Threads of tradition, revival and humility bring handloom biz back
He quit his job in 2016 and started weaving handlooms under the brand name Nurpu in the same year on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi.
CHENNAI : After 11 years of a steady well-paying job in the IT sector, Sivagurunathan C quit his life in Bengaluru and moved to Erode with the dream of reviving his family’s weaving business. The MBA graduate was inspired to take this decision after reading the book by Cuckoo Forest School on virtual water titled Man Puzhu in 2013. It widened his knowledge about nature and tradition. After discussing Mahatma Gandhi and his principles with his friend Siva Raj, founder of Cuckoo Forest School, over emails, he visited the school almost every weekend.
“The school aimed at striking a balance between the needs of peoples and needs of nature. After this, I started thinking of ways through which I can live a sustainable life,” says Sivagurunathan. He decided to work towards reviving the weaving business. His family in Erode has been in the business for decades. Remembering his childhood days, he says, “A shuttle is a tool that carries the thread of the weft yarn while weaving with a loom. It is sharp on both sides. Though I was not allowed to touch it, I developed a lot of interest in how a shuttle works,” he shares.
For more than one and a half years, he travelled to learn about the techniques of weaving and colouring. He went to Melkote in Mysuru, where three generations of weavers reside. In the process, he met Surendra Koulagi, a freedom fighter, Gandhian, and a promoter of Khadi movement who worked with Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. “When I discussed my mission with him, he said that weaving is a lifestyle which progresses slowly. It requires patience and passion. The conversation motivated me further,” says Sivagurunathan.
He quit his job in 2016 and started weaving handlooms under the brand name Nurpu in the same year on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi. “As part of the research, I visited ‘1010 weavers’ colony’ at Chennimalai, a handloom town in Erode. There were less than 100 houses that were pursuing weaving. Many families left the art and migrated to urban areas for employment. I hired six families from Chennimalai to weave for Nurpu,” he says.
His father who has 40 years of experience in weaving, and his brother, who is pursuing textile technology help him in the business. Sivagurunathan’s aim is to manufacture good quality products. He doesn’t purchase any synthetic thread, and adds unbleached or natural colours to pure cotton threads. “I learned weaving at Arachalur, Erode, and I train my weavers too. The end products are sold through retail stores in Chennai, Coimbatore and also online. We make stoles, towels, and handkerchiefs, shirts, pants, boxers, kurtas and cloth fabrics,” he says.
Sivagurunathan’s mission is to pass the tradition to the next generation and teach them the art of weaving. He wants to create awareness about the dying art and conduct workshops for the younger generation. Sharing his future plans, he says that he is working towards setting up a centre Nurpu Handloom Weaving Society at Chennimalai later this month.
Sivagurunathan’s mission is to pass the tradition to the next generation and teach them the art of weaving. He wants to set up a centre — Nurpu Handloom Weaving Centre