Hyderabad: Remember the time during summer vacation, when after a short post-lunch siesta, you would play pachisi, ashta chamma or puli meka with your entire family? Or getting a head massage from your grandmother with hibiscus and amla infused oil, which no hair products in the market can still compete with?
While it might seem like memories from the bygone era, Kalyani Gongi, a Hyderabad-based entrepreneur is trying to revive the lost glory of traditional games and organic plant based products. Inspired by her father, Kalyani’s brand, Ancient Living is all about eco-conscious products, for enhanced health and overall well-being.
“I grew up on a farm very close to nature. We grew several medicinal plants on our land. And of course, playing board games was a big part of growing up,” Kalyani shares, adding, “I know many people have lived similar lives. But with time many have left the board games behind. I wanted to bring these games back because they not only provide a good family time, but also stimulate mind.”
One can find various native board games including Pachisi, Ashta Chamma, Daadi, Dash Gutti, Puli Meka, Kattam Vilayattu, Moksha Pata (Snakes and Ladder), Chakravyuham and Vamana Guntalu, on the Ancient Living’s website. But what makes these games different from any other present in the market is the material used to produce them. “I am extremely eco-conscious. So, initially we only used cotton to make these products. However, now we also have these games available on raw silk cloth and wooden boards, which are eco-friendly.”
Knowing that several art forms are lacking patronage, Ancient Living is reaching out to artists from across the country to paint their board games and gift boxes. “Our team travels to places in search of these traditional arts. We have pachisi with Madhubani art (from Bihar) painted on it, the vamana guntalu boxes are painted by the Cheriyal (from Telangana) artists.”
Ancient Living also has a series of well-curated organic plant based products and essential oils for its patrons. “We get the organic herbs, we sun dry them in our factory, pound them and make the products with hundred per cent authentic ingredients. To ensure the quality of all the products, we have also set up an in-house microbiology lab and R&D team,” she says.
Interestingly, while several businesses were hit hard during the pandemic, Ancient Living thrived. “During the pandemic, many people were at home and to bond with the family ordered our board games. A lot of them turned to our products, knowing that they are not only safe, but very efficient,” Kalyani shares.
A factory like no other
Located in the industrial area of Jeedimetla and surrounded by several bland buildings, Ancient Living’s factory is a visual delight. With colourful Cherial painting, which tells the story of the brand, gracing its entrance wall, the factory greets the visitors with several flowering plants.
Unlike most factories that you might have visited, this place smells of exotic herbs and fragrant oils. Even the farthest corners of the factory are cleaned and sanitised daily to ensure the safety of all working on the premises. Interestingly, this factory is mostly manned by women, starting from cutting the clothes for the board games, to hand printing the products and then sewing them, to ensuring the herbs are perfectly dried, making organic face packs, handmade soaps, blending hair oils, massage oils, and packing them to be delivered to the customers.
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