Photos by Lavanya.
Brickfields is widely known as a hub of cultural expression, particularly from the Indian and Hindu community. Besides the mainstream Indian shops, restaurants, and boutiques, there is one building that lies in the heart of Brickfields housing culture, religion, tradition, and artistry all in one place: the Temple of Fine Arts.
The Lavanya Boutique
The founder of the temple, Swami Shantanad, had a passion for the arts and crafts and held a deep respect for artisans. Therefore, among his other many endeavours, he laid the foundation for the Lavanya boutique, which reflects a deep love and appreciation for art and beauty, rooting from various ancient traditions and artisan skills from India.
Lavanya’s humble beginnings stemmed from crafts and artifacts brought to Malaysia from trips to India in suitcases, sold to friends, supporters of the temple, and art lovers. In time, this circle grew, and the need to cement the business and have a central place to showcase and sell these carefully chosen handicraft and artisan items led to the cosy and artsy boutique, currently nestled in a corner of the ground floor of the Temple of Fine Arts.
What You Can Find at the Boutique
The items available in Lavanya, which consist of a wide range of jewellery, apparel, artwork, paintings, furniture, and decorative items, are carefully chosen and bought directly from the craftsmen and artisans (from India), cutting out the middle man. The collections are diverse and rich in variety, from terracotta figurines to Tanjore art, from Kalamkari paintings t Kanchipuram weaves, and each piece or item has a rich heritage story to tell.
The people behind Lavanya have also established the Shivanjali Crafts in Coimbatore, South India. It is a handicraft centre that provides opportunities to impoverished and underprivileged women, teaching them to hone and learn a valuable skill, allowing them to earn a decent living and support themselves. The crafts and apparel they make such as children’s and adults’ traditional apparel like salwar kameez and kurti, dolls, home decorations, and furnishings, are sold in Lavanya and have become increasingly popular among patrons from all over the world.
Stepping inside Lavanya, you can view a glimpse into traditional Indian artistic culture, found in unique designs and elements that reflect careful and intricate craftsmanship. It’s hard not to be amazed by the detailed workmanship and beautiful carvings, knowing they all were made from human hands instead of machines or 3D Printers. Using basic materials such as clay, stone, wood, fabric, and metal, the talent, hard work, and passion of the artisans who have made them are clearly displayed in their work. Since the items come from all around India, there are various different traditions and cultural elements reflected in the details. Visit Lavanya to learn more about the cultural background of their fine artisan items, and if you decide to bring a piece home, know that your payment is going to a worthy cause.
All nominal profits from the items that they sell are channelled to the charitable activities of the temple, such as providing funds for the free medical clinic, scholarships for the dance and music students that practice at the temple, and other activities needed to support the temple. It is also run mainly by passionate volunteers who believe in service to the less fortunate as well as supporting the arts.
Volunteers are always on hand to assist interested visitors, and accept enquiries for bulk and consignment sales, as well as special orders for items not currently being sold at the boutique.
Lavanya is located at the Temple of Fine Arts at 116 Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur.
Source: The Expat magazine July 2015
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