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Friday Review » History & Culture

Updated: August 3, 2012 20:13 IST

Weaving a tradition

Sujay Mehdudia
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Colourful: Cultural heritage. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma
The Hindu Colourful: Cultural heritage. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

The government is developing weaving clusters in Varanasi and organising festivals to boost the handloom industry

Known since olden times for its delicate weaves, exquisite patterns and brilliant and bold colours, Banarasi saris have always been an inevitable yet proud feature in every woman’s wardrobe. However, the advancement of textile machineries and advent of various other cloth materials have put the Varanasi handloom industry to disadvantage and pushed the weavers towards financial distress.

Taking notice of the situation, the government has given the nod to 12 small, one large and one mega handloom clusters in Varanasi for the holistic and sustainable development of the weavers. Overall, 610 small clusters, 20 large clusters and six mega clusters in the handloom sector are under various stages of development across the country. To showcase, popularise and promote the cultural heritage of this centuries-old city, the government will organise the ‘Banaras Weaves’ festival at Delhi’s Dilli Haat from October 16 to 30.

The event, which will house 135 stalls of various individuals and societies from Varanasi, will help the weavers display their artistic splendour. The stalls will be set up for free of cost and the festival is expected to boost the sale of the weavers. The stalls will showcase value-added products of the Varanasi clusters as well.

Being one of the oldest weaving centres in India, brocade and silk from the city have been registered under Geographical Indications Act. Varanasi’s handloom sector currently provides employment, particularly in rural areas, directly and indirectly to over 43 lakh weavers belonging to the socially and economically disadvantaged sections.

The government’s objectives behind developing weaving clusters is to improve the skill of the handloom weavers, upgrade machinery, equipment and manufacturing processes and develop designs and quality in consonance with current market needs. The handloom sector today is capable of providing niche and designer products to create a market among the youth and high-end consumers.

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