For the last 55 years, the Krishnanagar Women Utility Cooperative Society run by Chhaya Dey has taken up this initiative. Her dolls represent tribes, communities, gods and goddess and sometimes even 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. “There is huge demand for these products and every fair I have attended, have seen these dolls sold out within two days.”
“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 informed. Unlike other fabric and plastic made dolls, the striking feature of Chhaya’s dolls happens to be medicated cotton, which is totally safe for children.
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.”
The price range of general category dolls is between Rs 100 and Rs 120, while the special ones, like those of deities, are priced around 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.