BY ABIGAIL CRASTO
Understanding our past requires preserving art forms that are slowly slipping away from our hands. This has been actualised by two Goan professionals who create perfectly pieced-together godhadis.
You’ve probably made, used or come across patchwork quilts in a Goan household. Traditionally created by refurbishing old saris and cloth pieces, these quilts simply illustrated the fondness grandmothers had for their grandkids.
But despite being popular in Goan homes, these godhadis remain underrated and nowadays are hard to come by or have stitched easily.
An attempt to revive this dying art form gave birth to Gozdi, a brand that crafts these quilts with passion. Godhadi (locally pronounced as “gozdi” in Goa) is native to Goa and Maharashtra.
Compared to the stitching patterns of godhadis in Maharashtra or those used in kantha from West Bengal, Goan godhadis have the hallmark of ornate spirals and circles.
Working with experienced artisans, Gozdi uses new and carefully hand-picked saris to prolong durability, deliver quality and add to the visual appeal.
These godhadis, made of four to six layers, are all-season and have a unique design to provide comfort.
SETTING UP THE BRAND
Launched in April this year, Gozdi is the pilot project, an idea that translated into a product – of Arya Khedeker and Swapnil Nesarkar. Inspiration sparked when they observed that people around them had sentimental value attached to things like a favourite blanket.
“My husband still sleeps with a godhadi his mother had hand-stitched decades ago and that’s his only favourite blanket,” Arya says. It got her thinking about what made people so connected to the blanket they use and that simple thought planted the seed of Gozdi.
Coming from a different field as IT professionals, they had a lot of research and learning to do. The godhadis needed to be comfortable to use but also aesthetically pleasing.
They received plenty of advice along the way. “We were lucky to get a lot of guidance from Dipali Nadkarni who is a fashion designer and a friend, Arya’s mother-in-law and her friend Vasanti Dubhashi, who themselves hand-stitch godhadis,” Swapnil tells us.
REVIVING THE ART
After speaking to those involved in making these godhadis, Arya realised that the younger generation isn’t keen on learning this art, which requires much patience and dedicated time.
There are few artisans left who still hand-stitch godhadis and that poses a challenge to the brand's growth.
To revive any art form you need to understand the feasibility and create a market value. “Swapnil and I, after several discussions and research, thought: why can’t we provide a platform to the artisans involved in this dying art and evaluate if it is possible to productise it for the Goan and Indian market," Arya reveals.
THE JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN…
Gozdi currently operates via online platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp. It is a project that has the potential to develop into a full-fledged business if funded properly.
“The initial response is promising, and we hope that we can convert this into a sustainable business opportunity for Goan artisans in future,” Arya adds.
Being a niche product, finding the right market will take some time. Moreover, whether customers are willing to purchase these tediously hand-stitched products at the price they are being sold, will decide the fate of the brand.
“We’re looking forward to connecting with more artisans who are engaged in hand stitching godhadis across Goa. We may also consider adding other Goan handmade products to our product line eventually," says Arya, regarding her plans ahead.
Imagine waking up to a native art form being lost forever. So much of a culture, an identity and a livelihood will be gone for good.
An art form that had the potential of bringing an entire community together, the shared knowledge, the sustainable way of repurposing things and a means to make good use of leisure time – all lost with the consumerist mentality we seem to have made our own.
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