Balaramapuram handlooms hanging by a thread

Over the years, as the demand for these products slowly dwindles and power looms threaten to replace them, the fears have reemerged stronger.
A weaver working with corn yarn at Balaramapuram. (Photo | Express)
A weaver working with corn yarn at Balaramapuram. (Photo | Express)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Despite the state boasting a rich handloom heritage, the industry is in crisis. Now, this may not be evident in August, when we observe National Handloom Day. Now, Balaramapuram, one of the industry’s epicentres, is thronged by people, all eager to get their purchases done ahead of Onam. However, past this veil of activity, it’s a grim scene.

“Onam is the only time we earn enough. During this period, there’s a demand for handloom products like mundu and sarees,” says Bindukumar, a traditional weaver. According to the 48-year-old, there are over 20,000 engaged in the weaving and handloom industry in Thiruvananthapuram alone. “A majority of them are women,” he adds.

In the lead-up to Onam, the concerns are kept at bay for now as they engage in a slew of tasks, including wrapping the looms, winding bobbins from corn yarns, and drying them to weave beautiful fabrics.

Over the years, as the demand for these products slowly dwindles and power looms threaten to replace them, the fears have reemerged stronger.

“Recently, the consignment for handloom school uniforms has given up a ray of hope. A total of 3,000 weavers are employed to produce this consignment,” Bindukumar says. She also laments how there’s not much interest among the new generation to take up the skills and continue our treasured handloom heritage.

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