Weavers plan to bring back shine of silk with online sales

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Every year the weavers' society does business to the tune of Rs 40 crore. Since this is the marriage season, the society has lost around Rs 10 crore revenue during this lockdown period.

The silk saris created by the weavers in the temple town of Thirubuvanam near Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district are famous for the rich zari work and fine counts of silk. But the lives of the people who make the fabric are not so smooth. And it is becoming worse now with livelihoods at stake after the Covid-induced lockdown, so much so that some of them are looking for odds jobs such as catering or cooking.

It was only in March 2019, that the unique weaving technique of the region that uses filature silk for warp and weft results in superior quality fabric, got the GI tag. Adorned with pure zari work, the ‘pallu’ of the sari is continuously woven on the loom and runs on from the body, unlike other saris where the body and ‘pallu’ are woven separately. But before the GI recognition could guarantee it the prized status, the economy has been hit.

N D Nagendran, district president of AITUC for weavers’ wing said, "Every year the society does business to the tune of Rs 40 crore. Since this is the marriage season, the society has lost around Rs 10 crore revenue during this lockdown period" he said.

The weaving tradition is tied to the Sourashtra community, who were known for their handloom saris and had settled down in Thirubuvanam during the period of Nayaks and Marathas. More than 1,500 families are engaged in making the handloom sari, for Rs3,000 to Rs6,000 per piece, under the Thirubuvanam Silk Handloom Weavers Co-operative society that distributes raw material to the weavers. Earlier raw material to make up to 50 saris per month used to be distributed, now they are hardly provided with the yarn to make two saris a month.

The road to recovery is a long one for them as fresh orders will take longer to come. "Even if the government lifts the lockdown, weavers will not get work until existing stocks run out," said V Narayanaswami, 67, a member of the society. Though the weavers are getting ration from the government, but their livelihood has been under threat since March. "We got Rs4,000 from the society. Other than that we have nothing to spend. We don’t know anything other than weaving. Few people are looking for other jobs with catering services," he said.

Since walk-in customers are limited, the society has decided to take their product to the doorstep of people. The society is in the process to begin online sales, weeding out middlemen. Members have decided to form a network to deliver the products.

As gold-coated silver zari is used for weaving, the skyrocketing of gold rates is further adding to production woes. So, the weavers have appealed to the state to offer some subsidies for raw material and also urged the Union government to revoke GST. "After the introduction of GST, our business started to suffer as multiple restrictions, from buying raw material to selling a sari, were put in place. We request the government and public to help revive the trade," said N S Haridass, another member.

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Indian Weaver Community : Weavers plan to bring back shine of silk with online sales
Weavers plan to bring back shine of silk with online sales
Every year the weavers' society does business to the tune of Rs 40 crore. Since this is the marriage season, the society has lost around Rs 10 crore revenue during this lockdown period.
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