Drape with love! Here's how you can help handloom weavers revive dying forms

Updated: 03 October, 2017 14:01 IST | Suprita Mitter |

Wear a handloom saree, take a picture and post it on social media to help weavers revive dying forms

Neelima Kamrah from Gurugram wearing a Kashmiri Aari embroidery saree
Neelima Kamrah from Gurugram wearing a Kashmiri Aari embroidery saree

In August 2015, Delhi-based author Sunita Budhiraja started a Facebook campaign called Six Yards and 365 Days, urging women to drape the elegant attire every day of the year. “I developed a liking for the saree by seeing my mother drape the six yards daily. I wore one of her sarees for the first time in 1970, and then bought my own on October 9, 1972. My mother would drape her saree in less than two minutes. I emulated that and today, I wear mine in a minute and 10 seconds flat,” says Budhiraja.

Rumana Hussain from PakistanRumana Hussain from Pakistan

Over the years, Budhiraja felt that with the youth taking to comfortable clothing, there was a need to inculcate knowledge about the traditional unstitched attire. “Our weavers, who create gems, have moved towards cities in search of better paying avenues. Understandably, they no longer want to sweat it out in the heat and dust of villages, weaving sarees for which they are under paid. As a result, the number of traditional weavers has declined drastically and several saree weaves are becoming extinct,” shares Budhiraja, as she rues the current predominance of power looms. “Last year, when I was trying to find ways to help weavers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi started the Digital India campaign. The idea of connecting women, who wear sarees through social media crossed my mind and I realised that this would also give a boost to the demand for hand-woven sarees,” she adds.

Rumana Hussain from Pakistan
Preetijyotnsa Deo from Bhubaneswar in a Chanderi

The campaign, which started with just four members, has 7,000 members today, many of whom not only religiously wear handwoven sarees with pride, but also have their photographs clicked in them almost every day and post it on the Facebook group. There are members who have posted their 50th, 100th and 200th sarees, including Budhiraja who posted her 300th handloom saree picture in September. The members include artists, authors, theatre persons, educationists, entrepreneurs, doctors, NGO workers, communication professionals and housewives from all income groups, and between 20 and 70 years. Apart from India, the group includes members from USA, Canada, UK, Middle East, Far East and parts of Asia, including Pakistan.

Sunita Budhiraja in a Pichhwai
Sunita Budhiraja in a Pichhwai

“The sole idea of the campaign was to support the weavers but it has gone beyond that objective. It has created a community of women, who join hands to support each other emotionally. We have symposiums and people have even connected with each other on a one-on-one basis,” shares Budhiraja. “I have met women who have said that they were not appreciated by anyone in their family, but after joining the group, they recieved compliments from the co-members and their self-esteem is back. Few members are also working particularly on reviving the Maniyabandha, Chanderi and Maheshwari weaves,” she sums up.

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First Published: 24 December, 2016 11:23 IST

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