P. Anima

NEW DELHI: The weavers of West Bengal have kept their date with Delhi's handloom lovers and are here again with an exquisite "Spring Festival'' collection of Bengal saris.


The exposition, organised by the Directorate of Handlooms and Textiles under the Cottage and Small Scale Industries Department of the West Bengal Government along with the Development Commissioner of Handlooms, Union Textiles Ministry, is open up to April 6.

On display at the 22 stalls are intricate handiworks of weavers from co-operative societies all around Bengal. Once Bengal's claim to fame, the handloom industry is putting up a spirited fight to regain its old glory.

"With introduction of new designs and technology, things are beginning to look up for the sector," says M. K. Haldar, Administrative Officer of the Directorate of Handlooms and Textiles. "It would be right to say we are leaving behind the bad times and entering a good phase."

Signs of it are visible at the stalls, where keen customers can be seen poring over the fine works in saris, salwar-kameez material, shawls and stoles.

"We made a good collection of about 90 lakh last year. The sales so far this year have been worth around Rs. 22 lakh," says Haldar.

The weavers have improvised in terms of design as well as technique. "Traditionally these weavers were making just saris, now they have diversified into other dress material like tops," says Ajit Kumar Biswas, whose co-operative from Burdwan district is showcasing its saris.

"There is also a demand for these handloom products abroad. Some of them have got orders from Japan for suit material, while there is a market in Europe for scarf and stoles," adds Biswas.

Bright and colourful cotton saris with trademark motifs of the district they come from form the bulk on display. But there is also a good range of silk and tussar saris, most of them with the traditional "kanta" work done on them.

"The traditional `kanta' work is an exhibition of the skill of the Bengali women," says Shipra, an employee of the Resident Commissioner's Office.

"During leisure they drew out strands of cotton from saris and did `kanta' work on them to make bed-sheets and other material," says Shipra.

On show are pure silk saris from Mushirabad and the "jamdanis" and "dhaniakhalis" from across the State.

Lest one tends to think the exposition is an all-woman affair, there are "kurtas" and other material for men too.