KERALA

Experiments on Ayurvastra begins



Staff Reporter

Ayurvastra is a new initiative launched by the Directorate of Handloom, Department of Industries and Commerce and the Department of Dravyaguna Vijnan, Government Ayurveda College, aimed at creating a niche for the eco-friendly handloom fabric.

Thiruvananthapuram: Experiments to test the clinical effectiveness of Ayurvastra - textiles that have been dyed in medicinal herb concoctions - was inaugurated by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy at the Government Ayurveda College here on Tuesday.

Ayurvastra is a new initiative launched by the Directorate of Handloom, Department of Industries and Commerce and the Department of Dravyaguna Vijnan, Government Ayurveda College, aimed at creating a new niche for the eco-friendly handloom fabric.

The initiative to create a specialised product such as Ayurvastra was borne out of the experiments conducted by the Balaramapuram-based Handloom Weavers' Development Society. Handloom fabrics dyed in herbal medicines could actually be used as part of Ayurvedic treatment.

For the handloom industry, which faces doom because of the compulsions of liberalised market policies, this could be the opportunity to regain its glory. Apart from the medicinal benefits that the fabrics boast of, its USP as an eco-friendly product could help the handloom industry cast an eye on the global market too, it was hoped.

Globally, many countries have been enforcing a ban on textiles that have been coloured using chemical dyes. This had been a body blow to the handloom industry. At the same time, textiles dyed using natural vegetable dyes, especially medicinal plants, have been commanding a huge market. The Handloom Weavers' Development Society had initiated certain experiments in this direction earlier. K. Ravi, former adviser, Common Wealth Secretariat, London, submitted this novel idea of Ayurvedic clothes as a project before the Central Planning Commission.

It was thus included in the Additional Central Assistance Scheme and entrusted for implementation to the State Department of Handlooms and Textiles, with assistance for research and development. It was as part of this project that the Dravyaguna department of Ayurveda College started work on creating Ayurvastra.

On a similar project earlier ayurvedic dyes were developed to add colour to coir products. The society had a role in this venture also. A Chirayinkeezh-based coir matting society had manufactured coir mats using the medicated coir fibres developed by the society. The Dravyaguna department used these coir mats to create an `Ayurvedic environment.' It was found through various trials that such an environment can help those suffering from skin diseases, arthritis and blood pressure.

Ayurvastra technology, backed by marketing, could save traditional industries such as coir and handloom, it is hoped.

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