Kashmiri saffron and pashmina, Darjeeling and Nilgiri tea, Araku Coffee and Zighrana Ittar are some of the Indian artisanal and agricultural gems that make up the gift hamper presented to G20 leaders by host India.
Here’s a peek inside the contents of the gift basket:
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.
The Sandook gifted to the G20 leaders was handcrafted using Sheesham (Indian Rosewood), which is valued for its strength, durability, distinctive grain patterns and rich colour. The brass patti (strip) was delicately etched and embedded on to the wood.
Saffron is the most exotic and expensive spice in the world and has been valued across cultures and civilizations for its unparalleled culinary and medicinal value. Kashmiri Saffron’s intense aromatic profile, vibrant colour 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.
Pekoe Darjeeling and Nilgiri Tea
Pekoe Darjeeling and Nilgiri Tea are two illustrious gems from Bharat’s tea tapestry, epitomising 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.
Nilgiri Tea comes from the most spectacular mountain range in southern India, cultivated amidst the mountains’ lush terrain at an elevation of 1000-3000 ft. The tea is relatively mild, and, at the same time, renowned for its bright and brisk liquor and clean flavour.
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.
Farmers 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 or beans directly from a farmer’s house.
Araku Coffee is known for its unique texture and a symphony of flavours that makes for a smooth, well-balanced cup.
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 flavour 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 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 fibres 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 honour upon anyone.
Zighrana Ittar is a masterpiece of fragrance from Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh. Ittar (perfume) is an essential oil derived from botanical sources. It showcases a centuries-old tradition of exquisite perfume crafting.
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 culminates in Zighrana Ittar. Some niche and artisanal perfumes also incorporate Ittar into their creations, for its unique and natural scent profile.
Synonymous with Mahatma Gandhi, khadi is an eco-friendly clothing material most beloved for its beautiful texture and versatility throughout the seasons. It is also one of the most important symbols of India’s freedom struggle.
From its beginnings on the spinning wheel during India’s independence movement to today being a marker of high quality and luxury, khadi has been epitomizing sustainable fashion for decades.
To commemorate India’s G20 presidency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released special G20 postage stamps and coins on July 26 this year. The G20 India Stamps and Coins were released during the inauguration of Bharat Mandapam at Pragati Maidan.
The designs of both the coins and stamps draw inspiration from India’s G20 logo and theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘One Earth. One Family. One Future’.