Jammu’s ‘Prali’  Craft  is full of Opportunities


Raman Sharma

As per Alfred Adler, the father of Individual Psychology, the  term “Inferiority Complex”  denotes an intense feeling of not belonging, or a feeling of being less than.”

To begin this piece of writing, explaining the meaning of ‘Inferiority’ becomes more important whenever we discuss about languages, culture, tradition, cuisines, religious values, important historic places, and talented artists, sportspersons or even Handicraft of Jammu because of obvious reasons.

Jammuites knowingly or otherwise lack a sense of belongingness to their roots there may be varied reasons for that but it is bitter truth. Jammuites should at least take a cue from neighbouring state of Punjab or their own Kashmir to understand that how do people there cherish their Languages, Traditions, folks, Culture and of course handicraft.

Now, coming straight to the topic; recently  Local Newspapers here published very encouraging news regarding a Jammu NGO   being awarded in an International Handicraft Mela in Faridabad Haryana by Satyadev Narayan Arya, the Governor of Haryana and as per the news report it was also mentioned that this International Mela was organized by tourism department of Haryana in collaboration with   government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs this forth night  long event  was earlier inaugurated by Ram Nath Kovind, the president of  India and in the Mela around 13 Lac visitors local and foreigner paid their visit.

News report also informed that one Mukti Society, a Jammu based NGO was being conferred with “Kala Nidhi” Award that included a trophy, certificate and Cash, the award had been given to this NGO for its outstanding contribution towards promotion of ” Prali Craft ” of Jammu.

Well for most of Jammuites at least for younger people living in urban and sub-urban areas of Jammu it was a kind of surprise because many of us had not even heard about this Prali Craft ( Straw craft ) of Jammu because whenever we heard of handicraft of Jammu and Kashmir we always visualised and felt presence  of Kashmiri-Carpets, Pashmina Shawls, wood carving or Kashmiri embroidery, surely it is equally soothing because  Kashmir belongs to all of us and we must encourage that too.

While looking for further details about this Prali Craft or Stubble Craft of Jammu , on surfing the website of the Directorate of Handicrafts of  Government of Jammu and Kashmir, nothing could be found about this Prali Craft of Jammu.

Though as per data published on the website of Jammu and Kashmir Handicrafts Department “www.jkhandicrafts.com, it  claims that there are 2.50 lac artisans in the J & K state(now UT) that are directly linked with Handicrafts for their livelihood and it also claims that J & K’s handicraft fetches  Rs. 1700 crore foreign exchange each annually.

There is not even an iota of information related to this Prali Craft of Jammu hosted on this official website of J & K government , surprisingly the same craft  that have earned such a prestigious “ “ Kala Nidhi” award in an International event.

Though, Nidhi Sharma, the founder and chairperson of the Mukti NGO while sharing her experiences  does not blame the government or the handicraft department of J & K but she holds the apathy of the people of Jammu responsible who according to her remained unconnected to their own roots and responsible for not taking pride and exhibiting their rich cultural heritage including handicrafts.

She said “ Even if government of J & K or government of India spend millions of rupees in promoting any art or handicraft yet  it remains incomplete without the participation of its people from where that art or  handicraft originate, Jammu people must appreciate ourselves and each of us should be the ambassador for our culture and craft”.

Somehow she is right but the state government and concerned departments cannot be completely exonerated for not giving due place to the handicrafts of Jammu region be it Basohli Paintings or Prali Craft, both these crafts if provided little support of by the government, they could  fetch a significant amount of employment for our youth.

Disposing of  Prali ( Straw)    is one of the major concern of three state including Delhi, Haryana and Punjab   and when the farmers of Haryana and Punjab burn this Prali in open field that emits clouds of  harmful polluted smoke that causes major risk for human lives especially children  and old age people. The rural women artisans of Jammu’s Kishtwar area can become the national partner in resolving this serious problem of Air pollution in the northern region of India caused by burning of Prali, in fact this Prali that is considered as a trash and problem and be turned into wealth.

Through this write up,  Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, IAS, the Commissioner/Secretary to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Industries and Commerce Department who has also served in different departments of Union government  for a long, is appealed to help these female artisans from remote Kishtwar area of Jammu to organize and institutionalize this Prali Craft and encourage the artisans involved in this craft.

They make beautiful artifacts like slippers (Chappal), Binna, grass, Kambal (Blankets), Pattu’s, Bamboo products, Chattais, Beautiful wall Hangins and many more other products. This rich rural  handicraft of Jammu needs to be appreciated in the initial stage then like our other main handicrafts of Kashmir region it would also not only fetch foreign exchange for the region but also boost tourism and name of J & K in global arena ultimately help in resolving the problem of growing unemployment.

The J & K Handicraft department itself should open more sale points for sale of Handicrafts or lend help to the artisans to open these shops in main tourist’s spot in the Union territory. The Jammu & Kashmir Pollution Control Board should also get involved in promotion of Prali Handicraft as it can be useful in checking air pollution.

Besides Industries and Handicraft department, other allied departments of Jammu and Kashmir like Rural Development Department, Agriculture department, forest department, Social welfare and women development department in promotion of this rural Handicraft.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir and especially of Jammu should also using the social media platforms, write ups and using other platform  must encourage these rural handicrafts of our region and come out of the disease called “Inferiority Complex”.


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