Hundreds of statues, colourful kettles, prayer wheels, and other items were also found on the shelves of the various stalls. Different sorts of stone-encrusted jewellerieswere alsoexhibited.

NON-METAL HANDICRAFTS

Carpets made up a significant portion of Ghum festival handicraft fair. Tibetan carpets made of pure wool and natural dye which are prized not only for their quality but also for their designs all over the world were sold. Other things which were sold at Ghum festival handicraft fair include woodwork, masks, scrolls, shawls, and scarves.
Another distinguishing Tibetan art form is Thangka or Thanka painting, which depicts Buddhist subjects. This art form originated in Nepal in the 11th century. The Tibetans later imported it, and it quickly became a significant teaching instrument for the Lamas as they travelled from place to place preaching Buddhism to the populace. Thangkas are also employed as a means of worship and prayer. Because these are mounted first with fabric and subsequently with silk, they survive a long time and are therefore well worth the money. The stalls at Ghum festival handicraft fair found themselves selling loads of thangkas to people who flocked to the fest.

LEPCHA HANDICRAFT

Unfortunately, Gorkhali and Tibetan handicrafts have eclipsed Lepcha handicrafts. Despite this, Ghum festival handicraft fair promoted Lepcha handicrafts. Lepcha craftsmen's dresses, caps, and jewellery, needlework, and bamboo work were sold.
Darjeeling’s culture is distinctively portrayed in the exquisite handicrafts which have striking similarities to the art of Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan as noted above.Ghum festival handicraft fair displayed and sold ornaments, souvenirs, handlooms,handbags, wall panels, fire-screens, folding partitions, Bhutan paintings, cotton shoulder-bags, woodwork, bamboo fretwork, blankets, woollen knitted clothes, and woven materials, beautiful curios on copper plates encrusted with red and blue stones and engraved with deity copies, woollen carpets, Bhutia chaddars, hanzu coats, tankas, and Nepali khukris. In short, Ghum festival handicraft fair was an event to be remembered.