Woes of Chinnalapatti weavers

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The COVID-19 pandemic has doomed the future of weavers in Chinnalapatti that many are finding the very survival a big challenge.

The COVID-19 pandemic has doomed the future of weavers in Chinnalapatti that many are finding the very survival a big challenge.

On the one hand, there is no work. On the other, the finished goods are lying in their dwellings for at least 100 days. The weavers have no money, but the merchants who had supplied raw materials such as yarn among others were pestering them for payment.

Close to 5,000 people from Chinnalapatti, out of a 40,000 population, depend directly on weaving from time immemorial. The town is famous for its superior texture and top class finishing that Sungudi and kora saris are most sought after by customers in as far as locations such as Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh.

There are about eight societies here where the weavers were members. Every week or fortnight, these societies used to give them yarn, who, in turn, would weave saris and give the finished products and receive payment depending on the quality of saris produced by them.

After the COVID-19 pandemic broke, when the governments declared lockdown from March 25, things here slipped from bad to worse. For many weavers, they were even finding survival a big challenge.

“Restarting our work is far away for us. Getting a gruel to keep ourselves alive is tough...” they said and added that they were forced to remain indoors for long days without any job. There was also no clue as to when normalcy would be restored, they said.

In normal times, the Cooptex procured the finished Sungudi saris from here and sent them to customers in different cities and other States. Likewise, many private textile chain stores and showrooms in Chennai, Kancheepuram, lifted kora saris and Sungudi type.

“With the Adi month now, we would have sold at least one lakh saris as womenfolk going to temple festivals during this Tamil month would purchase. With temples having closed due to the pandemic, there has been no orders..” said K.R. Parameswaran, a weaver and member of Anjugam Weavers' Society.

The closure had not only hit the weavers, but even those dependent on the business. For instance, the saris could not be transported even to other districts within Tamil Nadu due to restrictions from authorities and difficulties in obtaining e-passes, Asokan, a weaver with Kamala Nehru Weavers' Society and who produced 'Amman' model saris for Kancheepuram district customers, said and added that washermen were also hit badly by the COVID-19 as they supplied starch for these saris.

Customers from Coimbatore, Udamalpet, Tirupur, Palani and other towns were fond of 'Amman' saris, which would be printed with red and yellow borders symbolising the colours and idols of the shrines. The orders, which would be placed around March, had never happened. There was a terrible loss, he added.

DMK MLA I Periasami, who represents the Athoor Assembly Constituency, appealed to the State government and the Ministry of Handlooms at the Centre to immediately give monetary assistance of ₹ 10,000 to each weaver through the societies.

He also urged the State government to lift the saris from the weavers and release payment, which would give them the much needed breather. Many of the weavers were finding the going tough and gruel was the only food for them in the present situation, he said.

Source: The Hindu

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Indian Weaver Community : Woes of Chinnalapatti weavers
Woes of Chinnalapatti weavers
The COVID-19 pandemic has doomed the future of weavers in Chinnalapatti that many are finding the very survival a big challenge.
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