The modern IKATARA

As Rahul Mishra and Divya Bhatt experiment with bandhnis, bhujodi and patolas; Vinita Passary and Janki Patel are reviving ikat. These creative minds will display their works in the city from today finds Priya Adhyaru-Majithia

Old is gold they say. And when the beautiful old forms are revived and fused with new designs, the result is amazing. In an innovative attempt to transform traditions into latest fashion trends, young designers are focusing on fresh experimentations and revival techniques to bring the fashion and form of the by-gone era in vogue.

While young NID alumni couple Rahul Mishra and Divya Bhatt experiment with bandhnis, bhujodi and patolas, Vinita Passary, designer from Hyderabad and Amdavadi Janki Patel have dedicated themselves to the revival of ikat.

Ikat, which means ‘to bind’ in Indonesian, is the finished woven fabric handmade using ancient tie-and-dye handloom technique. It’s universal weaving style is common to many world cultures, including Central and South America, Mexico, parts of Europe, India, Japan and many South-East Asian nations. While ikat weaving styles vary widely, its motifs have regional ethnic, spiritual contexts.
Though ancient weaving techniques are lengthy and tedious, its produces are the finest forms of Andhra ikats, Orissa ikats and Gujarat’s ikats known as patolas. These are differentiated by intricate weaving techniques and are identified as single ikat, wrap ikat, weft ikat and double ikat. Today, when the market is flooded with power loom Ikat, these ancient weaving crafts are facing the brink of extinction.
Skilled and sensitive young designers have now turned focus to bringing the fading flavours of ikat back in vogue and create a new possibility of survival for the weavers depending on this craftsmanship.

Rahul Mishra and his Gujarati better half Divya Bhatt are fond of bandhnis, chanderis, bhujodis and patolas. Their fondness for traditional designs, freshness and newness of current-day fashion trends has resulted into the rebirth of the ancient patterns. NID graduate Rahul says, “Respect for tradition and the urge to follow the newest trends — both tendencies are rooted in a fine balance in Amdavad. Hence, I chose to showcase my collection here first.”
Recently, Rahul’s designs won the best collection title at a fashion event in Mumbai. He says, “For me, craft is inspirational. I incorporate craft in a modernised fashion as we need to keep the functionality in mind while we come up with different designs. Wearing handlooms saris is difficult for the modern Indian working woman. Hence these fabrics are on the verge of extinction. My works are created keeping this in mind.”
Rahul and Divya’s motto is to empower rural weavers and involves crafts like bhujodi shawls and bandhni work, which has been the theme of their collections since 2007. Rahul says, “My aim is to empower the Indian craft community through sustainable design interventions. My philosophy is to integrate rich Indian craft with the constantly varying global fashion.” Rahul is the first non-European designer to have won the scholarship at the Istituto Marangoni, Milan. He recently collaborated with a hospitality industry group to uplift ikat weavers from Pochampally.

In an attempt to reinvent the ikat by giving it a contemporary twist; Vinita has created a new, lighter version which is in sync with central Asian-ikat inspirations. Explaining why she titled her collection The Revivalist Soul, she says that retaining classic cuts of traditional ikat, she has enhanced its feel by fusing it with a fresh approach, new vision and global appeal. “I have used 120 minute dhaghas to make a single thread instead of 160 or more as per the old format; this change has made the fabric softer and lightest produce of a yarn. Working on old grouches, we have used fast dyes so as to these designs are easy on maintenance. We have included new colours like bright red, orange, and blue, green and purple, besides the traditional shades of black, white, grey, red and indigo. Playing with motif inspirations, we have offered globally popular central Asian ikat weaves in new patterns of tops, tunics, reversible jackets, hakamas, dresses, kurtas, palazzos, stoles, dupattas, scarves and saris. And these creations are made out of weaves produced and handmade with the same old techniques on handloom yarn.
Janki who has joined hands with Vinita for the revival of ikat, says, “These traditional arts of making handwoven cloth is fading. We are paving a path for resurgence of the ancient fabric making techniques enveloping warp ikat, weft ikat and double ikat and aim to create awareness of our rich heritage in handlooms, and helping renew great work of needy, talented weavers from Andhra Pradesh.” Vinita says that Amdavadis appreciate tradition and demand latest and trendiest of designs, hence they are eager to unveil their collection here.

The write up appeared in Ahmedabad Mirror on Sept, 6, 2013

Celebrating freedom through expression

Budhan theatre’s children celebrated 62nd Vimukti Divas through a play. The drama used Bhantu bhasha, Chhara community’s dialect, as a medium of communication learns Priya Adhyaru-Majithia

Apne desh ka naam kya hai? “Bharat” answers a child enthusiasticly. He is one of the 20 children attending a class of the Chhara community in a village. The class, comprising students aged five- to 15-years-old, has been asked this general knowledge question during an annual surveillance visit. Indira Gandhi kiski beti thhee? Woh Gandhijiki beti thee. The wrong answer receives a grand applause from the class and a visiting politician. – This is a scene from the political and social satire Agnankosh, a 35-minute drama, Continue reading “Celebrating freedom through expression”


A unique club of single parents bonding over parental issues has recently come up in town; it plans to include only 50 entries in 1st year finds Priya Adhyaru-Majithia

It may be by choice or circumstance that parents become single. But life in a single parent household can be stressful at times. The challenges they face may vary according to their circumstances, but there are also experiences that are shared by single-parent families. To deal with the issues of parenting singlehandedly, a few like-minded singles recently came up with a single parents club in the city. This is an extension of activities of the existing network of singles and singles again Harmony that was formed in 2010. Continue reading “SINGLES MINGLE OVER PARENTING ROLE”

Sweet-sour bond : Relative Values : RAJESH GANDHI AND AASTHA GANDHI

The relationship between Rajesh and Aastha has various facets: father-daughter, mentor-tutor, and even business rivals observes Priya Adhyaru-Majithia.

Traditionalist Rajesh Gandhi of ice-cream manufacturing giant, Vadilal, and trendy Aastha Gandhi, both match and mismatch like their sweet ice-creams and sour gelatos. They share a unique relationship, that of being a father-daughter who are also business rivals.

The daughter dreams big and the father has the expertise to translate her intangible visions into solid and tangible models. “I sent her to Italy to understand more about ice-creams,” says Rajesh, but contrary to his expectations, Aastha explored gelatos –ice-cream’s latest rivals in the Indian market. Continue reading “Sweet-sour bond : Relative Values : RAJESH GANDHI AND AASTHA GANDHI”

Relative Values : Distinctly divergent

ELA BHATT AND MIHIR BHATT reveal to Priya Adhyaru-Majithia how distinctly divergent they are.

Poles apart in thoughts, work and temperament, renowned social activist Ela Bhatt and her son Mihir, a disaster management expert, share the uniquely unified objective of social uplift. Creation is the focus of Ela Bhatt, the founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India, who is a lawyer by training, and an initiator of international labour, cooperative, women and microfinance movements in India. While ‘healing’ is the forte of her son Mihir Bhatt, trained as an architect, and founder and director of All-India Disaster Mitigation Institute working for disaster risk mitigation and rehabilitation activities.

“We are poles apart, and yet extremely close to each other,”… Continue reading “Relative Values : Distinctly divergent”

What freedom means to you

India will celebrate 66 years of freedom and independence means different things to different people. Priya Adhyaru-Majithia asks Amdavadis what it means to them.

Hoisting the Tricolour, attending a parade, singing patriotic songs and the national anthem or listening to the annual speech by the prime minister and president – that is how many of us will spend the Independence Day. But 66 years after India attained independence from British rule, the idea of freedom might differ from people to people. Here is what Amdavadis have to say…

To break the rulesContinue reading “What freedom means to you”

Amdavadi girl does country proud

Meera Bhat, a research scholar at State University of New York, represented Asia at UN’s Global Interactive Dialogue that was webcast live

Priya Adhyaru-Majithia

An Amdavadi represented Asia at United Nations’ Global Interactive Dialogue at the UN headquarters in New York. Meera Bhat, a research scholar in social sciences at State University of New York, was among the five panelists who represented their respective continents. More than 500 participants and over 125 young people connected from five remote locations across the world at the live conference on Monday night. The event was held to kick start the celebration of International Youth Day 2013 that falls on August 12. 


Bhat spoke on the topic, A Good Education, while the speaker from Nigeria who represented Africa spoke on ‘Better Healthcare’. Continue reading “Amdavadi girl does country proud”


On Friendship Day Mirror speaks to a few Amdavadis who used technology to renew their bonds of friendship

Priya Adhyaru-Majithia

A true friend is one soul in two bodies, said famous Greek philosopher Aristotle. But many a time, demands made by a full-fledged career, family life and other commitments, even best of friends drift apart. Now, with advent of technology, these long-dormant friendships are getting a new lease of life. Social networking sites and online chatting apps have helped several people get in touch and renew ties with their long-lost friends. On Friendship Day, Mirror spoke to a few Amdavadis who have renewed their friendships using technology.


BACK TO SCHOOL DAYS DARSHNA JADEJA, 41, ENTREPRENEUR For most Indian women, one of the agonies in life is losing touch with old friends once they get married. Continue reading “RE-IGNITING FRIENDSHIPS IN CYBER SPACE”

Gaj Shringaar unites states

About 38 mahout-artists from UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat join hands to decorate 18 to 21 elephants for Rath Yatra

Priya Adhyaru-Majithia

Mahant Jagdishdas (left) and other artists fill shades of scarlet into the basic white sketch made to decorate the animal for Rath Yatra

In the build up to the 136th Rath Yatra, a riot of colours and celebrations galore at the Jagannath Temple. To follow the special tradition of Gaj Shringaar, about 38 mahout-artists from UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat have combined their talents to decorate 18 to 21 elephants.

The happy beginnings of the Rath Yatra procession are seen in elephants being painted and tastefully attired with artful motifs and embroidered velvets. The excitement rises to a crescendo in Gaj Shringar with use of vibrant colours, textiles, flowers and bells.

Lotus, Sun God, kalash, flowers, creepers – the traditional Indian motifs are painted in acrylic colours using shades of scarlet, yellow, parrot green and blue on elephants. This special custom is a prelude to the Rath Yatra, which is incomplete without its decorated elephants.

Elephants have always held an important place in our society as Lord Ganesha, the elephant- headed Hindu deity, is considered the lord master of all ceremonies and happy beginnings, explains Mahant Jagdishdas, one of the master elephant caretakers appointed by the mandir.

Under him a team of 38 to 40 mahoutartists tirelessly work from 6 am to 8 pm to freshly paint and decorate about 18 to 21 elephants for the Rath Yatra procession every year. The mahout-artists take great pride in decorating the elephants for the occasion.

“Elephant painting is an auspicious art like doing rangoli,” said Naresh Rajput, a mahout in the care of temple elephants for past 30 years. This is a special art form practised by mahouts to decorate elephants for religious processions and festivities.

“For Rath Yatra, about 38 to 40 mahouts from UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat have combined their talents to decorate 18 to 21 elephants. Using acrylic colours with wall paint brushes, they first make a sketch treating the animal as a live canvas and later they fill it with vibrant colours to create lively ambience for the festivities. Painting one elephant requires about 3 artists and demands about four hours,” he said.

Mita Mehta, 37, businesswoman and painting-enthusiast, who has been participating in the painting of the yatra elephants for past 17 years, said, “Elephant painting is spontaneous art and expression of joy and excitement.

The way walls are painted using geru, abhala and other traditional colours prior to auspicious occasions such as marriage, similarly, elephants are decorated for festivities and processions. Painting elephants demands a huge amount of patience as they tend to move a lot unlike enthusiastic women getting mehendi done on their hands and feet.”


The story appeared on page 8-9 of Ahmedabad Mirror on July 10


 ‘A’bad has the best food, roads and riders,’ says entrepreneurial entertainer Ash Chandler, who was here for a private concert

Priya Adhyaru-Majithia 

 Known as a stand-up performer and one of the country’s first English language comedians, Ash Chandler has recently added Ahmedabad on his radar. Joining hands with an exclusive bike showroom in the city, Chandler is planning a big show in Ahmedabad in August.

 “Currently, I’m creating music for a first-of-its-kind entertainment show to take place in city next month,” said the TV host and actor who has been seen in movies like Hrithik Roshan-starrer Guzaarish, Shikhar, Mixed Doubles and My Bollywood Bride. Chandler recently received rave reviews for his performance in Love Wrinkle Free, his first feature film as a leading man.

 He is also known for engaging his immense talent to regale audiences with his exclusive performances which manifest hotchpotch of popular song renditions with his vocal talents of Motown, Jazz, Blues and Rock. “I plan to customise entertainment for the young bikers here and the special music will lend a distinct quality and exclusiveness to the upcoming event,” he said.

 Talking about the biking culture in the city, a happy and excited Chandler said, “I love the newly emerging biking culture in Ahmedabad and its smooth roads. This city has a natural environment that fuels the craze for biking with good roads and lavish spaces.” And to boost this culture, he wants to add the tempo of his music.

 “In this phase of my life, I am at the peak of experimentations,” said Chandler. And creating new music for Ahmedabad and Gujarat and writing films are the two areas he’s experimentating with right now.

 “I am writing a story for a film and creating popular music to cater to specific target audience — riders. I will combine the best of the three different bands in India that I tour with and will soon bring some mindblowing new music culture to Ahmedabad,” he said.

 And any special reason to create new music for Ahmedabad? “Yes, I have a deep connection with Gujaratis,” revealed Chandler. “Majority of the 85 per cent of people I met as a child in the US were Gujaratis, including my father’s business clients and my family’s first set of friends,” he said. His father Chandler Sharma, 75, is an immigration lawyer and resides in Atlanta.

 “The childhood connections beckon me to create something new for the city. Besides, I love Ahmedabad for its new riding culture and Gujarati food.”


The story appeared on page 9 of Ahmedabad Mirror on July 4, 2013