Odisha: A Calendar of Sacred Festivals

Cuttack's fine silver filigree has a special place within the community during festivals, rituals and important ceremonies

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Silver Filigree: Fine Creations (2017) by Jewellery shop in the marketDastkari Haat Samiti

Many deities, many festivals

The gods, whether male or female deities, and their idols, are of prime importance for all craftsmen and women of India. Festivals celebrating them are a constant feature in many states and communities, depending on harvests and other rituals or ceremonial periods. Each festival brings with it its adherents, demands and a special set of celebrations.

Silver Filigree: A calendar of sacred festival (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

In Odisha, the vegetation along the main highway announces the advent of ‘Puja’ or the season of prayer, when the Goddess Durga in various avatars is celebrated for nine days of festivities and prayers called Navratri.

The wild sugar cane or kans grass, locally called kashphool, can be seen in full bloom to announce the beginning of this season of prayer.

Silver Filigree: Temple decoration during durga puja (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

This season of prayer is an opportunity for the street vendors to sell their wares to the various pilgrims who visit the temples.

Silver Filigree: Temple decoration during durga puja (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Puja season also sets into motion a flurry of decorative work from the hands of every crafts person, from flower garland makers to decorators of illuminated frontages on the streets.

Silver Filigree: Belief of the people (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

In the city of Puri, the Jagannath temple is an important cultural landmark. Is is an important stop for all devotees who come to Odisha.

Silver Filigree: Belief of the people (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Around the temple area, there are many traditional silver filigree workshops which are frequented by both locals and tourists.

Silver Filigree: The making (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Locally known as Tarakashi, the craft of silver filigree is believed to have been introduced in Odisha when the Mughals established their rule in India. Many designs employed by the artisans show the influence of elaborate motifs of that era.

Silver Filigree: workshop (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The working area of the filigree craftsmen is often decorated with posters of Lord Jagannath and other deities.

Silver Filigree: workshop (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The workshops are generally located behind the showrooms.

They sit in groups of four to five people, facilitating the complete process from twisting the silver wires to fashioning the products to cleaning the finished piece.

Silver Filigree: In process (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

All production starts with craftsmen drawing the design on sheet.

Silver Filigree: Jewellery details (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The process is highly elaborate, using precision machines and skilled handwork, apart from the ingenuity and creativity of these traditional artisans.

Silver Filigree: Machine to make silver wires (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

While most of the processes involved in filigree production are manual, a machine is used to compress silver bricks into flat wires.

Silver Filigree: In process (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

In Cuttack, the 'Silver City of India', all silversmiths are situated in or around the market area located near the birthplace of India’s iconic freedom fighter, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, giving it extra significance as a prestigious locality.

Silver Filigree: shop (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Various showrooms in the markets use their window display to showcase silver ornaments for deities, which are in demand during the festivals.

These showrooms cater to all kinds of buyers and stock silver filigree items besides ornaments for deities as well.

Silver Filigree: Establishing the silver simhasan (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

During major festivals, like Durga Puja, silversmiths work on producing large ornamental pieces that are used to add grandeur to the idol of the deity.

Silver Filigree: Jewellery details (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The craftsmen also make filigree products using gold, and often use gemstones to enhance their designs.

Many of the jewelry designs made by Odisha's filigree artists today are the same as those that were made by their predecessors 20-25 years ago!

Silver Filigree: Machine to make silver wires (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Cuttack is especially famous for its centuries old silver filigree work and the ecosystem that exits to support the silversmiths is what makes this craft successful.

Many families have been a part of this ecosystem for a long time and continue to grow.

Silver Filigree: In process (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The good business that the silver trade brings to the town, encourages all sections of society to live together in harmony.

Silver Filigree: Fine Creations (2017) by Jewellery shop in the marketDastkari Haat Samiti

Credits: Story

Text: Jaya Jaitly
Photography: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Artisans: Ruksar Ali and community filigree artists
Ground Facilitator: Ankit Kumar
Documentary Video: Ankit Kumar
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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