Ties between India and Iran are strengthening after PM Narendra Modi visited Iran a few months ago. And one of the things that he talked about was the cultural agreements between the two countries. To continue the relations, now the two countries have been brought together by Dastkari Haat Samiti, founded by Jaya Jaitly, to promote handicraft at the Dilli Haat today for their 32nd Annual Dastkari Haat Craft Bazaar.

The inauguration ceremony of the festival was attended by the Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran, Gholam Raza Ansari, director general of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Amarendra Khatua and Jaya Jaitly. Minister of Textile, Smriti Zubin Irani, was also invited to the festival but she could not make it for the inauguration.

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However, Irani sent a note to Dastkari Haat Samiti stating that she is pleased to know that Dastkari Haat Samiti and the Iran Culture House have come together to celebrate 60 years of Indo-Iran cultural ties by organising Exhibition and Workshop of Iranian Crafts at Dilli Haat.

The festival has invited nine Iranian artists to join the 200 Indian craftspeople to showcase their products. Two of the nine Iranian artists who are joining their Indian counterparts are women.

Dastkari Haat Samiti
32nd Annual Dastkari Haat Craft Bazaar

“Whenever we talk about two products, textile and plantation, where we are negotiating the tariff, women workers dominate by 63%. Women crafts workers inherit more by work than by memory in the textile segment. Also, they inherit their craft by institutionalising them,” Khatua told SheThePeople.TV.

“The position of women in Iran is completely different from what you hear over here”

About how these exhibitions help women artisans, he added, “Between India and Iran, as far as textile sector, organic plantation, design, weaving etc are concerned, more women have been doing the tasks than men. Therefore, if we do this kind of event, it will not only inspire them but also create skill building through exchange of skills between the two countries.”

The honourable Ambassador of Iran, Raza Ansari, busted the myth about women of Iran who are considered to be backward because of their style of clothing. He told us, “The position of women in Iran is completely different from what you hear over here. For example, if we talk about education, the students who go to study in universities, 60% of the total population is women. For that they have to pass a very difficult national exam and women are competing with men and coming out much more successful than them.”

Jaya Jaitly
Jaya Jaitly, Founder of Dastkari Haat Samiti

Adding to Raza Ansari’s view and appreciating the two women artisans who have come from Iran to India, Jaya, who founded Dastkari Haat Samiti about four decades ago, said, “I have gone to Iran and seen that the women over there are absolutely equal citizens barring the fact that they cover their bodies. I am glad that two women artisans have joined us.”

She added, “One of them is a very traditional lady from the south of Iran and she is wearing a traditional outfit from her place and the other one is a painter. I visited her house in Iran and asked her if she would like to come to India, she immediately agreed. She did not ask her father, brother or any other men for any kind of permission.”