India’s Gift to G20 Leaders: A Treasure Trove of Artisanal Delights
Kashmiri saffron and pashmina, Darjeeling and Nilgiri tea, Araku Coffee, and Zighrana Ittar—these are just a few of the exquisite Indian treasures that adorned the gift hamper presented to G20 leaders by the host country, India. Let’s delve into the contents of this extraordinary gift basket that showcases the rich cultural heritage and craftsmanship of India.
Sheeshamwood Sandook With Brass Patti
‘Sandook’ is the Hindi word for a treasure chest, and it holds a special place in Indian culture and folk legends. Traditionally made from solid old wood or metal, adorned with intricate embellishments, these chests are epitomes of exquisite workmanship. The Sandook presented to the G20 leaders was meticulously handcrafted using Sheesham, also known as Indian Rosewood, prized for its strength, durability, distinctive grain patterns, and rich color. The delicate brass patti (strip) was intricately etched and embedded onto the wood, adding to its beauty and significance.
Saffron, the world’s most exotic and expensive spice, has been revered across cultures for its culinary and medicinal value. Kashmiri Saffron, with its intense aromatic profile, vibrant color, and unmatched potency, stands out due to the unique climate and soil of Kashmir. These factors result in saffron with a higher concentration of essential oils. Beyond its culinary uses, saffron is rich in antioxidants and offers numerous health benefits.
Pekoe Darjeeling and Nilgiri Tea
Darjeeling tea, often referred to as the “Champagne of Teas,” is highly regarded worldwide. It is meticulously crafted from tender tea shoots handpicked from the misty hills of West Bengal at altitudes ranging from 3000 to 5000 feet. Nilgiri Tea, originating from southern India’s spectacular mountain range, boasts a mild yet bright and brisk liquor with a clean flavor profile. Both teas exemplify the delicate art of tea cultivation and infusion.
Araku Coffee, the world’s first terroir-mapped coffee, is cultivated on organic plantations in the scenic Araku Valley of Andhra Pradesh. Unlike mass-produced coffee, Araku Coffee is grown by hand in small farms without the use of machines or chemicals, ensuring its organic and sustainable nature. This artisanal coffee is known for its unique texture and a symphony of flavors that create a smooth, well-balanced cup.
The Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, is home to wild colonies of honeybees. The tradition of beehive hunting, predating beehive farming, is still practiced by the local people. Sundarbans honey reflects the area’s biodiversity, blending nectar from various mangrove flowers to create a harmonious blend of sweet and earthy notes. Besides being 100% natural and pure, Sundarbans honey is rich in flavonoids and offers valuable health benefits.
The Kashmiri Pashmina shawl is a work of art with enchanting stories woven into its fabric. Made from the raw, unspun wool of the Changthangi goat, found at a height of 14,000 feet above sea level, Pashmina is collected by combing, not shearing, the goat’s undercoat. Skilled artisans spin, weave, and embroider these delicate fibers using traditional techniques, resulting in a light, warm, and intricate shawl that embodies timeless elegance and craftsmanship. In ancient times, Pashmina was a symbol of rank and nobility.
Zighrana Ittar is a masterpiece of fragrance from Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh. This essential oil, known as Ittar or perfume, is derived from botanical sources and represents a centuries-old tradition of perfume crafting. Master artisans gather rare blossoms like jasmine and roses at dawn, extracting essential oils through hydro-distillation, and allowing them to mature over time. The result is Zighrana Ittar, known for its unique and natural scent profile. Some niche and artisanal perfumes also incorporate Ittar into their creations.
Khadi, synonymous with Mahatma Gandhi, is an eco-friendly clothing material cherished for its beautiful texture and versatility across seasons. It also holds significant historical importance in India’s freedom struggle, symbolizing sustainable fashion. From its origins on the spinning wheel during India’s independence movement to its status as a marker of high quality and luxury today, khadi remains a beacon of sustainable fashion.
To commemorate India’s G20 presidency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released special G20 postage stamps and coins on July 26 of this year. These G20 India Stamps and Coins were unveiled during the inauguration of Bharat Mandapam at Pragati Maidan. The designs of both the coins and stamps draw inspiration from India’s G20 logo and the theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘One Earth. One Family. One Future.’
India’s gift to the G20 leaders is a testament to the nation’s rich cultural heritage, craftsmanship, and commitment to sustainable and artisanal traditions. Each item in the gift basket tells a story of India’s diverse and vibrant culture, making it a truly remarkable offering to the world.