Tulsi Jewelry made by Marginalized Gypsy Communities
Narikuravars are a tribal gypsy community spread across different parts of south India. Marginalized for many decades they suffer from lack of access to formal education, proper jobs or hygienic living conditions. SITAWAT (South India Tribal Arts and Science Welfare Trust) and Samugam trust (www.samugam.org) are non profit organizations that have been doing significant service in creating opportunities and uplifting these communities. Since 2014, SPEED Trust (Slum People Education and Economic Development), Chennai has been partnering with these two organization in providing skill training and employment to members of the community.
Gnana Sundari, a membr of this community started SITAWAT 25 years ago. She runs Naari Wooden Jewelry manufacturing unit that produces and exports wooden beaded jewelry. Jewelry making is a traditional art that these tribal communities are known for and these light weight wooden jewelry are not only fashionable but eco friendly too. SPEED Trust has been supporting this work by sponsoring the training of young men and women from the community and helping them start their own wooden jewelry manufacturing unit.
Seva offers jewelry made of Tulsi beads by the Narikuravar community. Tulsi or holy basil is a sacred Indian plant known for its healing properties and spiritual significance. Beads made from the plant’s stem are said to offer protection and purify one’s thoughts. Devotees of Krishna wear Tulsi bead malas (necklaces) as a symbol of their devotion.
These necklaces are fair trade certified – the community members are paid fair wages in addition to other employment benefits. Buying this jewelry goes a long way in empowering this community and its youth to overcome the cycle of poverty they are in! (Check out our gallery for pictures of the Tulsi jewelry)