This royal of Mewar is on a mask-making mission

UDAIPUR: Nivritti Kumari Singh Deo (33), daughter-in-law of the former royalty of Mewar, has been on a mission to make masks for over a month. After distributing more than 100 masks to City Palace staff, Nivritti, mother of two daughters, is ready to do more.

Her youngest son is less than a year old, but she's determined about the task at hand. Nivritti's choice in textiles is traditional. He has sewn colorful masks in Bhandej and Sambhalpuri patterns.

I am from Patna Bolangir in west Odisha and Sambalpuri is the traditional hand woven ikat fabric from the area. Now with Udaipur being my home (after marrying Lakshya Raj Singh Mewar) and 'Bandhej' being the traditional art of tying and dyeing from Rajasthan, I wanted to try something different with traditional textiles instead of just routine. Factory stuff and as long as one incorporates safety protocols, that's fine, says the cheery lady, who loves to experiment with vibrant and colorful textiles.

The fabrics were readily available at home, and the masks are pure cotton, washable and reusable, she says. As a home science student, sewing wasn't too difficult for her. “I learned to sew and knit during home science classes at the Jesus and Mary Convent, New Delhi. Over the years, I've managed to knit a pair of mufflers and sweaters and I've also done a little cross stitching, she says.

It's quite fun, but before embarking on my mission to make masks, I had to learn how to use the modern sewing machine from scratch, with the help of my home staff. This was followed by learning the art of making masks from an online video from the website called 'Good Housekeeping'. I have to confess that it has been a very therapeutic and rewarding experience, he adds.

The legacy inspires

“During World War II, my great-grandmother Rajmata Kailash Kumari Devi from Patna Bolangir organized a group of ladies in the palace to knit sweaters and sew uniforms for the soldiers. They organized woolen clothes, blankets, and other supplies to send to the Indian soldiers who were involved in the war. So much so that it became a small craft industry, she says.