Gift hampers comprising Indian rosewood sandook (chest), pashmina shawls, Kashmiri saffron, Pekoe Darjeeling, Nilgiri Tea, Araku Coffee, Sundarbans honey, and Zighrana Ittar were presented to G20 heads of the states and governments when they gathered in New Delhi over the weekend for the bloc’s annual summit. The summit was the biggest such gathering India hosted in four decades and marked the culmination of India’s year-long presidency of the grouping of the world’s largest economies.
The products in the hamper were chosen taking into consideration Indian cultural traditions and unique bio-diversity. The sandook with embedded brass strip symbolizes Indian workmanship. It has a special place in Indian cultural and folk legends.
Kashmiri saffron, which is also known as red gold, is the world’s most expensive spice valued for its culinary and medicinal value.
Aromatic Pekoe Darjeeling is grown on the hills of West Bengal at 3000-5000 feet and Nilgiri Tea in the mountains of South India at an elevation of 1000-3000 feet. Araku Coffee is the world’s first terroir-mapped coffee grown on plantations in Andhra Pradesh without the use of machines or chemicals. The coffee is organic and the cultivation is sustainable.
Sundarbans multiflora mangrove honey is sourced from the world’s largest mangrove forest on the delta of the Ganga, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal. The honey is less viscous and mirrors the bio-diversity of the area. It blends the nectar of mangrove flowers such as Khalisha, Bani, and Garan. Sundarban honey is also high in flavonoids.
The Kashmiri pashmina shawl is made of wool from 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 the goat. Skilled artisans hand-spin, weave, and embroider their delicate fibers using age-old processes. Pashmina was once an indicator of rank and nobility and symbolized bestowing honour.
Zighrana Ittar from Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh showcases a centuries-old tradition of perfume crafting. Artisans gather rare blossoms of jasmine and roses at dawn when their fragrance is most potent to make the perfume involving hydro-distillation.