Varanasi Weavers

Varanasi also called Benaras or Kashi has been an important center for the Hindu pilgrimage.

Banarsi brocades are popularly known as Kinkhab in Varanasi. Origin of this craftsmanship can be dated back to the Vedic period which flourished largely, during the Mughal period; under Akbar’s patronage. From the historical perspective, Benaras brocades has found place from rig Vedic literature to post independent India

The  craft of silk weaving by the Varanasi Guild of weavers is renowned for its intricacy in design and its craftsmanship. Benarasi Brocades represents the richness of the Indian culture, each textile has a different narrative, which is an ode to the weavers imagination.

The weavers lost their clientele, due to the advent of the power looms  and many abandoned their craft and resorted to other means of living.

Varanasi Weavers, a social development project envisioned by Upasana Design studio, to reinstate Benaras Brocades to its glory and provide livelihood opportunities for the weaving community of Varanasi.

As part of my Diploma project, I will be working closely with the weaving community of Varanasi. I am really looking forward to this interaction with the makers of Kinkhab, and hope to take something from them.


A girl named Tsunamika


Tsunamika, a doll that triumphs the spirit midst the face of affliction. She ignites hope and augments faith.

I was introduced to Tsunamika and her story, by Neelam and Vijay, my friends, who I met during my undergraduate study at NIFT, while they were pursuing their graduation project at Upasana Design studio, back in 2008.

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‘Tsunamika meets her friends’, a tale of the Tsunamika doll, which was born of the devastating tsunami. 

‘There was a little girl, Tsunamika, who lived on the ocean floor. She had never seen the sun, the moon are the stars because no light ever reached the ocean floor. She lived by herself and was very lonely. One day, a starfish came to her and said, “Have you ever seen the sun?”

But then, thanks to a starfish, the Sun, who granted her a wish, and the waves, she got friends, and not just friends but families too — mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who love her. She has travelled far and wide to distant lands and has spread love.

And Tsunamika looked up at the sun and smiled. She realized that she could give her love to all the people of the world’ ~ Upasana, Auroville.

Ever since I set sight on the Tsunamika doll, the resonance of the story that she holds, struck a chord with me.Since then she has been on my inspiration board and stimulates me to go on, along with other things.



Amudha, an inspiring woman, currently the project head for Tsunamika, took responsibility to provide for her family from the age of seven and as she grew up, she valued the importance of education. Her eagerness to learn, never diminished with time, even though she had to succumb to a lot of hardships.

She is proficient in English today, despite lack of training or introduction to English as a language. She is a mother and also a dear friend of the women, belonging to fishing community who are behind the making of Tsunamika.

I had mentioned to her, during a casual conversation about my longing to meet these women and the very same day,she arranged for a visit to a village called  Bommayarpalayam, Tamil Nadu. A restored village cluster, which was destroyed due to Tsunami in 2004. Traumatized women and their families were introduced to Tsunamika, in order to ignite hope and rebuild their spirit, they were encouraged to develop skills in the handicraft of doll making and this engagement shaped a self sustaining model .

Today, these women are happy, self sufficient, nourishing their families, as their husbands the fishermen, continue to suffer loss in fishing, as fish habitats in the Bay of Bengal,have been altered since Tsunami.

The project Tsunamika, has evolved into a livelihood opportunity for nearly 180 women, they receive income for every doll they make. The entire project is a demonstration of “gift economy”, with donations from around the world, it is running independently.

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“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”~ Confucius

Impressions at Upasana


Upasana Design Studio

Upasana Design Studio, located in Auroville has been founded by Uma Prajapati . Upasana discovers itself through creativity, design, social responsibility and spiritual progress.

As one walks into Upasana, the astounding sounds of the wind chime welcomes you with a calm sense of energy. The meaning of Upasana in Sanskrit signifies, sitting near. It is used to implicate the rituals in Hinduism to go closer to God or the supremepower.

A space that exudes a sense of power and endurance across the  landscape, the structure of the building, well lit corridors, each furniture and sculpture defines the very character that lies deep within these entities.  Each entity reflects, the collective energy that is cornerstone of cohesive creative process, responsible for Upasana’s standing.


Mondays and Thursdays begin with a session of concentration, a moment of silence and Ohm choir, allows one to be in complete harmony with themselves.My first experience during concentration was disheartening, I was oblivious to the whole concept of directing the energy to transcend from my body to mind. I was very much aware of my surroundings, being constantly aware is not a perfect state of being, contradictory to how I have been conditioned, since my childhood.

The distinction between  awareness and being conscious has been acknowledged.

Santosh, fine artist and sculptor by profession, potter by passion and a friend in the making, I met at Upasana; quoted Savitiri by Sri Aurobindo.

 “The characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations or emanations of living and conscious, forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life” ~ Sri Aurobindo

He has a different perception about the most common things, that have been laid down as logical and practical by everyone I know and including myself. But this one remark, really made me wonder…

‘Multi- tasking is like cheating’. He implied, the ability to multi task is not an accomplishment, its equivalent to malpractice of a particular act, be it eating, painting or cooking. What is concentration after all? focus and absorption,that one is really into what they are doing and owes that very regard, to any specific act, be it minuscule.

Again something I have been expected to acquire, ability to multi task.

Plan the day while taking a shower, water the plants while reflecting on the article i just finished reading moments ago, answering a phone call while illustrating… multi tasking is one of the paramount performance behaviour by an individual, be it at home or workplace.

I took cognizance of his latent remark. Level of concentration ought to be constant, during every act of the day from morning ablutions to anything that requires coordination of brain with motor skills, essentially while the five senses are at work and refrain from indiscriminate thoughts, which exalt distractions in any form.