Despite India being the largest producer of handloom fabric in the world, the handloom weaving sector continues to be declining. The second-largest employment provider for the rural population is the handloom sector in India, the first being agriculture.
It is a well-known fact that COVID-19 has not spared any industry, which left the handloom sector back to more suffering. As the current and previous sales stopped during the lockdown time, the inventory piled up with no sales for weavers.
Saving The Handloom Weavers and Handloom Sector
Many artisans are now willing to look for another work or to migrate to survive because of the pandemic crisis. The centuries-old art of weaving art passed down to generations in different parts of India is now under a lot of suffering.
After looking at the concerning situation, the government of India and private companies have immediately come forward to putting in extra effort to help the handloom sector. To protect the different handwoven techniques, many private organizations also have supported weavers during and post-pandemic.
To revive India’s ancient weaves and to bring awareness of the need to shift to natural fibers the campaign “Save the weave” was launched by Sadhguru, founder of Isha Foundation.
The ministry of textiles is to tie up with more and more E-commerce companies to promote and sell handloom weaves. Many big commercial brands are also tying up with weavers for fabric procurement.
“It is a crime to wrap a child in a polyfiber. You do that to dead fish, not to living children. Especially a child’s body is very vulnerable to this – both their physical and psychological wellbeing is impacted by polyfiber entering into their system,”.SADHGURU
As COVID-19 changed the whole perspective of shopping, online shopping has seen tremendous growth but, with it comes many challenges. To provide pure handloom sarees to customers directly from weavers and bring handloom weavers to global attention, Poonam Daga founded “Village Haat by Poonam” based in Hyderabad.
The need for verified E-retailers for promoting pure handwoven textiles is very much needed now. Pure handloom textiles are sold only by a handful of E-retailers in India and, it has become difficult for consumers to shop from a verified E-retailer.
During the pandemic, when most of the fast fashion textile industries have refused to pay their workers, E-retailers who promote handlooms have made sure to pay their weavers to support their families.
To save the weaving heritage of India and giving them global recognition retailers, government, private companies as well as consumers need to work together.
Few handwoven techniques in India are on the verge of going extinct and, it is we who need to take the responsibility to protect the art of handwoven. The handloom industry is not only about preserving culture but also a way to sustainable living.