Breaking the Shackles of Oppression with Colourful Caravan of Hope!!!
Married at a tender age of 16 years, Afreen’s life was never easy. Born in a family of 8 people, she was eldest amongst her 5 siblings. She never went to school as it was an unaffordable luxury for her. She was pushed into early marriage and situations became even worse when she had gone through the heartbreak of broken relationship in her teenage. She was back at her parent’s home and was barely allowed to a step out of her house. Everything turned grey for her. Afreen, being a strong girl never let herself down even in those tough circumstances. She decided to take Chikankari with the intention of supporting herself. She learnt all the traditional stitches with full dedication and started working in a cluster for her livelihood. Now after 7 years, Afreen is not just leading a good life but she had started promoting girls like her by providing them free training of this precious art form and offering them work opportunities as well. Chikankari played a pivotal role in giving right shape to the inspirational story of Afreen.
-‘Chikankari is not just about designing clothes, now it’s more like designing lives.’
This is not just a single story. One can find thousands of girls like Afreen who have taken up Chikankari to stand on their own feet. Everyone has its own story. Every story is unique but one thing remains same that is the contribution of Chikan industry in giving an up-thrust to the lives of these women. Isn’t it wonderful? How Chikankari industry is enlightening the life of women by creating a positive change in the social and economic conditions of these women artisans.
In this era of high technology, where our choices are changing with the dot-com speed, it’s amazing to know that some people are still working with full zeal and at their own pace to save the grandeur and regalia of this traditional art form of Lucknow. Currently, a good number of organisations are working to spread hope and opportunities for these artisans.
Ada Designer Chikan Studio is one such organisation that is working passionately to give a new dimension to this centuries old style of embroidery in the arena of global fashion. The concept behind the establishment of Ada Designer Chikan Studio was all about creating stories of change and transformation in the lives of deprived segment of the society especially the women of the families by making them trained artisans. They serve their contribution in women empowerment by giving employment to the women artisan and help them in leading a dignified life.
But their responsibility doesn’t end here. Ada has also taken the initiative to connect the work of these artisans to the global market through their e-store. Every year, a number of Chikan exhibitions are organised on the national and international level to showcase the outstanding hand embroidered Chikan outfits in order to promote the artisans and the legendary art of Chikankari.
- “If you are working with artisans, as a designer, your job is not complete until you enhance the life of artisan” –Rajeev Sethi : Indian Design, Padma Bhushan awardee
So, we can conclude that purchasing a Chikan dress is not just about enriching the style quotient but it’s more like giving a tribute to all those artisans who have worked day and night with their nimble fingers to create a masterpiece of unmatchable quality. A big Salute to these artisans- The Real Gems of India!!!
- By Shagufa Sheikh