Broom-making is an extremely relevant example of using specialised craft skills to create items of everyday use - of the merging of utilitarianism and craft technique and skill in the artisans' hands. Broom-makers from village Kamedh in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, like the family of Sharada Verma, have been making brooms - from the leaves of the khajur
or date-palm tree (Phonenix dactylifera
) - for over seven generations. These families of broom-makers, the Bargundas, belong to the Khajurvanshi community. Their tradition - producing the very utilitarian 'broom', as a means of earning a livelihood - was not generally recognised as a 'craft'; neither were the broom-makers seen as 'craftspersons'. However, the skill required to make brooms from date-palm leaves, as well as the fact that the broom-making families are diversifying and also producing a host of decorative items from the date-palm leaf has led, eventually, to them being recognised as craftspersons.
Sharada Verma has been making brooms since she was nine years ole. She says that she learnt the skill as a child, by working with her parents and other members of her family, all of whom made brooms to sell for a living. In a regular workday, about 10-12 brooms are made, each of which can be sold for between Rs 10 and Rs 15. This tradition, as it is practised in Ujjain, is definitely hereditary. Sharada Verma was married into a family of broom-makers; her daughter, Rani, is married into a famil...