Land, People, Culture & Textiles

Magic Natural Dyes

The tradition of dyeing is also part of the cultural heritage of the Assamese communities. Even though there are no elaborate writings about the rich dyeing culture in Assam, the knowledge of dyeing with plants is widely spread. Being a protein fiber, eri silk absorbs the dyes very well, so the use of leaves, herbs and flowers produces great results.

What we found fascinating was that so many plants are integral to the lifestyle of the Assamese people. Turmeric is a spice that is mostly used in cooking, to give dishes a beautiful yellow color. Areca nuts are one of the most important foods in Assam because they are offered to guests when they visit. Known more commonly as “paan” in India, they are chewed along with lime and betel leaves for an energizing and euphoria-inducing effect.

Yellow Colour made from Tumeric

The leaves of the mehndi plant, or henna plant, can be harvested all year round and change shades with the seasons. The women and men of the village use henna for adornment and beautification. After the henna leaves have been crushed and ground, the resulting paste is applied to fingers, toes and hair to dye them a reddish shade. When used on silk, it becomes a camel shade. These examples of the circular use of raw materials remind us of the importance of nature and the interconnectedness it engenders, whether it be between tradition and weather, lifestyle and cooking, or garments and seasons.

Mehndi Leaves / Henna Leaves

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Famous Eri Silk of Assam – Making & Weaving

The cultivation and weaving of wild silk are rooted in the life and culture of the people of North East India, especially in the state of Assam in India. From the various types of silk of Assam, the rather unknown eri silk is particularly fascinating, as it is processed without killing the silkworm. Commonly silk cocoons are boiled with the worm inside to maintain one continuous filament, which results in a smooth and shiny fabric. Interestingly the eri silkworm spins short segments of a filament and creates a cocoon that is open at one end – enabling the moth to emerge. This peace silk is therefore a very popular fibre among vegans and Buddhists.

The humid climate of Northeast India is very favourable for the eri culture. Rural and tribal women traditionally carry out the processing, spinning and weaving as part of their daily life.

Process : For around 30 days the silkworm grows and munches on castor leaves until it reaches its final size. It then starts to spin its cocoon, which takes another 15 days. Once the moth leaves its cocoon, the silk is processed. In some areas, the silkworm is considered a delicacy and is also eaten. The empty cocoons are degummed by boiling in water, made into small cakes resembling cotton pads and then thrown against the mud houses for drying. Once the cakes are dry, they are used for spinning which is done similarly to spinning wool.

Eri Silk – Image from :Pinterest
Castor Leaves- Pics by Abhijit
Castor Leaves – Pics by Abhijit
Eri Cocoon- From where yarn is made..Pics by : Abhijit

Eri silk is funnily enough also known as the silk of the poor. The status of eri clothes in the folklife of Assam is reflected in an old Assamese proverb ‘Dair pani, erir kani’, which implies that while curd (yoghurt) cools, eri cloth warms up a person (Chakravorty et al, 2010). Nevertheless, this eri silk has excellent qualities: it is very strong, combining the elegance of silk with the comfort of cotton and warmth of wool.

The more it is worn, the softer it gets and it is a great textile to be worn all year round. Its texture, especially when woven with handspun yarn, is profoundly beautiful – always changing with the charismatic touch of imperfection. The social enterprise we are KAL is creating contemporary products with eri silk by working closely together with artisans in Assam.

IndiaAssamEri silkSilk

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Sabai Laptop bags – Unique, Handmade and Eco Friendly

These beautiful handmade laptop bags are introduced to promote :

  • Uniqueness
  • Durability
  • Recycle Concept
  • Endurance
  • Handwoven crafts
  • Against Animal Cruelty
  • Make in India

These beautiful hand crafted laptop bags can be customised based on :

  • Colour preferences
  • Dimensions
  • Shapes
  • Order Size

These bags are very trendy and promote eco friendliness.

These bags can also be used at the Spas, Ayurveda Centres, Yoga Retreats and the likes .

“Amee Tomake Bhalobashi”- says Nellie N Kevin Wong

Adviser of the Year 2019

Nellie has extensive experience in the finance industry having worked in Singapore and Melbourne. As a Certified Financial Planner and authorised representative of Count Financial Ltd Nellie’s focus is on assisting clients to achieve their lifestyle and financial goals. Her areas of expertise include wealth creation and protection, superannuation, capital transition and investment.

Over almost ten years of dedication to O’Brien’s Nellie has developed highly valued professional relationships with her clients who seek Nellie’s direction as their trusted advisor. 

This is demonstrated in her acknowledgement as Adviser of the Year 2019 by Count Financial. Nellie is a director of the firm and leads the Financial Planning services.

Nellie Wong

” I have always had this amazing connection with India through our very good friend Parag, who is from India. I have always been fascinated by the different cultures that exists within the country. India has this magnificent touch of warmth and kindness. I have been involved in causes that supports children and ladies at risk. They are St Jude India Childcare Centre, FHI and Apne Aap Org, (Kolkata). People in Kolkata have big hearts to help the less fortunate ones. Amee tomake bhalobashi Kolkata.

Some of my favourite picks from India are Indian food, Butter Chicken, Vibrant cultures and festivals.

I admire the creative work, done by craftsmen under the Daroonjinish banner. With the times changing I believe there will be a big push for Eco friendly and sustainable products around us and in our homes.

My hobbies include reading, bush walking and a major part of my time spent in social work and groups that I support.

Contents : Nelly Fung // Images & Concept:

“Shiggiree Dekha Hobay Kolkata”- says Judith Penak


Judith Penak was born and raised in the fashion capital of Prague, Czech Republic before she came to Australia in 1983. Judith inherited the artistic genes of her mother and grandfather. By delving into fashion from a young age, she quickly mastered her skills in dress-making and expert tailoring. Judith started her brand in 1991 before officially re branding it to Judith Penak Couture in 2013.


Judith, many fashion accolades include 2007 Australian Masters of Fashion Awards “Best Designer of the Year”, the winner of 2011 “BMW Caulfield Cup Classic Style Award”, runner up for “Best Dressed Lady” in 2016 Jaguar Style Stakes – Dubai World Cup. Most recently Judith Penak Couture won, by public vote, the designation of Most Popular Bridal Gown Designer – second place in Australia.

Judith Penak

My connections with Kolkata city is very deep, as my dear Uncle George was working in India in 60’s and we were in close contact with him, Uncle George being my mum’s brother. There are so many great connections with Kolkata few of them being Mother Teresa, the famous Howrah Bridge, Fashion and beautiful Bengali ladies.

“My very first order for shopping bags of Judith Penak Couture brand is from lovely Daroonjinish brand. I love how this brand is helping in bringing the artisans, craftsmen and international customers, get closer and work as one beautiful family. I love everything about how this brand promotes eco-friendly , chemical free and against animal cruelty products.

Daroonjinish for Judith Penak Couture

I love “Shiggiree Dekha Hobay Kolkata” because I want to meet all those beautiful children of St Jude India Childcare Centre, Kolkata and beautiful talented ladies and children from Apne Aap Org, Kolkata. I also admire the beautiful work done by Fly Higher India ( FHI) .

I look forward to my trip to Kolkata, India and connect with many friends who I have been connected with via social media. Every step we take makes us only get closer.” – Judith Penak, Founder/Owner- Judith Penak Couture

Images copyright : Daroonjinish // Contents: Judith Penak

“Kheeday Peche” – says Tim Roman

Tim Roman, a proud Australian, doting father and enthusiastic creative writer. His connection with India is through cinema, food, cricket and social work.

Tim Roman

What inspires me most about the Daroonjinish approach is the care and respect they show their remarkable artisans. They bridge the gap in culture between Westerners such as myself who love their crafts, and the wonderful women who make these stunning pieces with unrivalled skill, care and attention.

The fact these amazing works of art are eco-friendly is important to me because in these times of global warming, it can be easy to fall into the trap of accepting mass-produced goods. Knowing there are no machines involved, just passionate Bengali artisans using what is around them makes supporting their work even more rewarding.

I believe strongly in closing the obscene gap between rich and poor in this world, no matter where such people live. I have been proud to make a small contribution to wonderful Kolkatan organisations like Apne Aap Org and St Jude India Childcare Centre, who work constantly to shine a light on inequality and then build the confidence and independence of artisans, poverty-stricken children and thousands of others who, through no fault of their own, struggle with hardship.

My connection with India has been largely through cultural assets such as film. Movies like The Lunchbox, featuring the unmatched acting talent of sadly departed Irrfan Khan, gave me a pathway into the intensity and richness of Indian cinema. I’m a passionate music fan too and early in my university days I encountered Anglo-Indian pop artists like Asian Dub Foundation and Cornershop who spoke truth about the challenge of growing up in an immigrant community and finding acceptance through like-minded family and friends.

I am currently completing a Masters of Creative Writing at University of Melbourne. Having worked for many years in journalism and corporate communications (I am currently employed by the Victorian Government in such a role) I was keen to test my abilities to come up with more creative prose and open myself up to more enjoyable forms of expression. I’m reading the magnificent Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor and its satirical eye, cast playfully over the Mahabharata, fits my mindset perfectly. Satire is an underrated art form, particularly when it kicks upwards to those in positions of cultural or economic superiority.

For all my lofty cultural goals, I’m forever a sucker for great food, no matter which cuisine it comes from and that’s why picking my favourite Bengali phrase ‘kheeday peche’ wasn’t much of a challenge!

— Tim Roman, Digital Content Advisor, Victorian Government

Image Copyright : // Contents : Tim Roman