As I logged onto Facebook, I stumbled upon a group selling printed Sambalpuri sarees with the same design in multiple colors. My heart sank as I saw my beloved ikats reduced to this form. Not only that, a simple Google search for traditional sarees like Kanchipuram, Patola ikats, Pochampalli ikats, and Banarasi sarees yields cheap imitations on the first page of results. To add insult to injury, a new trend of Papa Silk sarees is a cheap knockoff of the genuine Bomkai Silk sarees worth INR 1500.
As a lover of sarees, I prefer to support the weavers and buy authentic products. Being from the handloom-rich state of Odisha and a seller of Odisha handloom products, I have always promoted handloom products. It’s no secret that handlooms come at a premium cost, but we must recognize the labor and hard work that goes into creating each handloom product. Supporting the industry by purchasing authentic products is crucial as it directly supports the livelihood of families.
While it may seem harmless to purchase a cheap knockoff, it’s important not to promote these products as handlooms. Unfortunately, this practice has contributed to the decline of the handloom industry, forcing many weavers to seek alternative methods to support their families instead of continuing their generations-old work methods.
It is often wondered why handloom products come at a premium price. However, we must recognize that the cost is reflective of the hard work and dedication that goes into producing these beautiful pieces. Just as we demand our worth for the work we do, weavers too deserve to be compensated for their efforts.
The process of creating a single saree can take several days, if not weeks. Each thread is carefully woven into place by skilled artisans who have honed their craft over many years. The result is a unique piece of wearable art that reflects the beauty and cultural heritage of the region.
The decline of the handloom industry has contributed to many weavers seeking alternative methods to support their families, which has had a significant impact on the livelihood of artisans and weavers who rely on the handloom industry for their income. The production of fake handloom sarees using printed fabric has allowed manufacturers to sell the sarees at a much lower price than genuine handloom sarees, which are made using high-quality fabric and require a significant amount of skill and craftsmanship. This has led to a decrease in the demand for genuine handloom sarees and a loss of trust in the handloom industry.
It is important to understand that the decline of the handloom industry not only impacts the weavers but also their families and the community at large. By supporting the industry and purchasing authentic products, we can help sustain this traditional craft and support the livelihoods of those who depend on it.
Handloom products are sacred, representing the traditions and values of the communities from which they originate. To see them reduced to cheap imitations is not only disheartening but also disrespectful to the weavers and their craft. It is crucial that we not only respect the craft but also uphold and promote it. We must value and respect the craftsmanship and hard work that goes into creating handloom products. If we cannot support this heritage, then the least we can do is refrain from demeaning it. Let us take pride in upholding and promoting this cultural heritage, in the hope that many families will continue to thrive in this industry.