The village Naini in Allahabad is the major producer of Moonj-wild grass products. Moonj and Kaasa are the types of wild grass that richly grow near the banks of the river in and around vast areas of Allahabad. Allahabad, Gorakhpur and Behraich in Uttar Pradesh are the major centers for moonj crafts. The manufacturing process involve, simple techniques that are skillfully done using natural grass and basic tools.
Moonj Basket and It's Importance
The grass is first dyed to a specific color. (Kaccha rang) Raw colors are used to dye the grass. The water is boiled at a high temperature in aluminum container and the colour powder is added to it. The dried off-white Moonj grass is immersed in the boiling solution to absorb the colour. The grass is removed once it attains color and allowed to dry under shade. The dyed grass is mainly used to create and highlight the motif patterns. Red and green are the two main dominating colours used.
The making process is time consuming. Dried Moonj grass is made into small knots which are called 'Balla'. This Balla is soaked in cold water for some time before coiling to ensure flexibility. The grass Kaasa is used for inside stuffing, wherein Moonj is used to wrap around Kaasa grass to make coil. The formed coil is winded in a series to make the base of basket. Once the base is formed, the walls of the basket are made using the same technique. These coils are stitched together to make the basket strong. The handles then are stitched with the grass.