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Celebrating handloom

Handloom is in with a bang. Newer buyers are surrendering to the pleasure of hand-woven fabrics

EVER WATCHED a seller of handloom? Not for him the heavy-duty selling that others selling textiles do with finesse. He sits in his shop, supremely confident that whatever business has to come will come.

Go in, and he will spread out bedspread after bedspread, waiting to see which one catches your fancy. Once he sees that glint in your eye, his sales talk starts. Even there, he does not have to exert himself too much. "Mupathu parcent discount saar. Nalla thuni... " Before he is through with the sentence, cash would've changed hands.

"That," says a seller, "is the magic of handloom." "Once a person uses handloom, it is very difficult to be comfortable in any other weave."

Magic of handloom

Buyers agree. "This is cheap and best," they say. Another advantage is the extreme durability of handloom fabrics, be it furnishings, bedspreads or sarees. That, at times, works out to the disadvantage of sellers too. "People end up buying four or five sets and never return for the next 7-8 years. We know the reason and are happy, but it's bad for business," says an exhibitor at the handloom exhibition, currently on at the handloom exhibition grounds on Nanjappa Road.

Sales have been brisk in the fair, featuring about 20 stalls selling everything from towels to floor mats to sarees to the ubiquitous bed sheets.

Prices range from Rs. 117 for a single bed sheet to Rs. 500 for a good quality double spread in the stalls put up by weavers' societies from Chennimalai.

Elegant-looking single bedspreads (surplus from an export order) are a good buy.

Sarees, both cotton and polycot (Rs. 170-Rs. 550), are on offer at the Mahalakshmi and Pandian Weaver's Cooperative Societies from Paramakudi. With many companies in Coimbatore having declared a bonus, these shops are waiting for new customers. Another handloom fair is running simultaneously at Poompuhar in Town Hall - this one featuring Jaipur bedspreads and dresses for children and Madurai sungudi sarees.

An introduction this year is kaithari pattu, woven using silk yarn left over from weaving `Grade-1' silk sarees. The finish looks the same, with only the minor grains suggesting that it is different from the regular silk.

Available in a variety of hues, mostly light shades, the sarees cost less than Rs. 600. At Loom World in Saibaba Colony, a complex peopled by weavers' cooperatives from across the State, choose from silk and cotton weaves besides the usual bedspreads, pillow covers and furnishings.

A discount of up to 30 per cent in offered in most shops, with some even giving a whopping 50 per cent off on selected items. Walk up the three floors and you might find something interesting.

At the Government-run Handloom House in R. S. Puram, people are lapping up handlooms sourced from the major weaving centres in the country.

As for handloom lovers, they're thrilled at the choice they suddenly have.


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