Those who modelled at the Co-optex show included seven physically challenged men and women
The men and women who walked the ramp at a fashion show in the city on Saturday did not have the studied grace of models.
But they wowed the audience with their smiles and excitement.
Over a dozen weavers and farmers participating in the show held by Co-optex, despite their inexperience, received plenty of applause.
The show began with a tableau of a village preparing for a temple festival. The farmers in cotton dhotis and shirts delicately paced the stage, trying to enact their everyday activities in the restricted space. It was easier for the weavers who carried out their work, unperturbed.
The tableau set the stage for the presence of transgenders and persons with disabilities. Seven physically challenged men and women walked the ramp, evoking images of actor Suriya from the film Perazhagan. An elderly farmer who pirouetted with his bamboo basket elicited whistles from the audience.
After her turn, R. Mohanapriya, who has polio, said, “I was worried but wanted to do my best. I prayed hard that I should do it well.” A resident of Madurai, she had travelled for the programme with her toddler son. “I enjoyed myself immensely though I was a little nervous,” she said.
Several of the other models echoed her sentiments.
For Thozhi, an organisation for transgendered women, the opportunity to participate in a government-organised fashion show was ultimate recognition of their status. “This is the first time the government has called us to perform and that means a lot to us,” said G. Shana, a member.
There was also a cultural programme by folk artistes who had also travelled from Madurai for the programme. Some of them were children, who had won recognition for their previous performances.
Handlooms and textile minister S. Sundararaj, who launched a new range of ‘kalachara pattu’ saris on the occasion, said Co-optex had wiped out all accumulated losses and earned a profit of Rs. 2.30 crore this year. There are proposals to introduce 2,500 designs this year.