Sunday, March 29, 2015

Introducing Kokum: The Perfect Summer Fruit

Getting to Know Kokum

First of all, what is kokum?

Kokum is a native fruit to the western coastal regions of southern India. In Kannada it's called Murugalu. You rarely find it grown or used in cuisine beyond this area. Also know as garcinia indica, the Kokum tree bears hundreds of fruits during the summer. The fruit is green when tender and ripens to a red-purple color, at which point its plucked. Fresh fruit is usually reserved for juice while most of what is plucked will be dried. For drying, the skin and seeds of the Kokum are seperated and traditionally sun-dried.  The seeds are used to make Kokum butter . As a well know counteractive to heat, Kokum is often used as a coolant.

The medicinal benefits of Kokum are wide ranging. Many of its benefits, when consumed, come from antioxidant properties. But it is known to reduce cholesterol, promote weight loss, reduce constipation, relieve pain from anal piles/fissures, improve working of the liver, reduce fever and burning sensations in the body, fight infections and cleanse the blood. Additionally it is used in some Ayurvedic medicines in infusions for skin ailments as well as providing relief from sunstroke and thirst. Finally, the application of Kokum butter quicken the healing of wounds and can be used for cosmetic purposes.

What happens at the BuDa harvest?
Last year we had a beautiful gathering in Honnavar and experienced the processing and preservation of the fruit. We ate many Kokum dishes and enjoyed refreshing juice all the while. While we were preparing the fruits, the children enjoyed fresh fruit with salt, where they made small openings on the top of the fruit, inserted and mixed salt with a small stick and slowly suck the juice directly from the fruit.

Helping Hands: Fruit processing is a community effort
This year the harvesting will also follow a rhythm of a community gathering. Upon arrival, you will see that there are around 100 Kokum trees around the Angadibail forest. Eshwaranna will guide you as to how to pick these oozing red fruits. After which we will clean and prepare the fruits for drying.  We'll also eat and note tastly recipes. Also trying for the first time this year to make Kokum-butter the traditional way. Not to mention we will beat the heat by swimming at the near-by waterfall, playing folk games, a recipe session on regional summer drinks and doing craft with Hanmi Akka. Join us in this celebration of summer, local food and of course Kokum!

The Angadibail House

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hippie-ness: The making of our traditional jaggery recipe book!

See original blog post by Poornima here: Hippie-ness: Traditional jaggery recipe book . The making.:

For the love of making handmade books! Forgotten recipes of the land. Put together by Sara and illustrated by Poornima for February's Jaggery Festival. Check it out:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jaggery Festival | Kabbin Habba

Jaggery Festival | Kabbin Habba 
February 20th & 21st 2015
Sara Taylor

Dawn hit the Angadibail forest center, freshly dressed after its final construction, and stirred a frenzy of excitement for the day. Ashish began what would become his 24 hours as a chauffeur and went to pick up our participants. We all peeled back our layers of jungle which had built up in our previous days of preparation and took hold of the celebratory mood. We heard squeals of delight sound from the jeep, barreling down the red-dirt road. Our eccentric group poured out, wide-eyed at the landscape which they'd just been thrown into. Bharat's flute hung over the place, the most fitting and soothing soundtrack you could imagine to first discover the beauty of the jungle. We greeted everyone warmly, arming them with our homemade soap-nut pouches and bamboo shoots of charcoal tooth-powder in our effort to keep the stream water clean which flows through the forest center. 

Charcoal toothpowder in bamboo shoots & re-fillable scrub bags of soap-nut
After a brief exploration of the new center, we fed out hungry travelers (with plenty of jaggery for idly on their banana leaves) and challenged them to our first task of cutting down sugarcane. Just as the sun started its blistering effect on the forest, we set out to give pooja to the earth and began our harvest. We handled machetes and tried our best to cut and clean the sugar cane as well as Eshwarana had demonstrated. Meanwhile the four youngsters went back to the center to create their own statues of Ganasha for our final pooja after harvest. Our most experienced and enthusiastic participant in the harvest was Savita's Appa by far. He held a wide grin and laughed joyously, reliving childhood memories of sugarcane harvests past. 

Appa gleefully demonstrating sugarcane harvest technique 
Krissy & Luci hauling back some of our harvest
After our sweaty efforts, we hauled what sugarcane we harvested back to the center and cooled off with a glass of kokum juice. We had a beautiful (thanks to those artistic Ganesha figures) harvest pooja where we thanked the earth for letting us take her fruits. Everyone enjoyed a cool stream water bath and we settled into lunch, again filling our banana leaves with jaggery-flavored dishes. After a nap and some quiet time, I headed out to the house where we'd be camping/watching jaggery production with Poornima to put some last minute touches on our festival area. Meanwhile everyone at the center revved up for the site-visit by watching a cooking demonstration of Bangli Rotti, a local cake-like jaggery treat. 

Bangli-Roti, traditional jaggery recipe that uses burning coals to bake
Ashish managed to get everyone in the truck and the participants arrived at the campsite with anticipation and eagerness to participate. We fed them the traditional roasted peanut and jaggery snack to welcome them to the house and quickly made our way down the road to see the traditional style jaggery production before dusk. There, many local friends and villagers joined us in the celebration of traditional jaggery processes. The bulls that pulled the gaana were calm but monstrous in size. The farmers guided us on how to push the other side of the gaana and quickly the children and a few brave participants (shout out to my fellow students) joined in on the work. All the while we sipped fresh sugarcane juice which our hosts poured for us abundantly. 

Traditional GaaNa, pulled by bulls, to extract sugarcane juice
More 'bulls' to help the process
We were just in time to see the farmers take the sugarcane juice which had been cooking in an enormous vat over a large fire and filter it through cloth. We could smell the caramel-like aroma of the finished jaggery and soon we were served a healthy dose of the stuff which we hesitantly slurped down, trying ignore our bodies cry of: enough sweets! But the local treat was just too good for any sane sweet-tooth to turn down. As the sunset left us with a pink sky, we walked back to our campsite to continue the festivities. There at the house, we ran three stalls: 1) a bottle rope-wrapping station where participants decorated recycled bottles to fill with jaggery 2) a cow/bull bell beading station and 3) a cooking demonstration of a crispy crepe-like jaggery treat, todedevu. As the crickets began their symphony, we quieted down from our bustling day and enjoyed sitting still, working with our hands. Soon everyone had crafts to show each other proudly. We leisurely had our dinners and the strongest among us even ate more jaggery treats. A bonfire crackled by the tents and once by one we trickled down to sit by its warmth and hear stories and songs from each other until sleep took us over.  

Sugarcane finished cooking down to liquid jaggery, about to be filtered
A dewey morning came and we had everyone russle up their belongings to head to the location of a house that did mechanized jaggery processing. Sleepily, we somehow piled even more people and items in the truck and bounced along the back roads through the sweet-smelling jungle. Our new hosts welcomed us and led us to their processing site where we learned how the modern, mechanic technique works. More sugarcane juice and the caramel-like taste of the jaggery 'cream', filled our mouths with sweetness again. We sat down to a breakfast of jaggery dosa and green chutney as the sun began to heat up. After a farewell, we piled back in the truck and headed toward a near-by water fall. Our short trek to the falls was full of wonderment as we stared up at the beauty of ancient trees and playful, vibrant flowers. At the sight of the falls we were elated, a few of us unable to contain our excitement and jumping in right away. The water was cold, even by Luci's Minnesotan standards, but it came as a relief to the sun, humidity and layer of camping we'd acquired.

Everyone piled up in the truck!
The waterfall
Smiling and soggy, we came back for our final meal together at the forest center. We chatted, napped and reflected on our journey. We came together to share our favorite moments and everyone got to try the bangli-roti they'd learned to make the afternoon before. As a parting gift, we gave out jaggery recipe booklets filled with traditional delicacies our friends could try to make at home. A successful first annul jaggery festival had us already planning for next year. The weekend finished as it had begun, with smiles and sweetness flowing between BuDa friends in the forest.  

Recipe booklet binding, one of the preparations for the festival, enjoyed by the BuDa team

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Peepal Grove

Peepal Grove River Route Trip

Sara Taylor

This past weekend, BuDa took three students from Peepal Grove, their art teacher and a few friends on an adventure along the Sharavathi River as a part of our River Route Program. Here is a play-by-play of how our magic moonlit trip unfolded:

~ Day 1: The students arrived early in the morning. We had a quiet breakfast. I looked across at the timid group and let my mind wonder how/if they'd come out of their shells during our 5 days together. My mind was quickly eased when we started our first activity: learning shedi art. Each member of the group eagerly observed Hanmi Akka's strokes and threw themselves into their own interpretations. Smoothly joining together our pieces, the ladies were ready for their next artistic challenge, while the boys took time to explore. Calm and focused, Abhirami and Kaveri picked up river reeds for the first time. Growing more familiar to the twists of the grass with every row woven, the students gracefully took on more of Hanmi Akka's teaching.

Abhirami starting to weave a river-reed basket
After a bountiful traditional style lunch, we rested and the boys took their turn at weaving, equally patient and successful in their pursuit. To break from focused-bent-over-ness, we gathered to learn more about each other. Arpita lead an activity where were able to trace everyone's family's roots on a map of India...then the Middle East...and finally way over in the Western Hemisphere when I had my turn. The students enjoyed seeing the variety of places we brought into the group and chimed in to explain all the different elements that we each carry: food, humor, livelihoods...the list developed on and on. Suddenly we noticed the time and scurried down to the train tracks to try and catch one passing with no success. But soon we were too excited for our sunset boat ride to bother and we skipped down to the Sharavathi where the students met the river for the first time. After plenty of exploration and a mystical sunset on a small mangrove island, we waited and watched eagerly as the full moon rose. Our boat ride back was nothing short of a dream.

Arvand & Saransh at the bow of the boat
With the drum of the motor, the pastel sky wained and we passed under a bridge just as a train whizzed by, getting a view of flashing lights from below. The final stretch of our ride, the motor was switched off and silence seized the boat, the sound of ripples in the river joining the moonlit path across the water. With a happy goodnight circle of reflections and anticipation for our camping to begin, the full moon cradled us to sleep.

~ Day 2: We woke up with the stars still up and sleepily piled ourselves in the truck. I sat in the trunk with the Peepal Grove crew and we bumped along as the sun rose. We followed the Sharavathi on the road, up about an hour where we reached a boat-launch. Against rough water, we pushed up the river on the boat, pausing for currents too strong, and reached the first island of our journey Gersoppe. After a rickety bridge crossing that left some in giggles and others a bit stiff with fear, we found our way to our host. There, after some tea, we set straight away to exploration. The eyes of the students weary, but gleaming at the Jain temple on this seeming middle-of-nowhere place. Savitha told us of the Pepper Queen who reined this island and fought against the Portuguese, English and other invaders seeking the wealth of spice. We uncovered broken statues in the brambles behind the temple and contemplated meanings behind carvings. The students took particular interest in a carving of a fish who's eye is said symbolize something...could it be pointing to treasure, hunted for in centuries past? We left questions dangling, our stomachs distracting us with grumbles.

Kaveri & Abhirami discovering ruins
After breakfast and a round of trash pick up for our hosts, we scampered off back through the woods to a refreshing swimming spot and laid our bodies to let the Sharavathi wash over us. After lunch we attempted a nap to recover from our early morning rise, but were surprised by a long, loud ringing of bells which we found our own friend Faiza participating in. We faced the afternoon heat and set out for another round of exploration of the temple ruins. The groups divided and conquered the area, taking notes of observations and questions they had along the way. We had a final meeting where we were able to get a fuller history from Nagrag, our host. Finally we got going on our journey to the next island where we'd be staying the night. On our way to the boat, we came to a temple that Savitha lead us into. There we saw a unique, historical art form called Kaavi that was covering walls which were semi-destroyed and being marked for full demolition. Inquisitive, we remained and engaged with the proprietor about why he was not trying to save these precious works. Engaging dialogue ensued and it was decided that Faiza and Poornima would return the next day to document the demolition and conduct full interviews.

Temple walls with traditional Kaavi art
Piling into the boat for our evening ride to our camping spot, the group rode in silence, letting the sun leave our skin and breeze sweep our brows. The glow of the horizon lead to the eruption of a large orange moon that had all of us gasping and even a few crying out in awe of its beauty. Eyes brimming with beauty we lugged ourselves up to the top of the hill at the island we reached. There we set up camp at an old British bungalow with an outstanding view which further filled us. We had a much needed dinner and relaxed by the a bonfire cooked up by myself and the students. Songs rotated around the circle and once we'd tired our repertoires, we attempted ghost stories. After a very silly story we all contributed to, Savitha unexpectedly scared us with a story of her own and left us with goose bumps. Weary eyed and on the edge of our seats, we settled on going to bed when she refused to tell us the ending to her spooky tale.

Savitha plotting her horror story
~ Day 3: We woke and set off soon after breakfast to explore the new island. Weaving through pathways, we encountered friendly islanders welcoming us to see their homes, patty fields and near-by relics. We reached a coconut grove and with the guidance of a local climber, the students and Arvind attempted to get us something to drink. After bumping and scraping themselves enough, they moved on to joining me in learning how to weave the palm leaves from our ever-smiling friend Manju Gowda. Next we walked, balanced on pipes, to see a few particularly special religious statues and hear about the stories that have evolved with these relics on the island. The students took notes and asked questions, uncovering the mysteries of another lost set of symbols and gods.

Manju Gowda teaching Kaveri palm weaving
Once we'd exhausted our explorations and saved the rest of our questions for another day, we came to the river once more. The current was pulling fiercely and I put on my symbolic lifeguard hat and set some rules for the group, some of whom were new swimmers. We took a boat up the river to float down it and to my delight, everyone stayed safe while having a blast. After our floating sessions, the Peepal Grove crew initiated a jumping contest that had us laughing all the way to lunch. The sun took every ounce of energy out of us and we gratefully ate our lunches and napped. In a flurry we awoke and climbed down from the bungalow to pile into the boat once more. On the way to our next island stop we picked up our weary friends Faiza and Poornima who had spent the day documenting at the Kaavi art site. We reached Balkur and send the boat with our documenters to meet us at the rice mill where we would be camping. Once the boat was around the corner the challenge was laid out: the students had to lead us to the mill. With no Kannada and no sense for where we were headed, the group was gitty at the prospect of leading an adventure. Savitha only asked that we did not take the main road and that the river remain in sight. Twisting through patty fields, balancing on piped and leading us through a red-ant nest (I was the most devoured victim of course), the sun started setting and there was no end in sight. 

Students leading us through Balker
The students began to get a bit anxious but pushed on. Finally when the dark set on fully and we only had a little ways to go, so we took the road for convenience. The students even got us some baji to make us all happy after our trek through the island. We had dinner in an old style rice mill and wearily told the stories of our day before falling fast asleep.

Day 4: Come morning, we took our final boat ride on the Sharavathi. Our longest journey and one pushed along by the rising sun and mist moving off the water. We reached Honnavar after about an hour and climbed out, set our things down and dove right into learning how to make a rope from a coconut. The students picked up the process quickly and when they had finished their ropes, attempting climbing the coconut trees once more, this time with more success because the trees had rungs dug out specifically for climbing.

Saransh up the coconut tree
As the morning sun heated up, we took the trek along the train tracks and up the hill back to the center. There we gobbled up dosas with enthusiasm and even had a bit of an eating contest take place. After our three days of adventure we all needed to rest, catch up on journaling and think about what to do for our affirmations of each-other. After lunch, more rest and letting the sun pass its hottest point, we packed up once more and headed for the beach for our final night of camping. It was upsetting for those returning to the beach-site and first timers alike, to see that a road had been made that lead directly to the beach in an attempt to develop the remote beachfront. Despite this sour feeling, all were gleeful with our meeting of the sea. We splashed through the afternoon, tirelessly fighting the current and letting the waves take throw us against the shore. We climbed the near by rocks and watched the sunset, letting the rocks' warmth dry us off. After making a cozy fire, we feasted and started again into our rotation of songs around the circle. Salty and sun-kissed, we climbed into our tents and slept soundly.

Beach camp for the final night
Day 5: On our final day together, we returned to Honnavar for breakfast and soon received a call from the forest department. They wanted BuDa to run some programs for a government school group that was visiting their one hour. We hopped to the opportunity to interact with local students and the Peepal Grove crew was equally on board. Magnificently, we pulled together a wonderful program in no time at all. Once we reached, the government students were shocked to see such a large group and wide variety of individuals coming to engage with them. We split the group up into two nature oriented observational activities and came back together to reflect on the meaning of all we'd seen. The Peepal Grove students each took a turn speaking about their experience on our five days together and we were grinning at the reflections. The government students were in awe of these kids who had come from all over to see what was in Honnavar's backyard. The Peepal students stressed the significance and beauty of all they'd experienced, emphasizing the folk craft-work they had learned from Hanmi Akka. The BuDa team and friends could not have been more proud. We ended our time together with lovely individual affirmations. We exchanged kind words and bid each other a bittersweet farewell.  
The whole gang

New Intern Sara

Hello! My name is Sara Taylor and I'm interning with BuDa for the next few months. I hail from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Charlottesville, Virginia and go to school at Brandeis University outside of Boston. So far I've spent seven months in India for my third academic year of my liberal arts degree (Anthropology and Environmental Studies) and I can't imagine leaving come May. I've been lucky enough to be involved with BuDa for the past month and a half as part of the internship potion of my program, run through the Enviornmental Support Group in Banglaore (you may have seen me standing, gawkily tall, in some of the quilting worship photos). Though I'm primarily involved with workshops and student groups that BuDa hosts, I'm also doing a research project creating a book on forgotten recipes. If you're interested in seeing some of my experiences in India, check out my blog.
Arpita, Sara, Swathi and Savitha
serving chai to the busy quilters 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Aalemane.....A taste of the Jaggery Festival

A taste of the Jaggery Festival | Kabbin Habba

Arpita Gaidhane

You walk into a limbo of sorts, where time doesn’t quite match up. You know that you have come from the busy lands of urban living, where efficiency and precision are the highest values. You work hard, make yourself a part of the world around you and adjust to modernity but something doesn’t feel right. Now, in this limbo, your heart sings to a tune that you seem to have forgotten, but you recognize deep within yourself.

There is a freshly built centre in the middle of a forest. It is nestled in a valley, surrounded on all sides by hills where birds sing and insects chirp. The red brick of the centre is reminiscent of local architecture, melding into the land, and the eons that have evolved these two levels of sloping roof and spread out design. Water springs naturally behind the centre and irrigates the land around you without any need for electricity. As you enter, like-minded people express their fascination, waking from a slow slumber and remembering something that connects them to this land and the nature that surrounds it.

You are here for the jaggery festival with BuDa folklore. You have heard that they want to celebrate the harvest season once more in a region where land-based celebrations are dying out in favour of modern universal ones. They want to bring back the Aalemane Habba. You have heard that there will be delicacies and a carnival and it has you intrigued. How many delicacies could one ingredient possibly produce?

You experience the modern process first. A motor-run machine presses sugarcane juice into a container that can concentrate 30 tins of jaggery. You are warmly welcomed onto the land and shown all the details of the process, followed by delicious food. The hospitality of the land enchants you, the urban stinginess and possessiveness melting away into the warmth of people’s invitations for you to eat more… innu swalpa! Just a little bit more!

You return to the centre with the chirping of crickets, the stars spreading a magical canopy of jewels overhead. The city almost made you forget your childhood memories of creating your own constellations among millions of glinting lights. The fragrance of local flowers and plants gently pervades the crisp cool air around you and contentment seeps into your bones.

When you finally get to experience the traditional process of jaggery making, nothing that the invitations said has you prepared. On one side, you watch fascinated, as bulls walk in circles around the gana to extract sugarcane juice. Where the modern process could extract 30 tins, this one merely produces three, but the romance of the experience is unmistakable.

You want to try pulling the gana too, so you dance your way to the growing line of fellow celebrators, and try your hand at pressing sugarcane. Elsewhere, what could loosely be called a carnival is at play. This is not like any mela you have seen.

Timmanna Nayak in his sugarcane farm

A small, intimate gathering of people converse and laugh together in a space outside Timmanna Nayak’s home. He is a small farmer, one of the dying breed that still produces jaggery traditionally. He nods quietly and smiles serenely, and it is easy for him to meld into the background and softly hold the space that is before you.

Somewhere, people are learning shedi art from a Hanmi akka  and somewhere they learn to weave baskets from river reeds. Sometimes dancers come along to share the ancient dances of their tribes, and all along, the mouth-watering smell of jaggery wafts in the air. You see expert cooks make Todadevu - unbelievably made only of two ingredients - sugarcane juice and rice atta, on the backs of tilted pots, and marvel at their skill to prepare this crisp, golden, almost transparent pancake.
Sugarcane juice, and a myriad of foods you have never heard of – Huriakki Hunde, Kadabu, Airavata, make their presence felt with their fast disappearance as people rush to sample every exotic taste.

This is not a mela, you realise, but an experience of something extremely rare, a culture that is rooted in its land. Where every element – from food and agriculture, to architecture, art, music, religion and dance, have evolved naturally from the needs of the earth, and belong completely to that region. You miss your roots and wonder what they might have looked like before the urban sprawl took over to make everything the same. You soak in the ambience, breathing a little deeper as if that breath can help you take back all that you are experiencing with your senses and your heart.

You want to take back every piece of art and craft, every delicious food as a memory and an experience to share with the world that you have to invariably return to. Maybe you’ll come back and maybe you won’t, but this experience imprints itself somewhere deep within you, to energise and refresh in the daily grind of city living. When frustration and deadlines, conflicts and disconnect erode your being, you will think back to this limbo – this time away from time, when you went to a centre deep within the forest and experienced what it means to truly belong to the land and to the earth. And when you glance over every once in a while at the artwork on your mantle or the basket on your table, you will sigh content, knowing that somewhere, somehow, that connection lives and thrives.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Weaving Colours of Love – Traditional Hand-quilting Workshop (IV Edition)

Weaving Colours of Love – Traditional Hand-quilting Workshop (IV Edition)

Arpita Gaidhane

“A Quilt is like an album of a lifetime of memories, and to wrap that around you when you sleep is lovely.”      
Faiza Ahmad Khan, Participant

Quilting Workshop 2015

The beginnings of the fourth edition of the Quilting Workshop by Nirmalakka arranged by BuDa Folklore started weaving together long before the conception of the programme. As past participants and urban folk in need to connect with their roots persisted in their demands, the dates of January 24th to 26th 2015 were frozen for a three-day quilting retreat in the serene and vibrant home of Savita Uday in Bangalore.

 Living Room of Savita Uday’s Home, Venue of the Quilting Workshop

Twelve participants from diverse backgrounds came together for three days, and as we sat in the first circle to get to know each other and begin an unanticipated process, what seemed to be a simple skill-based programme towards weaving fabrics together slowly revealed itself to be much more than that. Different people, different colours, different languages, different interests all fed off of each other to create an effect as diverse and as dazzling as the quilts themselves.

The processes of continuously quilting over three days, leaving all their worries behind, and getting to know other participants as their own sisters with different stories, ensured that the workshop was a rich, soulful experience for each participant. As Rama Narayanan, participant for the last Quilting Workshop and volunteer for the present one put it,
“Superficially it seems as though a bunch of women are chatting and quilting together, but really, it feeds the soul, whatever each participant’s journey may be. Long after the workshop is over and we have all gone home, we will feel the fulfilment that comes from deep soul-shifting in a joyful light-hearted manner.”


It was an early realisation that the workshop wasn’t just about learning the skill, but about the entire quilting experience. Ananya Mehta, participant, finds it important to know not just the product that she buys, but the entire process and journey that it goes through before becoming that final product. This inspired her to join the workshop.

Hours of painstaking work made it obvious that the journeys of a quilter are long and arduous, with laughter and pain woven in with the colours and threads. When different quilters completed their work with different speeds, the entire experience became a community effort towards weaving not just their own, but everyone’s quilts. An activity on the second day called Circle of Love called for quilters to swap quilts for half an hour to be part of each other’s memories and to let go of the common deep-rooted ideas of competition and completion. Quilter Rashmi Patel said that this process for her has been about slowing down and noticing the journey, not just racing towards the finish line.

Image 3: Quilters Kalpana Subbaramappa (left) and Anuradha Narayanan with their swapped quilts during the Circle of Love

As participants expanded their own awareness, noticing the time that they could spend with and for themselves, especially in the context of being busy Indian women vested in their families, there were often deep conversations about connecting not just to each other but just with themselves and the silence and meditation that quilting brought them. For Latha Sekar, it was an intense journey of the self to be present to the process of quilting in entirety through three days. The youngest participant, Swarakshita, a sixth grader, found that she had a similar experience of joy being with her quilt, even though the conversation and context around her was of alien adult experiences.

The last important connection that the quilters experienced besides self and each other, was the connection across time and space to ecology. There was a deep realisation of the sustainability of using fabric patches from used clothes, and an unforgettable connection with the stories woven into the fabric. Storyteller Kalpana Subbaramappa wants to be able to tell stories with her quilts in the time to come as she progresses in her art, just as stories are already being formed with the clothes of loved ones that were lovingly woven into quilts.

Image 4: Rama Narayanan contemplating her meal

Laughter and Madness

What sounds like a deep inquiry of the soul was in fact interspersed with moments of fun and joy. The whole house would reverberate with laughter when Nirmalakka would amusingly chide different quilts, and when deep concentration had one of the participants stitch their own dress to their quilt! The food was a definite highlight, homemade with loving care by the BuDa team and Swati, who accomplished the superhuman task of quilting and cooking simultaneously. Local hints of the Honnavar cuisine like kokam, Tambli (flavoured buttermilk) and bella (liquid jaggery) danced with popular items like chole and rajma. Rama cheered everyone on on the last day with special chocolate cakes to celebrate the conclusion of the quilts, and Sara, intern at BuDa, delighted everyone with fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Music floated around as different people took turns to entertain, with tunes and genres of all kinds dancing around the house.
 Image 5: Anvay, Sara and Arpita singing to cheer on the last stage of intense quilting

Conclusion and Highlight

The most beautiful moment for the workshop for me, although there are too many beautiful ones to count, was the concluding ceremony. The tradition in Uttara Kannada, explained Nirmalakka, is that the quilt is someone being brought to life, and quilters make sure that it doesn’t go hungry by feeding the last pocket with food. The feeding of the quilt was done with everyone gathered around to witness the enlivening, and followed by a naming ceremony with each one naming their quilts. Swati and Smitha dedicated their quilts to Nirmalakka’s guidance and love, whereas others named their quilts according to their own personalities and interests. To know more about which quilt suits your personality, look forward to the Personality Quiz coming soon from BuDa Folklore!

                                              Participant Joan Guest Feeding her quilt

When everyone gathered together in celebration of quilts made and unmade, finished and to come, content with the joy of being in community and weaving beautiful memories for three days, the apprehension that many felt on the first day was no longer visible. What remained now was a community of sisters, joined in their joy to work with their hands, being fun, silly, inappropriate, close and deeply connected with each other in ways that no one would have imagined a simple quilting experience could create.

Nirmalakka and Kalavva, loving guides, watched over the chaos with quiet content smiles, guided by the wisdom of their roots and steeped in the secret of connection that quilting can create. As everyone started to leave and thank them, they remained their ever-humble selves, superhuman in their stamina to work and help, and unwilling to hear any praise of their brilliance that any urban person would be in awe of.

 Nirmalakka and  Kalavva

As the house emptied and loving community went off to their worldly tasks, Savita Uday’s mind started ticking again. Our Roots are vast and the need for them to take hold in modern soil is urgent. With a beautiful workshop finished, there is more work to be done…

 Quilters and the BuDa team after the workshop