It is a moment of pride for artisan Manmohan Saini from Mahoba district of Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be giving away mementos, specially crafted by him, while welcoming foreign dignitaries attending the G20 Leaders Summit on September 9 and 10.
Saini said these “rare” mementos are called ‘kamalam’, and he has prepared some 50 of these for the grand event. But, what is so special about these mementos? “It’s the design that makes these mementos rare and special,” said Saini, who has spent more than 30 years of his life designing brass artifacts and has mastered the art form.
“It is in the form of a special lotus prepared in a way that a slight rotation will open its outermost petals and, on rotating further, will result in a fully bloomed flower,” he said, adding that he is the only artisan who can prepare these.
According to Saini, it is because of his expertise that officials from Uttar Pradesh Handicraft Development and Marketing Corporation Ltd approached him eight months ago and asked him to prepare the special mementos for the G20 summit.
“Back then, I took it lightly, thinking G20 will be like any other event but when I saw it on TV recently, I got to know that it is something big and I am fortunate enough to be chosen for the task,” he said.
Saini further said it took him almost six months to complete the entire consignment of 50 mementos. Elaborating on their specifications, he said the ‘kamalam’ is five inches in length and bears eight small and big petals each. He added that in 2016, during the BJP’s ‘Parivartan’ rally, party leader Pushpendra Singh Chandel and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya gifted the prime minister a ‘kamalam’ prepared by him.
But, it is not for the first time that Prime Minister Modi has chosen an indigenously prepared artifact to be presented to foreign dignitaries so as to highlight India’s unique culture. In 2022, during the G7 summit in Germany, he gifted a rare ‘gulabi minakari’ set of cufflinks to US President Joe Biden and a matching brooch to the First Lady. The rare artwork is only done in UP’s Varanasi district and is an art of enamelling and adding pink colour to silver artifacts. This pink colour is prepared from gold oxide, which gives it the name ‘gulabi’.