7th August 1905- Monday- The day is important and is remembered for two reasons or better say for its cause and effect.
Cause- To protest against the unjustified British rule in India, the then freedom movement leaders like Aurobindo Ghosh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and several others started a Swadeshi Movement asking Indians to boycott all British products and use only those made in India.
Effect- The effect of this Swadeshi movement led to a boost to the handloom heritage of India which was then exploited at the hands of British. To commemorate this, it was decided in 2015 to observe August 7 as National Handloom Day every year.
Ancient Indian handlooms were known for their rich techniques, fine thread count, exclusive motifs, vibrant colours, intricate detailing and elaborate workmanship. Explorer Marco Polo compared the finesse of Indian fabrics to the delicate weave of the spider’s web. Roman emperors treasured Indian cotton, while muslin was greatly admired in Babylon. Even today, Indian handlooms, be it cotton or silk, are much sought after by people around the world.
The history of handlooms and handwoven fabrics in India dates as far back as the Indus Valley Civilisation. Excavations in Mohenjodaro led to the discovery of spindles and terracotta spindle whorls, which proved that early inhabitants of the civilisation knew to grow cotton, spin and weave.
1905 and now 2019, a century and fourteen-year-old handloom heritage of India now has more than 4.3 million people directly involved in the production, the handloom industry is the second-largest employment provider for the rural population in India after agriculture.
But our Indian handloom heritage is more than 2000 years old and still only growing young and younger with every day through its unique designs and colours. Indian handlooms hold a major chunk in the handwoven fabric, 95% in the world.
Each region of India has its own textile tradition and known for the production of distinct varieties of material. Khana material is always produced by keeping definite width and length. Women in north Karnataka and some parts of Marathwada and Vidharbha regions in Maharashtra use this Guledagudd Khana.
The art of ornamenting handloom fabrics in India is an age-old traditional technique and custom from time immemorial. Although India abounds with numerous types of costumes for women, saris and blouse have assumed special importance and significance.
Many brands are working with weavers from different regions like Peter England (weavers from Andhra Pradesh), Biba (mainly from Rajasthan and Gujarat), Allen Solly (Pochampally Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society from Telangana), among other retail brands. Raymond has been working with linen, launching their Khadi collection last year.
To revive the handloom sector, the state of Kerala has made it mandatory for all schools to get uniforms from handlooms. A step like this should be encouraged in all the states of India so as to give a boost to our thousands of year old heritage- Handloom. Because, in the end, we are a thread of our heritage.