Chendamangalam, a small town in the Ernakulam district of Kerala, is famous for its centuries-old handloom textiles industry, particularly the sarees it manufactures.
Unfortunately, last month when water from the Periyar river flooded the showrooms, dyeing units and factories of the five co-operative societies which employ approximately 600 weavers, it destroyed any flicker of hope for a fruitful Onam season, when their sales are the highest.
For an industry already competing with mechanised textiles, the loss of Rs 21 lakh worth of stock including sarees, shirts and dhotis is too much to take. The total loss to the handloom industry in Chendamangalam is approximately Rs 15 crore.
These are indeed dire times for the local handloom industry.
In the midst of such devastation, hope for the weavers of Chendamangalam has come in the form of noted designer Lakshmi Menon, and Gopinath Parayil, the CEO of a travel company.
In coordination with one of the five cooperative societies, which employs 60 weavers, the duo is helping them convert some of the damaged stock into ‘Chekutty’ dolls, reports The Indian Express. One can roughly translate the Malayalam word Chekutty into ‘the child who overcame dirt.’
GiveIndia and The Better India have come together to help Rebuild Kerala by supporting 41,000 affected families. You too can be a part of this movement and help us raise funds for the NGOs working to rehabilitate these families. If all of us come together with a small monthly contribution, we can make a real and meaningful difference in helping restore normalcy to those who need our help the most.
Unable to view the above button? Click here
In these times of despair, the dolls have emerged as symbols of hope. The duo has raised an army of volunteers who clean and chlorinate the damaged sarees, shirts and dhotis and help these weavers convert them into dolls. In fact, the economics of the entire venture seems on point considering they can make 360 dolls from a six-metre saree.
Costing Rs 25 a pop, dolls made out of one damaged saree can gather revenues up to Rs 9000. In the open market, the same saree wouldn’t cost more than Rs 1300-1500.
No two dolls are the same, with artist volunteers doing their own painting and decoration even though everything else until then follows a set design.
Both Lakshmi and Gopinath have invited volunteers to join them, take the material, learn how to craft these dolls and sell them to their network of friends. However, all the money collected from these sales is directed to the bank account of that particular cooperative society.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gopinath said, “The entire proceeds from the doll sale will directly go towards the rebuilding of the weavers’ society in Chendamangalam.”
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)