The Silk Mark expo features a wide range of designs and varieties from all over the country

With Diwali just a month away, shoppers must be planning their big buys already. If your shopping list includes a silk sari, visit the Silk Mark expo that has brought thousands of designs and colours and many pure silk varieties such as Mulberry, Muga, Eri and Tussar. Patola saris from Gujarat, Kantha and Jamdani silk saris from West Bengal, Uppada and Gadwal silk from Andhra Pradesh, Assam golden silk and Kancheepurams and Arni silks are some of the types that are available.

“Apart from bridal silk saris with heavy embroidery works, hand-woven silks and work wear saris with thin zari borders seem to be the hot-pick among women,” says Aniket, a stall manager. “These days, silk is worn even as everyday wear. It’s no more just a wedding fabric.” Light weight saris like the Uppara silk and matka silk are finding favour more than Kanchipuram and Banarasi that are restricted only for functions and parties.

P.N.Rao, a sari dealer from Visakhapatnam, says, “Often people complain of the high price range. But since all the saris are hand-woven, it involves a lot of labour cost. Sometimes, a single sari takes over 60 days to complete.” The Jamdani weaving technique and Banarasi saris with jacquard designs are some that are done intricately.

There is no dearth of innovation in silk. A Bangalore-based brand has brought in an extensive range of silk shirts, exclusively designed for parties. “Silk is not just for women, it has become a unisex option. Earlier, silk shirts were always seen as wedding wears or as ethnic clothes that are to be worn in pujas and festivals. But these days, these are hot combos with blazers and waistcoats. They are perfect party wears and more youngsters are seen sporting silk shirts,” says Anas, a salesman.

Another stall put up by a Tuticorin businessman features eye-catching handbags, purses, mobile pouches and clutches made of silk. Made of shiny raw silk fabrics and studded with stones and sequins, the handbags are pieced to flaunt around! “Silk will remain a symbol of opulence. The idea is to give that royal touch to accessories apart from clothes,” says Muthukumar. The expo has nearly 40 stalls and the price range from Rs.2,500 to Rs.45,000. “The concept is to create awareness of the varieties of pure silk and the need to buy them, among shoppers. Artificial silks are being sold in the name of silk in the market. And our tagging of pure silk has mitigated it,” says Ganapathy Raman, a Silk Mark official in the Ministry of Textiles. “The same kind of sheen and look can be achieved in polyester and people should be aware of the types and qualities of pure silk. This expo is also a way of educating the public about sericulture and silk weaving.”

A separate stall with live specimens of silk worms, their eggs, larvae and the cocoons has been put up at the expo. A sequential arrangement of specimens explains the process of sericulture and how silk fibre is obtained from the cocoons of silk worms.

The eggs laid on papers are collected and allowed to hatch in a tray. Leaves are provided for them to feed on and the growth of the larvae is shown in three stages. The larvae enter the pupa/cocoon stage and finally emerge as silk moths.

Silk fibre is extracted from the cocoons of the larvae. The raw fibre is later processed and made into yarns which are woven into fabrics.

The expo is on till September 25 at P.T.Rajan Hall, Race Course Road from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.