As crisis looms, weavers pin hopes on their legacy


Our journey tracing the history of traditional saris takes us to Kodiyala, the historically famed village in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district, where non-stop sounds of the looms beckon us.

Different stages of sari-making at Kodiyala village of Srirangapatna taluk in Mandya district.

In this village, every lane has weavers. They spin Kodiyala saris, both cotton and silk. The trust of the customers and word-of-mouth promotion are the only tools of marketing for these weavers.
Known for their quality and rich colours, Kodiyala saris are in great demand in local as well as the global market, throughout the year. 

It is remarkable to note that the two-month lockdown owing to Covid-19 pandemic has had little impact on the sale of Kodiyala saris. In the initial days, a majority of weavers downed the shutters and the police too ensured that the lockdown was strictly imposed.

However, simple marriages were held during the second half of the lockdown and the customers continued to visit the village. There was a good demand for silk saris and business was carried out on a low-profile. After the lockdown was lifted, sales returned to normal. The weavers are particular that the customers wear masks and observe social distancing measures.

Royal patronage

The popular Kodiyala saris have heritage value too. On an invitation extended by Tipu Sultan, the then king of Mysore, a few weavers from Hyderabad made Ganjam, near Srirangapatna, their home. They soon enjoyed royal patronage, as they spun fabrics for the rulers of Mysore. Later on, historians say, they branched out and settled in Kodiyala, Kikkeri, Melukote and Hosaholalu villages.

At Kodiyala, at least 250 Padmashali families are continuing their family legacy. Unable to cope with change, many families ended their businesses. Among those who remained, a few continued with handloom while many shifted to power loom.

With 24-hour power supply to their village through express line, the looms are never put to rest. The cotton varieties are preferably spun in power looms, while the silk are generally spun in hand looms. In spite of embracing modernity, the weavers have not compromised with quality.

Eco-friendly weaves

Those wearing handloom Kodiyala saris can be assured that they are eco-friendly too. According to the weavers, the soft yarns, processed naturally without any chemical treatment, are hassle-free as they require neither pressing nor dry cleaning. The dyes don't fade and the weaves last for a lifetime, they assert.

Govindaraju, also known as ‘Kodiyala Gandhi’, has been in the profession for the past 30 years. One of the senior weavers in the village, he uses only natural dyes — colours from carrots, beetroots, moringa leaves, jamuns, mangoes, oranges are extracted, processed and used for dyeing the threads.

“A unit in Bengaluru helps me with colour extraction,” says Govindaraju. He has a strong customer base. A majority of them are willing to pay more for this quality product. A documentary has also been made about his work.

Branding is crucial

Computerised power looms aid weavers in creating trendy designs, which are stored in the memory cards and are accessed by the control panels installed in the looms. The saris are customised based on the buyer's colour, yarn and design preferences.

While Kodiyala saris are sold in retail and wholesale markets, there is no maximum retail price fixed on each piece. The weavers decide the price based on the yarn used and the expenses incurred while weaving. Showrooms across the country keep a margin and sell Kodiyala saris in their brand, says Narayanappa who runs a sari shop.

“I gift Kodiyala saris to all my guests who visit Mandya,” says Shailaja, assistant commissioner, Pandavapura.

Educator Meera Shivalingaiah, who has been wearing Kodiyala saris for the past two decades, stressed the need to brand Kodiyala saris so that the weavers get the maximum benefit. 

Source: Deccan Herald



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Indian Weaver Community : As crisis looms, weavers pin hopes on their legacy
As crisis looms, weavers pin hopes on their legacy
Our journey tracing the history of traditional saris takes us to Kodiyala, the historically famed village in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district, where non-stop sounds of the looms beckon us.
Indian Weaver Community
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