The annual Gongadi exhibition is back at Daram with a variety of the blankets on sale

It is ubiquitous to the shepherd community in the Telangana region and is said to be a multi-purpose garment. Coarse to touch, the Gongadi – an 8x4 blanket woven from wool obtained from the Deccani breed of sheep – promises to keep away the winter chill, the harsh summer sun and the cold rain as well. Little wonder then that the Gongadi has been so popular with people for so many years. But when the garment began losing out to the softer varieties of woollen garments in recent years the Kuruma community (they traditionally rear the Deccani sheep and weave the blankets) along with Anthra, an NGO that works towards its revival, decided to give the city a gentle reminder of this locally made, completely organic product.

The Gongadi exhibition, that is on at Daram in Begumpet, has on offer a variety of blankets in two sizes – 8x4 and 2x4. Mainly in black, the Gongadi is also available in cream. “The Deccani sheep or nalla gorre is predominantly black in colour. We avoid using any dyes in the products so the colour is completely natural. There are a few cream and light brown varieties as well, but they are rare,” says Yadagiri Gunda, leader of the Deccani Gorrela Mekala Pempakadharla Sangham.

The Sangham members travel the country with their exhibitions, usually five or six times a year, showcasing their products and also regaling their customers with the Oggu Katha. The Katha, a dance cum song performance narrates the story of the Gongadi and how they are working towards reviving the dying art. On an average the Sangham manages to sell around 20 blankets at each exhibition, with the number going up to 40 in cities like Delhi.

Spun and woven on mobile looms these blankets are priced between Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 7,000 depending on their size and colour. “The off white varieties are more expensive since the sheep is so rare. The good thing about all Gongadi blankets is that although it is so coarse initially, with use it becomes softer and the colour too darkens,” explains Yadagiri.

The exhibition on till December 22 at Daram. The Oggu Katha will be staged from 4p.m. onwards on December 21.