Banjara women work hand-in-hand to preserve traditional embroidery style in Telangana
Kethavath Laxmi Bai is currently providing employment to about 200 women belonging to her Banjara community.
HYDERABAD: The specialised embroidery works found on traditional Lambadi skirts, dupattas and cholis are unique to the Lambada community, whose women have been preserving the intricate style for centuries. Though it might seem like only a matter of time before their traditional embroidery perishes, with those belonging to the previous generation getting old and contemporary style taking over the likes and interests of youngsters, an effort that was started way back in the 90s has proven helpful in preserving the rare works through diversification of products. It has also resulted in sustaining livelihoods of women dependent on this occupation.
Kethavath Laxmi Bai, a resident of Yellamma thanda in Manchal mandal of Rangareddy district, is one such traditional Banjara embroidery designer. She was empowered by Satyavathi, daughter of late actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao in 1990, who helped her diversify the products to cater to the changing trends, when Satyavathi was working as a higher official in the Crafts Council of India.
Training was given to Laxmi Bai and other women belonging to her community to apply their art to embroider various everyday use apparels. Marketing assistance was extended by the Crafts Council to assure livelihood to these women. They also went to Iran, United States and United Kingdom to attend exhibitions and propagate their handmade embroidery style.
After three decades of adapting to changing times, the Banjara women led by Laxmi are embroidering blouses, cushion covers, cell phone covers, dupattas and sarees in their traditional style, applying it to contemporary trends and needs. “The embroidery work is still in demand because it’s hand-stitched,” says Laxmi Bai.
JOBS FOR 200 WOMEN
Kethavath Laxmi Bai is currently providing employment to about 200 women belonging to her Banjara community. They all are engaged in this ‘Lambani Kuttu’. Laxmi Bai is making a profit of around Rs 6 lakh per annum. These women have been marketing the products on their own through Trifed, for
the last five years.