Boost for Chendamangalam weavers! Ahead of Onam, hues of naturally dyed handwoven textiles in spotlight  

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August 20, 2020 4:27 PM

Hear the word 'Chendamangalam' and it echoes with the hues of handloom weaves, traditions and culture. 

chendamangala handloom weaveBoost for Chendamangalam weavers

Boost for Kerala’s handloom village Chendamangalam! ‘Save the Loom’ has launched a unique initiative of naturally dyed handwoven textiles using extracts from Kerala’s rich floral diversity. Days ahead of Kerala’s much loved festival Onam, the handloom village is back in the spotlight. Hear the word ‘Chendamangalam’ and it echoes with the hues of handloom weaves, traditions and culture.  During Kerala’s devastating floods in 2018, the news about Chendamangalam’s weavers and their huge losses had catapulted the plight of its handloom weavers into national spotlight. In fact, the tragedies that fell upon its weavers had shattered their hopes of a better life.

With the Onam festive season, Keralites across the globe typically celebrate by gifting ‘Onakodi’ to their loved ones, particuarly family members with handloom weaves.

This Onam may be an exception to this practice as people are wary of moving out to shop or buy ‘Onakodi’ in any of the malls or shops.

‘WithYouChendamangalam’ trends during Kerala floods
Few may remember how the hashtag ‘#WithYouChendamangalam’ began trending amidst Kerala floods in 2018.  With celebrities tweeting about Chendamangalam weavers, the need to restore normalcy became essential. Kerala’s celebrities, actors and fashion designers came forward to support the cause of the weavers whose dreams and hopes for a stable livelihood were shattered when everything was destroyed in the 2018 Kerala floods.

According to a report cited by ‘Save the Loom’, Kerala government’s District Industries Centre had pegged an immediate loss of Rs 4 crores to Chendamangalam while Rs 15 crores was pegged by weaving societies and analysts as the total estimation of damage caused, taking into account factors including factors including post flood recovery time, direct as well as indirect loss to the weavers.

Restoring normalcy to Chendamangalam handloom weavers

Undoubtedly, preserving the handloom ecosystem has been a top priority for Chendamangalam. While ongoing efforts continue and much needs to be done, it comes as a boost for weavers of the region that ‘Save the loom’ has launched ‘Amalda’ in collaboration with Clothes without Borders. This is its first series of naturally dyed textiles from the weavers of Chendamangalam. This continuing series is set to highlight handwoven textiles using extracts as well as variants from Kerala’s rich floral diversity.

More details are being updated on ‘Save the loom’ on its social media pages, which highlight how the team is also working with experts to come up with new methodologies and processes to identify indigenous plants that can yield natural dye compounds and their biochemical properties. Notably, Kerala has over 4600 varieties of flowering plants.

What happened in Chendamangalam during Kerala floods?
Around 300 weavers became jobless during the Kerala floods. A key factor to consider is that 90 per cent of the workforce comprise of women, mostly above the age of 50 years and single earning member of their family. Given the impact on their lives, several organisations came forward to restore their looms, of which ‘Save the Loom’ has also played a pivotal role in Chendamangalam.

Which were Chendamangalam’s worst hit areas?
According to local reports, the worst hit areas are Karimbadam and Kuryapilli. It cites that thread worth around Rs 39 lakhs had been damaged at a yarn bank  in Karimpadam, with its central dyeing unit being destroyed too. The destruction plunged weavers into utter despair and it took tremendous efforts and campaigns on social media to bring them back to a certain degree of normalcy today.

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