Beyond the Palace: creating new approaches, empowering artisans design a new paradigm

Beyond the Palace:

creating new approaches, empowering artisans design a new paradigm
Discover the journey and the museum memories of these women entrepreneurs who are preserving India’s rich cultural heritage and making it accessible

Through ‘Beyond the Palace: creating new approaches’ series, VarnikaDesigns is immensely honoured to bring to you a set of 5 video interviews with 6 amazing women entrepreneurs from the erstwhile royal families of India. We asked them how they are empowering artisans design a new paradigm, their future plans, how they extend their family’s royal legacy and preserve heritage through social media and how they are making their family’s and India’s culture accessible and inclusive. Follow us on the VarnikaDesigns Instagram profile from November 26 – 29, 2021 for their stories.This series is to help promote the unique fundraiser auction ‘India for Artisans’ by 200 M Artisans, CD and StoryLtd to raise money for India’s artisans to be held online on 30th November, 2021, 8AM – 8PM IST for which VarnikaDesigns is a Cause partner.

State                    Personality

Sawantwadi:   Ranisaheb Shubhadadevi Bhonsle and Yuvrani  Shraddharaje Bhonsle

Vadodara:         H.H. Maharani Radhikaraje Gaekwad

Bhavnagar:     Princess Brijeshwari Gohil

Dhenkanel:     Yuvrajkumari Jema Yashasvini Kumari Devi

Mayurbhanj:   Jema Akshita M Bhanj Deo

Brijeshwari Gohil: Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
Born into the erstwhile royal family of Bhavnagar, Gujarat, Brijeshwari Gohil has been interested in the field of heritage from childhood. She started the Bhavnagar Heritage Preservation Society, an organisation that works towards the preservation, protection and promotion of Bhavnagar’s heritage
Brijeshwari strongly believes that the entire society is crucial to the existence and survival for a craft. She would like everyone to visit them to fully appreciate their efforts and not just purchase online and be done with it. She is currently setting up the Bhavnagar INTACH Chapter.

Yashasvini is from the erstwhile royal family of Dhenkanal in Orissa. She chose to study History and Philosophy of Art so that she could return to her ancestral home to preserve the region’s cultural heritage. As a museum associate at the Kala Bhoomi-0disha Crafts Museum, Bhubaneswar, she helped make the Sri Jagannath Sanskriti Gallery.

Yashasvini narrates to us her experiences working with the Dokra artisans, creating ergonomic working conditions for. them, designing new products and connecting them and other craft clusters to school and college students She is documenting her family’s heritage and reveals the Subhas Chandra Bose connection!

Shubhadadevi and Shraddharaje Bhonsle, Sawantwadi, Maharashtra. This dynamic mother & daughter in-law duo are preserving Sawantwadi Lacquerware and converting a part of the palace into a boutique hotel inspired by Ganjifa cards. They share with us their several plans of how they are seamlessly blending the traditional with a contemporary global audience. Shubhadadevi is an interior designer from Rachna Sansad Academy of Architecture and began her journey with Ganjifa cards in 1984. Shraddha is a culinary chef and certified Sommelier. Together they are ushering in a new dimension to Sawantwadi and planning to turn it into an arts and crafts destination.

Radhikaraje Gaekwad, Vadodara, Gujarat. Radhikaraje is a champion of the preservation of India’s cultural heritage. She is the Vice President Maharani Chimnabai Stree Udyogalaya, Trustee Maharaja Fatesingh Museum, Director CDS Art Foundation and has presented her research on Gaekwad jewels, textiles and culture on global platforms. A Masters in medieval Indian history, she has received the prestigious Aspen Global Leadership Fellowship and loves writing for leading dailies and magazines. Radhikaraje shares with us what triggers her to actively fight for the underprivileged and the marginalised, how she loves her work and embraces challenges. In August 2021, she organised a uniquely curated  and hugely successful artisanal fair called ‘Urja’ and raised nearly 35 lakhs for the lockdown affected artisans! She is also busy reviving the lost old weaving techniques of Chanderi and Baroda Shalu. Don’t miss her advice for young women!

Akshita Bhanja DeoMayurbhang, Orissa
Akshita belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Mayubhanj, Orissa. She was a Davis scholar at the Bard College, US, and pursued Political Science and Human Rights concentrating on Media in conflict areas. She has worked with the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid organisation focusing on the Syrian refugee crisis.
As Director of the 200-year-old Belgadia Palace, Akshita and her family is attempting to create sustainable tourism with social impact at its core at the region dominated by indigenous people.  As Creative Director, Karkhana Chronicles, she blended sustainability+ heritage craft by highlighting artisan clusters via contemporary patronage.

Thank you Priya and the entire 200 Million Artisans team, special thanks to Shailja, Aparna, Jashaswi and Anshu Arora. VarnikaDesigns is a cause partner.

“200M presents a one-of-a-kind auction fundraiser in partnership with Creative Dignity & StoryLtd to help India’s artisan communities get back on their feet. November 30th 8AM – 8PM. Check out the link for more info, see the catalogue, and spread the word!”

Thank you Madhulika Deshpande and Deeptanshu Sanyal, for designing the creatives for this series.

Thank you Manju Ramanan for introducing me to Priya Krishnamoorthy.


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