Meet the social entrepreneur behind India’s ‘pressed flower’ art

Emilee Geist

Jatropha, ixora and other pressed flowers adorn tabletops, lampshades and stationary products. Gulmohar and eucalyptus seedpods are sanded and shaped into incense-holders. Assorted seeds are  polished and beaded into jewellery. These are some of the offerings at Shradhanjali, an eco-lifestyle label co-founded by Abha Tewari in 1980. “The goal has […]

Jatropha, ixora and other pressed flowers adorn tabletops, lampshades and stationary products. Gulmohar and eucalyptus seedpods are sanded and shaped into incense-holders. Assorted seeds are  polished and beaded into jewellery. These are some of the offerings at Shradhanjali, an eco-lifestyle label co-founded by Abha Tewari in 1980.

“The goal has been to do business, but differently; to create original beautiful products, in a harmonious, growth-fostering environment for the team, while taking utmost care of the environment, of our raw material suppliers and our customers and finally, contributing to [our hometown] Auroville’s growth,” says Abha.

Abha Tewari founded Shradhanjali, an eco-conscious, social enterprise in 1980. Image: Courtesy Shradhanjali

Most of the flowers used are grown organically in its garden, using drip irrigation and recycled water. Other botanicals are handpicked from Auroville’s forests. “Part of the profit from Beejika, the seed range, goes back to the forest group for replanting,” she adds.

The 40-year-strong social enterprise has strengthened its commitment to female empowerment over the last decade. Its 21-member team is comprised mainly of women, several of whom are the sole breadwinners of their family.

With the advent of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, Shradhanjali’s orders have dwindled. “We have only had small orders from a client in Europe but they too, are strongly impacted by the virus and struggling to find new ways of functioning,” adds Abha who had to shut operations at the end of July.

While hoping to reopen, she continues to look out for her team. Shradhanjali released a series of Covid Testimonies, via social media, that features its workers and their individual stories.

The idea is to garner financial support, perhaps through a scholarship fund for their children’s education, says Abha. Meanwhile, the company has cleared all final settlements to help members through this challenging time.

Shradhanjali’s existing product range is available online at Auroville.com and iTokri.com. Bulk orders can be placed at Shradhanjaliauroville.com. To learn more about how you can support team Shradhanjali, email [email protected] Find them at @shradhanjaliauroville.

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