The silhouette, the cut, the look…….did we ever go beyond this and really gave a thought on the FABRIC!!! What is the fabric, how sustainable it is and that one simple fabric could be actually running the kitchen of a household!
When you go to the weaving clusters of Banaras, Kota, Bhagalpur and many other weaving pockets across the country, you will realize that there are families who are preserving our age old weaving art, which is dying in recent times. A hand-crafted fabric takes a real long time for a weaver to create and the money s/he gets is perhaps the only income of the household.
The textile industry is the second largest industry in India after agriculture and employs approximately 13 million weavers in India. This is a big population of individuals who have chosen to follow a profession inherited from their forefathers which is in extreme danger of getting extinct because of the emergence of the power loom.
The Power loom industry has taken over, big brands competing with each other and luring us with big discounts which the product of the weaver sitting in the village will never be able to give us! Copy the age –old motifs and print them in power loom and voila! you have a replica ready – cheaper, faster, less sustainable! And we are getting lured to it because of the less cost. It is easy to create power loom products in volume and then sell in discounted prices but difficult for the handloom fabric to come to you at a cheaper price considering it is hand crafted and days go behind making them! As a buyer, we will have to understand this primary difference before we shop for a particular product.
It is essential for the millennial to know what handloom is and how different it is from power loom. Handloom is a type of loom operated manually without usage of electricity. A power loom weaves cloth with usage of power or electricity. Power loom works ten times faster than handloom. Recent statistics say that the power loom sector produces more than five times the volume of cloth produced by the handloom sector and every job created in the power loom sector displaces 14 handloom weavers!!
With the emergence and dominance of Power loom, Handloom is becoming a sunset industry which needs reviving and we need to come along together with a collective force to bring our handloom products on national and international level. It would be a pity if these weavers had to give up the age old art of handloom weaving and get into power loom just to keep the flames in their kitchen burning!
How can we revive handloom? Not by celebrating handloom day once a year that too in bits and pieces! We need to shift our thinking and make a lifestyle choice. Today, every garment we wear, every cloth accessory we use, might be from an international brand from a big mall which does not do any good for our country. Let us encourage ourselves to replace our wardrobe with beautiful handloom fabric and hand printed designs. That elegant handloom saree which you buy today will become a prized possession of your granddaughter’s collection and bind generations together!
Let’s make a choice! Let’s collectively come together to realize the dreams of the weavers around the country! Let’s encourage their art which has been handed over to them generation to generation! Let’s give our children and grandchildren the handmade fabric they can be proud of! Let not the art die a pitiable death!