Moonj is a wild grass that grows abundantly near riverbanks in and around large areas of Prayagraj. Moonj is the outer layer of grass that is peeled and knotted. This art has been practiced for 60 to 70 years
The first step is to tie the green layers of Moonj, locally known as Balla. Then let it dry in the sun. It is soaked in water for a few hours so that it becomes softer for weaving. Some Ballas are boiled in water mixed with desired colors to create colorful patterns when woven.
"The art of making Moonj baskets has a history dating back almost a century from the time of Prayagraj (Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh). The craft takes its name from Moonj grass and Kaasa grass - wild grasses that grow abundantly near the banks of the Yamuna and Ganga rivers as well as in and around large areas of Prayagraj. These wild herbs are hand-harvested and then skillfully crafted to knit into exquisite baskets. While Kaasa grass is available and grows year round, Moonj grass only grows for two months and is usually harvested during the winter months."