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Heavenly Variants of a Kashmiri Kehwa

 For those who have never tasted it, the Kahwa is a Kashmiri version of green tea with a subtly  sweet and aromatic flavor, infused with delicate whole spices. This magical concoction of a  drink is brewed by natural ingredients like cinnamon, green cardamom, green tea and cloves,  with the added goodness of Kashmiri almonds. The heavenly drink has a light green hue, which  turns to gold in the presence of saffron. One sip of the delightful Kahwa will take you into a  wonderful trance, soothing your senses and replenishing your soul, besides relieving you from  all your stress and anxieties.

The Women of Shehjar - Empowering themselves and Each Other

“The fabric over which we embroider is  hand woven by womenfolk in Jharkhand who then pass it on to us. I embroider it in  traditional Kashmiri Embroideries like Aari, Sozni or even moti work. This not only benefits me, but also the women who are weaving this underlying fabric meticulously. The bar of boundaries is erased.", says Sabiha.

 Today, Shehjar employs approximately 50 skilled women like Sabiha, provides them facilities to sustain themselves  independently and reclaim their identity which has been lost in the folds of societal stereotypes over a period of time. 

Crewel - A Stitch in Time

 When on the lookout for exquisite home décor, there is this one Craft that has always mesmerized many a people. We call this  craft Kashmiri Crewel. Hand crafted in a beautiful valley caught between the majestic Pir Panjal and the glorious Himalayan  range, crewel embroidery is actually as ancient as the 1st Century B.C and remained forgotten in history until the later part of  the 16th century. Legend has it that the word Crewel originates from an ancient word which has been lost in the folds of  language over centuries. This ancient word translated to “a curl in a single hair of wool”. The craft uses a specialized hook  called Awl or Aari, a sturdy base fabric and thick threads of wool to give an embossed and dimensional look to the  embroidery.  The hook and woolen thread together in symphony cover a much larger area of the underlying base of closely  woven dusoot or duck cotton, jute or even linen than the traditional needle can.

Manzoor - A Stroke of Hand in a World of Machines

  It is the lanes of Noorbagh that a group of Aari artisans lives, works and crafts skilled pieces of  brilliance. The  group is headed by Manzoor Sahib, a 62 year old gentleman, clad in a grey phiran  made of tweed. He meets  me at the gate of his workshop, Karkhana as he calls it. Manzoor Sahab  has established his workshop in an  old battered house, where one can find artisans from various  genres of Kashmiri art working at various  floors. As I climb through its steep and narrow wooden  staircase, he tells me about himself. “I started working  as an artisan of Aari when I was merely 12  years of age. I graduated from Abdul Gani Sheikh’s Karkhana as his  apprentice. Later I established my  own workshop”, he says.  At the end of this dark tunneled staircase, I finally  get to enter the Aari  Karkhana – a place where I am about to meet the most skilled and courteous old men,  who craft  my favorite pieces of ethnic apparel and accessories.

Sameer Designs - A Tale of Two Brothers Resurrecting The Crewel Embroidery

 If I had to explain my meeting with Ishfaq in a single phrase, I would say, “loyalty towards the craft”.  Ishfaq and Sameer employ around 100 artisans, 80% of them being women across various districts.  They pay them fair wages, unlike the big guns in the market. The difference is so huge that while an  artisan get 600 Rupees per piece in the local markets, at Sameer Designs they get more than  double.  “When you show respect towards the work of the artisans and make them feel valued, not  only in your mannerisms but also in the money you pay them, they show a greater commitment to  work,” believes Ishfaq. It is his commitment and dedication towards resurrecting the craft of crewel  which manifests itself in his work. Each piece crafted in this workshop looks a class apart for they  keep his promise of not letting a machine touch their products from the beginning until the very  end. 

The Genius of Ghulam Nabi Dar

 I observe him working on a box, the elaborate detailing of which leaves me totally awe struck. He captures even  the tiniest veins of a leaf with a whole multitude of tools which he sifts through to find the best fit. Chunks of  walnut wood come off as he strikes the box, digging out the famous undercut . He carefully brushes them away,  his face focused and passionate for the love of his work. He occasionally leans against the wall of boar, shutting  his eyes and imagining different patterns and designs which he then carves out with utmost skill and precision.  “When I shut my eyes, manzars (scenes) of various flowers and landscapes flash before my eyes, as if waiting  for me to draw them”, he explains. 

Flower Power - The Story of Nusrat Jahan Ara

  Simple, vivacious and determined, Nusrat Jahan Ara is a face which has inspired scores of Kashmiri  women to break free from the routine household chores and secure pensioned government jobs and  thrive in the field of business – something which is not quite common in the valley of Kashmir. 

 “Our Hand-made personal care and home care products will cover a wide range from body butters and soaps  to Jams and herbal tea. All formulations are based on locally available ingredients, either cultivated by local  farmers or grown in forest areas. These Fruits, Flowers, herbs and essential oils are then transformed using  centuries-old principles of Ayurveda and ethno-botany, all the while keeping the percentage of botanical  ingredients to at least 90% of the total weight of each product.  No harmful chemicals, petroleum products or  bleaching agents are used in any of our formulations. The name “Kashmir Essence” come from the fact that  our all ingredients have the essence of Kashmir in it. For centuries, the name Kashmir has been synonymous with beauty & magic and so are our products. We at Kashmir Essence aspire to use age old Ayurveda formulations in line with the deep knowledge and passion of our R&D team and entrepreneurs to develop a wide range of health and beauty products locally”, says a humble, yet determined Nusrat Jahan Ara

All You Need To Know About Shilajit

Shilajit, the blackish brown tar like substance has been known among the Indian Yogis as Elixir of Life, Amrita! Today as many people are turning back to natural, herbal remedies for their health and well being, how far can shilajit be in the race of top most effective herbs. One of the most potent rejuvenating anti aging blockbuster that mankind has ever known pure shilajit is attributed as having magical properties when it comes to overall healthcare. So what is this sticky, tar like substance shilajit? Let’s get to know everything about this magical black herb.


8 Skin Care Tips For The Holi After Effects

  And while you are bracing yourself for the color play of Holi with all your clothing, accessories, and food, you might add  another very important thing to your checklist - skin care. Yes. It goes without saying that the colors which are used in this  joyful festival contain harsh chemicals which cause some serious abuse to your skin and hair, leaving then dry, chapped and in  some cases causing breakouts and allergies. And it often happens that the beauty conscious in you exercises restraint to  protect your skin and care from the cruelties of colors. And restraint means not enjoying to the fullest! However, this stuff can  easily be taken care of by following a few precautions pre and post the festival.  

10 Gifts for your Mother from Kashmir

This Mother's Day add to her life story a beautiful chapter of precious moments, lovely gifts and yes, your quality time with her! Give her something to smile, something she can think of as a fond memory as she grows old. Mothers never ever forget the love that their children bestow on them; these moments to them are priceless forever :) :)


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