‘Paramparaven’, an exhibition and sale of exquisite hand-crafted artistry by tsunami-affected women entrepreneurs from Mirissa, took place amidst a great deal of excitement and anticipation on Friday, 24 and Saturday, 25 November 2006 at the Grand Ballroom of the Galle Face Hotel. The event was organised by HSBC and South Asia Partnership Sri Lanka (SAPSRI).
The chief guests on the first day were Dian Gomes, Group Director, MAS Holdings and his wife, Dehara Gomes, while those on the second day of the exhibition were First Lady Shiranthi Rajapakse and Otara Gunawardene, Managing Director, ODEL (Private) Limited.
The exhibition was unusual in that it opened the eyes of visitors to the different dimensions to beralu lace and made for a platform to give a fresh perspective of its artistry. As one visitor commented, "Modern designs blended with traditional heritage to compete with the modern world and its market."
Firstly, there was coloured beralu lace – a completely new departure from the traditional and elegant shades of white, ivory and beige. Moreover, the designs, too, were innovative and eye-catching.
The vibrant shades of beralu adorned a variety of items, including household linen such as delicate tablecloths, table runners, serviettes and tablemats, exquisite bed sheets and pillowcases, gorgeous bed spreads; clothes such as pretty blouses, smart shirts, ethnic kurtas and sarongs and even a stunning collection of saris; and accessories like stylish shoes and slippers and chic handbags and purses. The fashion shows each evening displayed the wide range of beralu products on offer while the masked dancers added character and flavour to the event.
In addition to beralu products, the exhibition also showcased products by other, award-winning craftsmen and women. These will include skilfully sculpted clay items, finely crafted silver work, vivid lacquer work and beautifully grained wooden items as well as item made of paduru (coconut fibre) and traditional masks.
The exhibition was a culmination of a year’s effort on the part of HSBC and SAPSRI to uplift the tsunami-affected beralu lace-makers of Mirissa, in the south of Sri Lanka, thus making it a celebration of their triumph against the odds. Yet, even more, its objective was to revitalise the beralu lace industry and transform the way in which the industry was regarded, thereby generating business for the aspiring women entrepreneurs.
Shiroma D Jayawickrama, Manager Public Affairs, HSBC said, "The success of the exhibition and the entire project, as whole, was in that it raised the income levels of two hundred beralu lace makers from Mirissa as well as four hundred indirect beneficiaries. It has also shown people the different ways in which beralu can be used. Even more importantly, it has changed the attitude and outlook of the lace makers, who were initially quite reluctant to try these innovative colours and designs! The positive response to the exhibition has now convinced them otherwise. "