Agartala (Tripura) [India], Dec. 12 : Doll-making is emerging as a major source of employment for women in Tripura. The credit for this initiative must go to the Krishnanagar Women Utility Cooperative Society run by Chhaya Dey For Chhaya, dolls have been her best friends for the past 55 years.
So much so, that her specially designed cotton dolls have made her a famed entrepreneur. Her dolls symbolize tribes, communities, gods and goddess, animals, flower vases and other decorative items.
Chhaya has formed a women's cooperative and training centre, where she trains more than 250 women so that they can earn from their homes.
Chhaya said she realised her latent talent for doll making while she was a child and the appreciation from all motivated her to pursue it as a passion.
"There is huge demand for these products and every fair I have attended, have seen these dolls sold out within two days," said Chhaya.
"Initially, I use to train only eight to ten women, but gradually it went up to thirty. The ONGC asked me to train some of their women, then the Ministry of Textiles launched the Guru Sirsha Parampar scheme, and this year, the ICA department has selected me as a guru," she added.
Unlike other fabric and plastic made dolls, the striking feature of Chhaya's dolls happens to be medicated cotton, where it is totally unharmful for children to keep dolls in their mouths.
Chhaya makes the bodies of the doll by wrapping cotton and bandage cloth in an aluminum wire for an accurate shape instead of using mud in the traditional way.
She then sews it with suitable clothing and jewellery for the final shape. Monika Das, a trained doll-maker, said, "I came to know about this doll making centre, so I joined. I can do this in my leisure time at my house. I can earn something with this for my family and will help to educate my children. I enjoy working here along with everyone and know that it will be of great help to run my family better." Sibani Banik said, "Most of us here are housewives and it is not necessary for everyone to get a government job.
This is a skill which we can do with old clothes and sitting at our homes, we can earn something; otherwise, we are dependent on our husbands for pocket money.
This is a good source of earning, as everyone needs money." The price range of general category dolls is between Rs.
100 and Rs.120, while the special ones, like those of deities, are priced at Rs.300 to Rs.350. Chhaya was also invited by the North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC) and the Tripura government's Information and Cultural Affairs (ICA) department to train and as well as participate with her products in fairs held outside the state.
Apart from exhibiting her creativity in various fairs in the state, she showcased her work, last year, at the famed annual India International Trade Fair (IITF) in New Delhi and at a fair in Hyderabad.