Life & Style

To a conscientious way of life

There are few fabrics more comfortable than handloom in Kerala during summer, says Ratheesh KP, pointing to his shirt — purple, hand-spun, hand-woven cotton. He has been the greatest advocate of his own handloom clothing venture, Gramins Lifestyle, which sources hand-spun and hand-woven cotton fabric from weaving societies and clusters across India. “You can only sell what you believe in,” he says.

The brand, accredited by the State Government’s Responsible Tourism Mission, aims to popularise the philosophy behind handloom. “When you buy handloom, you are supporting the country’s economy; helping a weaver; helping yourself by wearing something that will not harm your skin or health; and not leaving a carbon footprint,” says Ratheesh, who is organising a handloom fest.

“The idea is to create awareness on slow and sustainable fashion, the potential of which is yet to be fully explored.”

Each weaving technique is unique to the region it comes from, he explains. “For instance, if you take khadi, the one woven in Kerala is called manila, which is thicker when compared to the one woven in West Bengal, known as muslin... Bengal muslin is the finest cotton fabric one can find in India.” Not all hand-woven clothes are called khadi, he explains. A fabric can be called khadi only if all the processes involved in its making are done by hand. Handloom clothing can have any of its processes mechanised. He adds that handloom woven in Balaramapuram and Koothampully, two of Kerala’s traditional weaving villages, are distinct in character and style. They have subtle differences in warp and weft.

All things hand-woven
  • A four-day ‘Handloom Utsav’, will be organised by Gramins, at Ente Bhoomi, “the Green Lifestyle Mall”, opposite Valanjambalam, from February 28. The event will bring sustainable clothing to the fore and discuss its far-reaching impact on society via workshops and talks. Sessions planned include lectures on Ayurvedic clothing, sustainable fabrics and a workshop on hand-weaving. Cultural programmes will be organised in the evening. Weavers from seven States will also showcase fabric and garments in this exhibition-cum-sale.
  • Visitors to the Gramins store in Ente Bhoomi can watch how fabric is woven. Listed on Kerala’s RT Mission website under the “city tours” category, a two-hour package has been designed for tourists, where they can see handloom cloth being woven. A traditional Kerala meal at Ente Bhoomi is also included in the package.

A charkha-spinning workshop, led by a team from the Gandhi Grama Seva Kendram, North Paravoor, is a highlight. This will give the public a first-hand experience of charkha-spinning. “Charkha-spinning is a meditative process,” says Shiby PK, a director of Gramins and a social worker. “It is known to have benefits in eye-hand co-ordination and calming the mind. One of our long-term plans is to take charkha-spinning workshops to government schools. It could act as a tool to bring in attitudinal changes in students, as well as educate them about the country’s handloom traditions,” adds Shiby, who also associates with a number of educational projects.

The charkha at the venue, however, is a metallic new model with multiple spindles and a handle, which is turned manually.

Gramins associates with a number of handloom weaving societies in Kerala and other States. It also sources products from individuals and Self Help Groups. The event showcases muslin with jamdhani design from West Bengal, organic cotton fabric, Ponduru khadi saris from northern Andhra Pradesh (the weaving technique is a decades-old art form), patteda anchu saris, a traditional handloom weave from Karnataka, and kids’ wear in natural dyes. Handicrafts made of terracotta, screwpine, bamboo and coconut shell will also be on show.

Stating that Gramins plans to conduct such exhibitions on a regular basis to familiarise people with Indian handloom culture, Ratheesh says: “The larger aim is to nudge people to switch to a more conscientious way of life.”

The Handloom Festival will be on till March 2, from 10.30 am to 8 pm.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 4:54:59 PM |

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