BUDGAM: A group of specially-abled artisans in the Gotapora village of central Kashmir's Budgam region are weaving magic with their weaving talents. These artisans beautify traditional Kashmiri items with various motifs, patterns, and deft hand work.
This group of specially-abled artisans is commonly known as the "Special Hands of Kashmir," The ingrown skills have not only helped to promote the Kashmiri arts and crafts on national and international stage but also provided a source of income for them in their own hometown.
Doing different kinds of Sozni work (needle work embroidery) on shawls and other similar stuff has not only given their skill an identity across other states of the country but also made them financially independent to earn a livelihood in a much dignified way.
Tariq Ahmad Mir, one of the specially abled Aristans and founder of the 'Hands of Kashmir' Group told Rising Kashmir that when the disability act was implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, the specifically abled persons were not availing proper benefits and rights as per the act.
"In the year 2010, we started the group titled Special Hands of Kashmir. Initially 15 specially abled persons from various villages of the Budgam district came up with a groupSozni work artisans, providing them a source of employment," Mir said.
He said after starting the group, the female artisans who were specially abled also started working under the same group. On knowing about the meager financial conditions of these persons, the families of these artisans also joined .
"Presently, we have 200 aristans, with 38 specially abled that are working under the group of special hands of Kashmir.The rest of the artisans are their family members and belong to financially weaker sections ," Mir said.
He said that all the artisans working in the group are doing Sozni work. Mir said that the work done by the artisans was not only sold outside Kashmir but also showcased at exhibitions at other states of India including Mumbai, Delhi etc.
"We sell these handmade Sozni shawls and stoles outside Jammu and Kashmir." We also erect our stalls in various exhibitions at Mumbai, Haryana, and Delhi through the department of handicrafts and handloom of Jammu and Kashmir and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
" We receive a huge positive response during these exhibitions where in these shawls and stoles made by special hands are exhibited," he said
"This magical art by these artisans is a source of livelihood to them apart from promoting Kashmiri art in other Indian states." Mir added.
"Before joining the group the financial position of these artisans was very weak. After they joined the group, they learned this art work from other members. Presently these Specially-abled artisans are also training their family members with the help of this group," Mir added.
"The main motive of this group is to provide a source of employment to the specially abled persons and their families. At present the demand for our shawls and stoles high in the markets. We are receiving good feedback from the people.All these artisans are satisfied. They working day and night to fulfil their dreams and needs with the help of this group," Mir said.