Couple who built their lives out of cocoons

Kozhikode: A couple from Salem in Tamil Nadu have built their lives out of cocoons that are thrown away after silk is removed from them. They have also managed to help several others. The colourful handicrafts made of mulberry silk cocoon by A. Chidambaram and C. Kamala are a major attraction at the International Crafts Fair held at Sargaalaya Arts and Crafts Village at Iringal here.

Chidambaram was working as a marketing manager with the National Textile Corporation in Bangalore when he met with an accident 20 years ago and became handicapped. Having lost his job and setting up several small enterprises, which were unsuccessful, he had almost given up on life when his wife emerged as a ‘saviour’.

Kamala had come across cocoons being used for making flowers at an exhibition in Mysuru and decided to give it a try. Her brother and a friend ran a silk unit in Salem, which ensured ready supply of cocoons. She learned the nuances of making attractive bouquets and garlands from discarded cocoons all alone. With several years of marketing experience in his kitty, selling the products was a cakewalk for Chidambaram.

“I pulled a few strings, contacted shop owners I knew, and in a few years, our cocoon flowers were seen everywhere. The cocoon bouquets we made even replaced flower bouquets at weddings as they were long lasting,” he said. “Cocoons are coloured using the same dyes used to colour silk thread. So, they never fade,” Kamala explained.

The couple have come a long way since their days of hard struggle. They soon became experts in the craft. They even set up an enterprise to help physically challenged women by forming self-help groups and offering training in vocational skills. “We have been of service to more than 85,000 women so far,” Chidambaram said. The couple have been guest faculty members at various institutions including the Central Sericulture Research Training Institute in Mysuru. They bagged the Tamil Nadu government’s Best Private Employer Award in 1999.

They are attending the crafts fair at Sargaalaya for the second consecutive year.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 6:35:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/Couple-who-built-their-lives-out-of-cocoons/article16938995.ece

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