Tamil Nadu

Dull Deepavali for Madurai weavers

Big blow: There are fears that the crisis will force weavers to switch to other jobs. G. Moorthy  

Deepavali is usually peak season for handloom weavers as more people go shopping for saris during this period. However, the festival season this year has been disappointing for the handloom weavers of Madurai district, mainly because of COVID-19.

The weavers say they have received very few ‘paavu’ (warps) to weave saris and have suffered a wage cut as sales have not picked up.

K.R. Kishore Babu, manager, Dhakshinamoorthy Weavers Cooperative Society, says many families of weavers are residing at Nilaiyur, Sakkimangalam, Thirunagar, Vandiyur, Krishnapuram Colony and Thiruvalluvar Colony. They receive orders from private agents and Co-optex for saris that are sold across the country.

K.M. Umadevi, a weaver from Nilaiyur, says the weavers used to receive four warps during Deepavali. “However, this year the private agents have given the weavers only one warp to weave saris.”

Mr. Babu says Co-optex has reduced the number of cotton saris procured from weavers. “Due to the financial distress caused by the pandemic, sari sales have been very poor and stocks have been piling up,” he adds.

Citing the poor sari sales, the private agents have reduced the wages for weaving a warp by 10%-15%, says N.T. Mani Baba, a weaver from Nilaiyur. “Usually, many members of a family work together, weaving a sari. With the wages cut, it has become extremely difficult to run our families,” he says.

J.D. Banumathi, a weaver from Vandiyur, says the wages are paid in instalments. “The private agents have not assured us of festival bonus this year. This will worsen our financial crisis as we earned a pittance during the lockdown period,” she says. “As we earn less, it is becoming difficult to pay the house rent and meet family expenses.”

This crisis will force many weavers to shift to other jobs, says A.S. Jayaprakash, a weaver from Vandiyur. He urges the government to fix minimum wages for weavers to avoid exploitation.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 8:57:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dull-deepavali-for-madurai-weavers/article32958864.ece

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