Srinagar, April 24: Braving all odds, a 29-year-old woman from Kashmir has taken up the daunting task to revive the once-famed handicraft numdha, the traditional embroidered rug which has over the years lost its sheen.
Arifa Jan, belonging to a not-so-literate family in the summer capital here, followed her heart and pursued her dream of becoming a businesswoman, in the process working on the revival of numdha . "I had no interest in a government job.
I always wanted to have my own business.But in Kashmir it is very difficult to setup a business especially for a woman," Arifa said here.
After her Bachelor's degree in commerce from Kashmir University here, Arifa's friend at Jammu and Kashmir government's then newly setup Craft Development Institute (CDI) counselled her to take up a two-year Craft Management and Entrepreneurial Leadership programme. Even as she enrolled herself, Arifa could not afford to pay her fee.
However, after seeing her talent, determination and zeal, CDI facilitated a grant for her provided by the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, which took care of her training. Since then, there was no looking back for her.
During the two-year course, Arifa also went to Kyrgyzstan for specialised training. It was at the end of this programme that Arifa took as a challenge the daunting task of reviving the dying craft. "I had to present a master project at the end of the degree and I choose to present the business plan for revival of numdha - Kashmir's indigenous craft," she said.
Numdha is a traditional felted Kashmir carpet, made by rolling and pressing wool by the application of moisture.
Until some years, Kashmiri drawing rooms were furnished with numdhas in winters. There was once a huge local as well as national demand and the handicraft had a good export market. However, the demand died down and exports declined in the past more than a decade.
Arifa then decided to turn her project into a full-fledged venture and in the process help in reviving the craft by giving artisans their due. "I did some research and found out that lack of quality has led to reduction in its demand especially in foreign markets.
So, I decided to explore ways to blend the traditional craft with modern innovations to suit it especially for the present-day modern market," she said.