Written specially for Vikalp Sangam
As you take the turn around a corner of the mountain road from Berinag and head towards Tripura Devi, the red rooftops of Avani’s campus can be seen draped over the 5 acre hillside it sits on, at an altitude of 5117 feet above sea level. We had traveled down from Munsiari, known for the traditional weaving skills of the Shauka community, and had come to meet and interact with Avani, an NGO set up in 1999. Walking through the gates, the yellow mud plastered building you first encounter is the Dyeing unit. It is a small work-shed, with dye baths and skeins of reds, blues and brown dyed spun yarn stacked on shelves. There is a pot of orange pigment being strained through a piece of white cloth – from the seeds of Annatto (Bixa orellana) procured from south India, though the tree itself is a native to Brazil. Later in the evening, Rashmi Bharati, co-founder and Director of Avani, tests the colour on a piece of art paper- its a blazing burnt sienna. But she wants to give it a local name.
A dye bath where indigo leaves are fermented
Wall painting using natural pigments
Contact the author
Watch Echoes of the Earth – a video on the work of Avani