When Natalie from Dalit contacted me and asked if I was interested in receiving a few samples of their gorgeous Dalit products, including candles, spices and soaps, I was a little hesitant at first. I get offered a lot of candles via my Instagram page and my home was starting to smell like a branch of Lush. But when Natalie explained her story and the story behind Dalit, I was immediately interested. I loved the selection of authentic Indian artisan candles and pots, their beautifully crafted scent burners, exquisitely wrapped soaps and spice sets which can be complimented with recipe books containing a number of vegetarian and meat dishes, as well as traditional Indian desserts.
I understood that the products were handcrafted by the Dalit people of India, which in the traditional Hindu social structure have had the lowest social status for centuries. The term Dalit actually means “broken/scattered” and they are “untouchable” (but not in a good way) in India. Natalie had mentioned that they have 5 projects running and a boys home in Mumbai where most of the children had been rescued from train lines.
I received the most amazing parcel from Natalie and Dalit a few days later. Not much brings me to tears and this was one of them. Inside the parcel, was the most wonderful selection of products and the fragrance was beautifully aromatic. The products have been in my living room ever since and although I haven’t lit any of the candles yet (most of the products have been entered into a giveaway competition on my Instagram page - @melaniejadedesigns) I didn’t need to. The scent hit you as soon as you walked in the room! Natalie had also included booklets on the plight of the Dalit people and some traditional Indian recipe books.
The candles are in clay pots which resemble the pots that Indian woman are seen carrying when returning from the well. When Simon Hawthorne, the founder of Dalit, went to India, he noticed that there were a lot of smashed clay pots in and around the slum areas of Mumbai. These turned out to be pots in which the Dalit people drank water from and because of their “untouchable” status, were then forced to smash on the ground so no other caste could drink from it. The Pavani candles are similar to the clay drinking cups that are still used in rural India in chai shops and coffee houses.
The Preshansa candle comes in a beautiful paper-mache box which has been hand painted by artisans of Kashmir. The delicate candle pot has a varnished rim and is available in 2 sizes with either a lavender or vanilla and blended beeswax scent.
The Candle and Oil Burners are also hand crafted and come with a D’light (smaller candle) which can be placed inside and burn up to 6 hours! The beautiful design of these burners make them a great table decoration in their own right and when lit at night, they give beautiful light reflections around the room.
Dalit also make exquisitely smelling soaps with scents ranging from rose, blossom and sandal and are free from animal testing. These soaps are hand made in Kerela by women and Dalit are committed to employing mainly disadvantaged women. They are made from 100% natural ingredients and are coconut oil based. Dalit also have a stylish male grooming range including shaving soap and brush.
And if you love a good Indian curry (don’t we all?), Dalit also source Vegan friendly spices and chillies direct from India. You can buy specially prepared spice boxes or choose an assortment of spices which include chilli, coriander, turmeric, cumin, cardamom and black pepper. They also sell authentic recipe books which include local Indian dishes and a few “family secret recipes” direct from the Indian communities that Dalit work with. In fact, I will be trying out the Chicken Curry recipe on my family tonight!
But the most important thing for me, other than the beautiful products that Dalit produce, is the work they do alongside the charity - Life Association. All the products are made in India and produced by the Dalit people, who often live in poverty and destitution. Every purchase of a product from Dalit supports the work of helping street children, by creating schools and orphanages where kids can thrive. The clay pot and cup which the candles sit in, are very symbolic in raising awareness to make a difference for the Dalit people of India. Please head to http://www.lifeassociation.org.uk/ to find out more.