Andhra Pradesh

Dharmavaram sari makers hang by a thread

In dire straits: Orders have dried up for weavers at Dharmavaram of Anantapur district.

In dire straits: Orders have dried up for weavers at Dharmavaram of Anantapur district.  

Lockdown coinciding with marriage season shatters their hopes

Dharmavaram silk saris are famous the world over for their quality and probably the most popular only after Kanchipuram Pattu. This is the peak season for the business, but the town wears a deserted look with the lockdown being enforced to check the spread of COVID-19.

The first phase of auspicious days for Hindu marriages ended on March 17. The next phase that will last till May-end and after that there will be a gap of two months. Weavers in all towns and villages around Dharmavaram should have been plush with orders and every weavers’ colony should have been reverberating with the sound of handlooms, but the lockdown has reversed the situation.

Mounting debts

At Syndicate Nagar in A. Narayanapuram panchayat near Anantapur, there are 400 houses with handlooms, but hardly a dozen of them are functional.

A majority of weavers work based on orders from wholesalers and retailers. The raw material is supplied by them.

“We hardly have any orders. We have woven just two saris in the last nine days, which might fetch us barely ₹1,200,” lament Thaticherla Bano Bi and Mohammed Rafi. The couple had to borrow ₹3 lakh for their daughter Karishma’s ENT operation even after the government extended an assistance of ₹8 lakh. Now, they are worried that interest would mount if work does not come in the next fortnight.

No supply of silk

Kalimishetty Shanataram, who has knowledge of the business, says the impact of the lockdown will be felt even after six months. Silk cocoon market has been closed, supply of raw silk thread coming mostly from Mysuru and Bengaluru has totally stopped, so as chemical from Adoni in Kurnool district for the thread to be dyed in Dharmavaram. Only a couple of them such as Posa Chalapathi, who buys material on his own, has work for some days and makes higher margins.

Marriages have got postponed, but before new dates are fixed and purchases begin, it could be not before August and supply of zari has to begin from Surat once again. Only then these handloom weavers get to make saris with heavy borders and zari. They get ₹3,000 to ₹4,000 per sari that takes a couple to weave six to seven days.

Meanwhile, cocoons have started arriving in the market at Hindupur, Kadiri and Dharmavaram in small quantities.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:21:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/dharmavaram-sari-makers-hang-by-a-thread/article31274224.ece

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