By Rabindra Debbarma and translated from Kokborok by Manisha Debbarma
Bamboo is one of those materials which can be used in a myriad of ways: to cook food, to eat, to build furniture, to build houses and also to make daily-use objects like toothbrushes, wall hangings, bins, boxes, etc. You probably have at least one thing at home that’s made of bamboo. Being an environment-friendly material, a lot of people are gravitating towards it, and they like using products made of bamboo. If a bamboo gets damaged, one can just compost it, so it is a great alternative to plastic products.
In Tripura, bamboo is used in almost every aspect of life. It also has a commercial aspect. Tripura’s tribals make different kinds of beautiful products with bamboo and sell them in the market to earn their livelihood.
One such product that is sold in markets is a bamboo pen stand. To make this, first, a bamboo pole is cut from the forest, and it is cut finely to have smooth edges. If the bamboo isn’t smoothened, applying paint evenly becomes a problem. It is then cut into smaller parts. The bamboo has to be straight to be able to make any good products from it. The bamboo is then put in the fire and burned to blacken it—this ensures that insects don’t eat it.
After being taken out from the fire, the outer surface of the bamboo is again smoothened, and the bamboo is cut into smaller pieces about 3-4 inches in length. The smaller pieces are then further cut down into small sticks. The sticks are also smoothed out and cleaned.
Using fevicol, the sticks are then glued in the form of a square, one on top of the others. To make the spiralling pattern, the consecutive layers are glued off center little by little. This process is repeated until one has the height of the pen stand one needs. One end of the pen stand is then sealed with two pieces of bamboo.
Bamboo products such as these are made across Tripura’s tribal villages, as it is a viable source of income. With just one bamboo pole, one can make multiple products which can sell for anything between 1,500–2,000 rupees. The tribals also create such products to decorate their homes.
Using bamboo products like these is an easy way to avoid contributing to plastic pollution, which is already a global disaster. I hope people start introducing more bamboo products into their daily lives and keep the environment in mind while purchasing products.
About the author: Rabindra Debbarma lives in Tripura. He is a beekeeper and is working towards growing his bee farm. He loves to travel and learn about what’s new in the world.