It’s the land of a thousand festivals, a million pungent smells and over a billion people. It’s the world’s largest democracy and has the largest population of slaves in the modern world. It’s home to almost 15,000 multi-millionaires as well as one-third of the world’s poor. It has one of the most vibrant cultures on the planet, an historic legacy that’s the stuff of legend and a secure place on the bucket list of every self-respecting independent traveller.
Can you tell it's one of my absolute favourite places??! Some of my favourite travel treasures have come from there, and every one has a story attached - the twinkle in the eye of the shopkeeper as we haggled over my silver earrings; the absolute mission it was to get my three huge, metal lightshades home.
Despite the hassle and hustle, or maybe even because of it, there's something about India and her people that seeps into your soul.
As Gregory David Roberts writes in Shantaram:
“Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart. Amore or Pyar makes every man a poet, a princess of peasant girl if only for second eyes of man and woman meets.”
India is a place of passion and its rich craft traditions, which have spanned centuries, are dripping with it. Take leather for example. The Indian tradition of leather craft stretches as far back as the Indus valley civilisation, interwoven with the ancient history of sages and holy men.
Stone carving is another case of an art form alive with antiquity and passion. Guilds of stone masons have existed in India since the 7th century BC and sculptures, utensils, bowls, vases and even lamps have been added to the modern craftsperson’s forte.
This living legacy is one of the many reasons we are so in love with the range of Indian treasures now in store here at Wanderlust People. Producer groups like Sasha, Tara Projects, Aspiration International and Asha Handicrafts have brought together artisans from across the country to showcase their crafts - like these - to the world. And that opens up a whole new realm of economic and social opportunity for craftspeople who have been pushed to the margins of a globalised, mass-producing, mechanised world.
Picking up one of these treasures (and afterall, Christmas is coming!) not only brings a little piece of India’s grand history and culture into your world – it also helps the craftspeople who made it to sustain the traditions they have inherited and to take hold of the possibilities that our interconnected world offers. So give it a whirl!