For the G20 Leaders' two-day summit, held under India's presidency, Heads of States & Leaders representing their countries, got a special gift hampers. The summit wrapped up on Sunday. It comprised of a curated compilation of handcrafted artefacts and products, which speak volumes about Bharat’s rich cultural traditions. Some of the products are the product of centuries of tradition & cherished across the world for their unparalleled workmanship and quality. These were meticulously created by the hands of Master Craftsmen. Some products are the result of the unique bio-diversity of our country.
The hamper had the following products:
Treasured Traditions: Sheeshamwood Sandook with Brass Patti
‘Sandook’ is the Hindi word for a treasure chest. Traditionally, it is a strong box made of solid old wood or metal, with a lid on top and embellishments all over. It holds a special place in Indian cultural and folk legends, besides being an epitome of exquisite workmanship. This Sandook has been hand crafted using Sheesham (Indian Rosewood), which is valued for its strength, durability, distinctive grain patterns and rich color. The brass patti (strip) is delicately etched and embedded on to the wood, transforming the piece into a masterpiece of visual delight and tactile splendor. It is worthy of being treasure on its own, besides storing other treasures within.
Red Gold: The Saffron from Kashmir
Saffron (‘Zafran’ in Persian, ‘Kesar’ in Hindi) is the most exotic and expensive spice in the world. Across cultures and civilizations, saffron has been valued for its unparalleled culinary and medicinal value. It is a treasure of nature, both rare and enticing. Each strand of it comprises of the stigma of ‘Saffron Crocus’. The stigma's crimson hue holds the concentrated essence of sun-soaked days and cool nights. Cultivating saffron is a very labor-intensive process. It requires the delicate hand-harvesting of thousands of flowers (each flower contains three crimson stigmas) to yield a mere ounce of the spice. Kashmiri Saffron stands as a true embodiment of exclusivity and exceptional quality. Its intense aromatic profile, vibrant color and unmatched potency sets it apart. This is due to the crisp air, abundant sunlight and well-drained soil of Kashmir, which yields saffron with a higher concentration of essential oils. Apart from being a luxurious and sought after culinary spice, Saffron is abundantly rich in antioxidants and provides many health benefits.
The Champagne of Teas: Pekoe Darjeeling and Nilgiri Tea
Pekoe Darjeeling and Nilgiri Tea are two illustrious gems from Bharat’s tea tapestry, epitomizing the delicate art of tea cultivation and infusion. Darjeeling tea is the most valued tea in the world. Only tender shoots are handpicked from shrubs, located on the misty hills of West Bengal at altitudes of 3000-5000 ft. These nuances, along with the soil’s unique character get reflected in the highly aromatic and invigorating cup that comes to your table. Nilgiri Tea comes from the most spectacular mountain range in South Bharat. Cultivated amidst the mountains’ lush terrain at an elevation of 1000-3000 ft. The tea is relatively mild. At the same time, it is renowned for its bright and brisk liquor and clean flavour. It is a preferred choice for lemon of iced tea.
A cup beyond compare: Araku Coffee
Araku Coffee is the world’s first terroir mapped coffee, grown on organic plantations in the Araku Valley of Andhra Pradesh. These coffee beans bear the essence of the valley's rich soil and temperate climate. The coffee plants are cultivated by the valley's farmers who farm the land in complete harmony with nature. They work by hand in small farms and grow the coffee naturally, without the use of machines or chemicals. This ensures that the coffee is organic and the cultivation is sustainable. What the end user gets is traditional coffee powder/beans directly from a farmer’s house. Pure Arabica with a rare aromatic profile, Araku Coffee is known for its unique texture and a symphony of flavors that makes for a smooth, well-balanced cup.
Wealth from Wilderness: Sundarbans Multiflora Mangrove Honey
Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world, located on the delta formed by the confluence of Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal. It is home to wild colonies of honeybees. Before the culture of beehive farming, people used to hunt the honeycombs from the wilderness. This tradition of beehive hunting is still practised among the people of Sundarbans. The distinct and rich flavor profile of Sundarbans honey mirrors the bio-diversity of the area. It blends the nectar of various mangrove flowers like Khalisha, Bani and Garan … to create a harmony of sweet and earthy notes. It is less viscous than other types of honey. Besides being 100% natural and pure, Sundarban honey is also high in flavonoids and provides valuable health benefits.
The texture of rare luxury: Kashmiri Pashmina
The Kashmiri Pashmina shawl has many enchanting stories woven into its fabric. ‘Pashm’ means wool in Persian. But in Kashmiri, it refers to the raw unspun wool of the Changthangi goat (the world’s most unique Cashmere goat) found only at a height of 14,000 feet above sea level. The wool is collected by combing (and not shearing) the undercoat of this goat. Skilled artisans hand-spin, weave, and embroider their delicate fibers using age-old processes. The result is a light, warm and intricate shawl that embodies timeless elegance and craftsmanship. In ancient courts, Pashmina was used as an indicator of rank and nobility. The fabric was an integral part of the rituals of bestowing honor upon anyone. Every piece of clothing made using Pashmina is a rare amalgamation - of craftsmanship, of exclusivity, of legend and of style.
A Fragrant Story: Zighrana Ittar
Zighrana Ittar is a masterpiece of fragrance hailing from Kannauj, a city in Uttar Pradesh. ‘Ittar’ (meaning ‘perfume’) is an essential oil derived from botanical sources. It showcases a centuries-old tradition of exquisite perfume crafting. Skillfully distilled using a method passed down through generations, Ittar is an ode to precision and patience. Master artisans delicately gather rare blossoms like jasmine and roses at dawn, when their fragrance is most potent. Through the meticulous process of hydro-distillation, the essential oils are extracted and then matured over time, allowing the notes to harmonize and deepen. This alchemical journey culminates in Zighrana Ittar - a fragrant symphony that resonates with the rich heritage of Kannauj. Some niche and artisanal perfumes also incorporate Ittar into their creations, for its unique and natural scent profile. Zighrana Ittar transcends time, conjuring up images of ancient bazaars and royal courts, where once its scent graced the air.