There’s nothing to beat the feel of the home-spun fabric that Mahatma Gandhi so loved. METROPLUS speaks to women who say wearing and working with Khadi gives them an emotional high
Khadi saris handspun on the traditional charkha have a suppleness that is ideal both for summer and winter wear. The advantage of a mechanised amber charkha spun yarn is that we can go finer than the finest traditional charkha spun and even mill-spun yarn. Previously, there were many varieties of khadi saris with jamdani inlayed patterning or extra warp and weft patterning. Today, there are very few weavers skilled enough to do this. Khadi saris drape very well and are not hard to maintain if they are hand washed and used without starch. Today, khadi saris are being woven in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Rta Kapur Chishti is involved with R & D of handspun/handloom textiles. She is co-author & editor of Saris of India
Khadi is cool
Khadi is a symbol of Indian textile heritage. It is handspun and handwoven and the fact that it is a cottage industry always makes my heart happy. Khadi with its slubs, brings out the beauty of the human hand. It is a great industry which needs to be revived in a big way.
I always recommend khadi to my clients. One of my favourite Khadi projects is one that I worked on over 10 years ago, where I used a mixture of Khadi and tencel. It softens and gives the fabric more drape. I think Khadi should be opened up to everybody though there should be innovations. Khadi can’t be what it was 60 years ago. And these innovations on design quality and the way weaving is done, should be shared with weavers.
The crucial thing is that people should be told about Khadi; it should be cherished and promoted as part of our legacy. They should endeavour to make it a part of their daily wardrobe. If people need to wear it, there should be design innovations and contemporarisation. Designers need to work with weavers. Khadi has to go through a revolution in terms of bringing changes in design and quality.
This effort has to be taken for the survival of the fabric. At the same time, there needs to be a call to wear Khadi, like in the freedom movement.
Designer Deepika Govind of Khadi Kool, Bangalore, has worked with the fabric since 1999.
This is said to be the finest variety of Khadi. The fabric is fully hand-made in Ponduru village of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. It is said that Mahatma Gandhi was taken in by its fineness. That’s because of the special cotton used and the way it which it is combed and purified using the jaw bones of the local valuga fish. Ponduru khadi is translucent, and takes on a shine with every wash. It is expensive, but if you invest in it, you will support a fast-diminishing weaving tradition.
I have worn Khadi for 40 years. Not exclusively, of course, but always with enormous pride and pleasure.
Khadi, contrary to popular belief, is a high maintenance fabric. It is the ultimate luxury. But if one can afford it, why not?
Shobhaa De, writer
Threads of emotion
My uncles were actively involved in the freedom movement, some of them worked alongside Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmathi ashram. One of them, Abid Hasan Safrani, went on to join Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, and eventually played a role in the battle of Imphal where the INA forces hoisted the Indian national flag much before India became independent.
I grew up watching my uncles spinning the charkha. We wore khadi and knew about the freedom movement in our growing years.
(this is an excerpt from an earlier MetroPlus interview by Ismat Mehdi, managing trustee, Sarvodaya International Trust AP Chapter)