Skip to content

Bikash Mal

Bikash Mal was born and raised in Bolpur, a small city in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Originally his ancestors lived in a village forty kilometres away from Rampurhat but his father took the decision to leave for Bolpur.

For generations, his family has been practising the date palm craft. Bikash, however, also makes traditional musical instruments like the Ektara, Khomok and Dotara while continuing the date palm craft to make daily-use products like baskets and hot cases out of date palm leaves.

Bikash had immense interest in musical instruments and learnt the craft seeing other craftsmen practising. As a child, Bikash enjoyed watching his father and grandfather work together. He loved the twang of the delicate single-stringed ektara, the constant tweaking and tightening of the dotara to evoke the exact musical notes.

Bikash has continued the practise of these crafts for the past decade. While most of his family focuses on the date palm leaf craft, he still builds musical instruments. As an effort to ensure the continuity of the heritage, he teaches local school children, usually teenage boys. They arrive promptly after their school hours and sit with him for hours to learn. “They come to me to learn so that they can help their families and also support their own education.”, Bikash explains.

As far as raw materials are concerned, Bikash does not face much of a challenge as most of it is natural and readily available. The Ektara requires a hollow drum for resonance. Bikash collects pumpkins or bushel gourds from the Kolkata market which are hollowed, dried and carved into the correct shape. For the leaf craft, his students assist and collect the dry date palm leaves from the forests close by for which he pays them.

Bikash’s family is the only one practising these two crafts in Bolpur. If he’s lucky, he earns about 15,000 to 20,000 rupees a month. During the off-peak seasons, it comes down to less than half of this.

“I want my daughter to study and take up some other job. This will not help her survive in the future. Already, the demand for traditional instruments are going down. For my part, I am sharing my knowledge with the students so the craft is not lost.”, he confesses sadly.

Charakha Workshop

Charakha Workshop

Charakha Workshop

Is learning to spin your own yarn an art or a skil! While we dont know the answer to that, learning to spin yarn is definitely theraupatic. It also supports weavers who weave our fabric.

In a world consumed by consumerism, how lovely it would be if we all know where our fabric comes from! If you would like to spin yarn from cotton, wear fabric woven from your yarn, then the Charakha workshop is just the thing.

Support the weavers amd spin your own yarn!

Join us for the Charakha workshop!

Next workshop date - 28th and 29th Dec 2023

For more details WA us at 6364665722