G20 2023: Inside The Exclusive Gift Bag: Kashmiri Saffron & More

The G20 Summit 2023 recently concluded in New Delhi and was visited by many prominent world leaders and their spouses. At the end of their visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented each guest with a gift hamper that showcased the cultural and culinary wealth of India. Here’s a peek at everything they were given:

1. Saffron from Kashmir:

Kashmiri saffron, often referred to as the "Red Gold," is a prized addition to this collection. Saffron, known as "Kesar" in Hindi and "Zafran" in Persian, holds a prestigious status as one of the world's most exquisite and costly spices, cherished for its culinary and medicinal attributes. Each saffron thread contains a portion of the stigma from the Saffron Crocus, and the meticulous process of saffron cultivation involves the delicate hand-harvesting of thousands of flowers, with each flower yielding three crimson stigmas, to produce just one ounce of this spice. 

2. Pekoe Darjeeling and Nilgiri Tea:

India is synonymous with tea so of course, two esteemed varieties made it to the hamper. Pekoe Darjeeling and Nilgiri Tea are two gems in India's rich tea heritage. Darjeeling tea, renowned as the world's finest, is meticulously handpicked from tender shoots grown on misty hills in West Bengal, at elevations ranging from 3000 to 5000 feet and is known for its dark hue and lack of bitterness. Nilgiri Tea hails from the stunning mountain range in South India, thriving amidst lush terrain at elevations of 1000 to 3000 feet and is preferred for its bright notes and clean flavour.

3. Araku Coffee:

For the caffeine lovers, there was something special to try in the form of Araku coffee, the world's first terroir-mapped coffee, cultivated on organic plantations in the picturesque Araku Valley of Andhra Pradesh. The coffee plants are tended to by the valley's dedicated farmers, who practise sustainable, chemical-free cultivation in harmony with nature. Hand-cultivated in small farms, Araku Coffee ensures organic purity, delivering traditional coffee powder or pure Arabica beans directly from the farmer.

4. Sundarbans Multiflora Mangrove Honey:

The diversity and majesty of the Sundarbans were seen in a sample of Sundarbans Multiflora Mangrove Honey. This honey mirrors the area's rich biodiversity, boasting a distinctive and rich flavour profile. Situated on the delta formed by the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal, the Sundarbans are home to wild honeybee colonies. Before the advent of beehive farming, locals practised the ancient tradition of hunting honeycombs in the wilderness, a tradition that persists among the Sundarbans' people.

5. Kashmiri Pashmina

These internationally renowned stoles are woven from the combed undercoat of the Changthangi goat which is only found at a height of 14,000 feet above sea level. The soft and delicate garment is hand woven, spun and embroidered by skilled artisans to create a warm but lightweight shawl or stole.

6. Zighrana Ittar

Ittar is a type of ancient perfume derived from botanical sources and this version represents the wonders of Kannauj, a city in Uttar Pradesh. Blossoms like roses and jasmine and other rare blooms are harvested at dawn when their scent is most potent. They’re then processed through hydro-distillation to extract only the purest, most ethereal scent to create Zighrana Ittar

7. Khadi Scarf

Khadi is a natural textile that was created in India. It played a pivotal role as a symbol of Indian independence and the name itself was coined by Mahatma Gandhi. Rural artisans still hand spin and weave these intricate fabrics which have become a marker of India’s sustainable textile industry. 

8. Coin Box

To mark India's G20 Presidency, Prime Minister Modi unveiled special G20 postage stamps and coins on July 26, 2023, during the inauguration of Bharat Mandapam at Pragati Maidan. The designs are inspired by India's G20 Logo and the theme 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' (One Earth. One Family. One Future). The two 20-denomination postage stamps commemorate India's G20 Presidency from December 1, 2022, to November 30, 2023, symbolising unity and the shared determination of G20 members for inclusive, decisive, and action-oriented outcomes under India's leadership. 

9. Sheesham Wood Sandook with Brass Patti

All these treasures were presented in a Sheesham Wood Sandook with Brass Patti, where 'Sandook' translates to a treasure chest in Hindi. Traditionally, it's a robust box made from solid Indian Rosewood, cherished for its strength and unique grain patterns, adorned with intricately etched brass patti. This handcrafted masterpiece was a treasure in itself, combining utility and beauty.