KOCHI: A vibrant smile appeared on Pushpavalli K S’s face, a native of Karimpadam in North Paravur as,she began to explain the return to life of the handloom society, which was ravaged in the floods last August.“I’m really thankful to the handloom society for replacing the loom lost in the flood,” she says, joy writ on her face. The weavers of Chendamangalam reunited with the feeling of triumph and happiness as they overcame the most frightful nightmare, thanks to their collective spirits.
“We never thought that we could tackle the crisis this fast. The Government and Rotary club supported us really well to make the revival process much faster,” says 60-year-old Chandrodhini K S, who has been working in the handloom society for more than 15 years. Ever since the devastating flood hit the state, the weavers of the Chendamangalam village are on a mission to revamp the handloom sector back to its full-fledged form. The handloom society is currently working on its second phase by implementing new systems to fight competition from emerging players.
In the second phase, new marketing strategies are being executed by the handloom society following the increasing demand for cotton sarees post the flood. Ajith Kumar, secretary of Chendamangalam Handloom Cooperative Society, Karimpadam, informs that the introduction of Jacquard loom by the handloom society was a major step in the second phase.
Jacquard loom, a power loom, can simplify the process of manufacturing textiles with such complex patterns as brocade, damask and matelassé. Jacquard sarees contains a decorative design that’s woven into the fabric on a jacquard loom forming a slightly raised decorative area, he says. Typically made of cotton, these designs can range from basic florals to very large, intricate patterns. “There are currently six Jacquard looms and we are planning to increase the number to eight. The export of the specified GI (geographical indication) certified handloom products have been extended to foreign countries as well.
In the last month alone there was an estimated production of Rs 13 lakh,” says Ajith. The society also received support from other agencies. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale Foundation extended its support to the handloom society by exhibiting a wide range of handloom products which constitute a unique experience.
After the inceptive phase, 255 looms have been revived with the aid from both governmental and non-governmental firms. The Rotary club, Gopal Ji foundation and Bajaj Alliance were some of the private organisations that supported them.
“The handloom society has provided a compensation amount of Rs 10,000 to the weavers for fixing their handlooms with the support of the government. Even after the first phase of revival there were challenges in the handloom sector with the quality of raw materials. It was managed with the support of the yarn bank society by providing good quality raw materials to the weavers,” Ajith adds.
“The handloom sector in the district suffered a loss of around Rs 12 crore from August 15 to December 31. Around 273 families make their living from weaving. Out of the five handloom societies, three societies comprising 273 looms were completely destroyed by the flood.
The sudden catastrophic situation has left the weavers of the society marooned and unemployed falling deeper into debt,” said T S Baby, president of Paravoor Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society.Paravoor Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society is one of the largest weaving societies consisting of 140 weavers which bagged the state award for best performance for the past 12 years.