Meet the woman who is teaching rural folk create art from bottle gourds

Seema Prasad is enabling women, farmers, and tribals in and around Mysuru to earn their livelihood by creating artistic showpieces and utility items from bottle gourd.

Right from animals choking on it unknowingly to being a contributing factor in clogging drainage systems, plastic is one of the largest pollutants in today’s times.

Seema Prasad, a resident of Mysuru in Karnataka, has found a bizarre yet suitable alternative to plastic with bottle gourd. If you are wondering how she manages to do that, take a look at the picture below. 

Seema holding a vase made from bottle gourd.

Seema makes several items like containers, storage vessels, vases, pen stands, and decorative lampshades simply by using the thick skin of the vegetable. In 2017, she decided to extend her efforts by promoting the art form with the launch of Krishikala along with her husband Krishna Prasad. The enterprise helps rural folk make artistic creations from the humble gourd, with an intention to provide employment and income for them. Seema spearheads the training of the farmers, women, as well as tribes in this regard. 

“Farmers believe that growing bottle gourd would not yield any profit as there are not many customers who buy this ‘not particularly tasty’ vegetable. However, now they have started to understand its value and are growing it in surplus,” Seema Prasad told EdexLive.

Turning bottle gourds into art

The idea of carving artefacts from gourds occurred to Seema when she witnessed their making in Tanzania and Kenya through a non-governmental organisation. 

Seema training women to make artifacts from the vegetable.

“Many indigenous communities in Africa are well-versed with this craft and have standardised the process. Once I gained knowledge about the process and tools, I saw the possibility of using art to save the vegetable varieties,” Seema told the Deccan Herald.

Most of the items that farmers and rural women are making as part of Krishikala using bottle gourd are being sold in the market for around Rs 500 each. This in turn is enabling them to earn more money and sustain their livelihoods in a better manner. 

Seema along with the women and farmers she has trained.

Nandini, an employee at Krishikala, told the New Indian Express

“After harvesting the gourds, they are left for drying for 45 days. Later, a small hole is made and seeds are removed. After soaking the gourd overnight, the skin and insides are removed. Afterwards, it is used to create artefacts. Presently, we are also experimenting with organic colours to make them completely eco-friendly.”

Seema already has big plans for the future. She aims to set up gourd processing units in villages across Karnataka (which needs an investment of around Rs 20,000), so that people can produce and sell the products directly. She also wants to use other products like paddy, bamboo, and grass to create eco-friendly artistic craft. 

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