Dreamcatchers are all the rage these days, with everyone owning or wanting one. These webbed hoops studded with feathers and beads look delicate and beautiful, and come in a variety of patterns and colours, which is why they are used as decorative items at homes, offices, and in cars even.
If you’re wondering what’s their purpose (do they really give you happy dreams?) and where they actually came from, we’ve got the answers.
Legend Has It
Dreamcatchers originated among a native American tribe called the Ojibwa. This tribe believed that the night comes with both, good and bad dreams. When someone hangs a dreamcatcher above their sleeping area, these dreams pass through it as the night falls. The good dreams do pass through the tiny opening at the centre of the dreamcatcher, as they are fully aware of their path. The bad ones, however, lose their path and get caught in the web-like structure. Thus, only the good dreams are passed on to the sleeping person through the feathers. This legend has been carried forward through the process of inter-tribe marriages and what we see today is the result of an age-old belief.
But owning a dreamcatcher is more of a trend today than a purposeful buy — people use it as a decorative piece (regardless of whether in enables sweet dreams). In fact, you could learn how to make your own hoop at a dreamcatcher weaving class. Those who sell it commercially look at it as a lucrative business. A dreamcatcher that’s about 2 inches in diameter is sold for Rs 300 or so in the Indian market.
We got talking to Rishi, a young fellow living in Old Manali, who not only makes and sells dreamcatchers, but also teaches people how to make them. Excerpts from our chat:
IB: How do you make a dreamcatcher — what material do you use?
I use this metal bangle to make the outer part of the web. We use thick threads to make it (the mesh design).
IB: What is the process? Do you use crochet?
It is partially crochet and some other techniques as well.
IB: Do you teach as well?
Yes, for Rs 400, I can teach you how to make a dreamcatcher, and whatever you make, you can take it home within that cost.
IB: How much time does it take to make one?
I can make one in 20-25 minutes max.
It came as a positive surprise that he actually knew how dreamcatchers work but unfortunately he didn’t know where and how they originated.
We also spoke to Nitish Thakur, a tattoo artist in Chandigarh who makes and sells dreamcatchers. When asked if he knew what dreamcatchers did, he also seemed clueless, “I just make them. Demand high hai. Bohot log kharidte hain yahan se”. It is quite disheartening to see how ancient beliefs have now become a way to make money.
The cultural backdrop of the things we fancy today is as important as knowing your own life history. Just as you have gone through a journey and boast of it proudly, these old beliefs need to be carried forward by the millennial generation. Otherwise, a few years from now, everything you hold close in the name of cultural heritage will just fade away into being mere decorative pieces.
Everyone dreams, even animals. Let those dreams have a journey. Let them have a meaning to their existence. Let those dreamcatchers have a purpose too.
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