National Handloom Day; a day that celebrates the works from many weavers and artesian craftswomen. We cannot disregard the fact that handlooms are an integral part of Indian history, heritage and culture. On this day we can reflect how fabrics created, are inevitably, unreplaceable crafts handmade by visionary, heartful women. Empowered women from many fields came together on the 7th August to celebrate National Handloom Day. Weavers from Narayanpet and Ikat collaborated with designers to showcase creative, artistic and simply exquisite designs. Female weavers, models, actresses, businesswomen and students came from all walks of life and inclusiveness to walk with pride, humbleness and confidence wearing the designs that had been created.
The event is simply one you cannot miss! This year the event at Hotel Green Park, Hyderabad, began with a traditional welcome prayer and lamp invocation from the guests of honour. Y Venkanna Netha, the founder of Handloom Day, presented his own ideas, experience and how the innovation of Handloom Day began. He spoke inspirationally about taking the heritage of handloom and communicating with the prime minister and his government to confirm the 7th August as National Handloom Day; simply an impressive success.
The chief guest included, Padmashri Ramon Magsaysay awardee, anti-child labour activist Prof Shanta Sinha. Renowned guests of honour included Anuradha Gunupati, Founder Trustee Dr.Reddy’s Foundation, Founder of Saptaparni, Padmashri Dr Manjula Anangani, Chief Gynaecologist, Obstetrician, Infertility Specialist and Laparoscopic Surgeon, Kalamandir Kalyan, Trustee – #KalamandirFoundation, Director – Kalamandir Group of companies, Jhansi Lakshmi, Film Actress, Handloom Lover, Entrepreneur, Chitra Sood:, Director Business Management Microsoft India R&D, CSR Lead, Venkat Siddareddy, Author, Director and Editor at Telugu Film Industry, Sreemathy Mohan, Textile Researcher, Revivalist and Entrepreneur, Tamil Nadu, Renu Desai, Film Actress, Model, Producer, Director, Poet.
The 7th August 2019 represented the 5th annual Handloom Day event. We find it important to reflect on the unsung female weavers who were present at the event. This was well deserved as they were given a stage to display their creative talents. It felt positive to give recognition to those who fully deserved this, the women were facilitated at the event which was closely followed by speeches from the guests of honour. Bina Rao, Creative Bee, explained MAC Societies Future and The Road Ahead, explaining the importance and the pivotal role in sustaining such talents. There are 3 new mutually aided cooperative societies.Two are supported by Creative Bee who will be focusing on Ikat whose products will be sold in a nearby village, Koyalagu, whilst Abhihaara support the third society focusing on Narayanpet Swashakti Mahila MAC where their products will be sold over e-commerce. Two are supported by Creative Bee who will be focusing on Ikat whose products will be sold in a nearby village, Koyalagu, whilst Abhihaara support the third society focusing on Narayanpet Swashakti Mahila MAC where their products will be sold over e-commerce.
Bina explains that the three MAC societies will have 100 women members which will be governed by women and an elected president and vice president to accept orders for new collections and decide price points. Allowing women weavers to understand their full potential as they become more self-sufficient, I’m sure you can agree, is nothing more than empowering.
Abhihaara Social Enterprise continues to work with women in the cotton supply chain. The Social Enterprise is involved with Disha and ReWeave a Microsoft Philanthropic initiative. These organisations continue to support men and women in training and developing skills in weaving, craft and design development.
There was time throughout the day for all chief guests of honour, guests and participants to explore the fabrics for themselves due to the inauguration of the exhibition and stalls. This allowed us to see the creativity of the designs up close and personal, which I would recommend to anyone, to witness the range of talent, vision and exclusivity that can be seen within each piece.
The fashion show was designed by Bina Rao, Rama Rabbapragada and Hemanth Siri who showcased a juxtaposition of modern, contemporary and traditional designs to reflect how woven products can be worn in many affordable, elegant and different styles to suit all walks of life. All designs created utilised the fabrics that were woven by the women weavers present at the event. Most fabrics and crafts are done organically, naturally and sustainable which, as we are aware, is pivotal in the modern fashion industry and is something that I thoroughly believe in.
The creativity of the designers manifested in the show with variations of traditions such as Ikat patterns. The models came from a variety of backgrounds including former actress Renu Desai, transgender Harshin iMekala and visually challenged scholar Priyanka. The inclusivity and gender equity in the handloom sector radiated from the event in order to increase the much-deserved recognition for this industry.
The show finished with a vote of thanks by Sudha Rani, Abhihaara Social Enterprise founder. Thanking the event partners, Handloom promotion council, Creative Bee, Abhihaara Social Enterprise; supporting partners, Re Weave Microsoft Philanthropic initiative, Disha, UNDP and Kalamandir foundation. The event finalised with a high tea where all partners, guests and participants could come together to meet, greet and further talk about the importance of handlooms.
Handloom continues to grow and inspire those who wear the visionary fabric. Handloom reflects the Indian heritage, creating comfort, breathability and a skin friendly fabric for the wearer. Not only this but it provides livelihoods for thousands of rural and urban artisans highlighting the importance.
About the Author – ELENA MAKIN
I am from the University of Manchester where I study Fashion Buying and Merchandising. I am interning with Abhihaara Social Enterprise during the summer. It is only since seeing handloom first hand do I realise the true art, talent and work that must go into such a craft. Since I have witnessed this I cannot disregard the fact that I have fallen in love with handloom fabrics. Being a part of National Handloom Day and walking the ramp, with some truly inspirational people, in a traditional saree designed by Rama Rabbapragada opened my eyes to the creative diversity that can be created by handloom and this can be worn and represented by all walks of life.
Initially, I was nervous to be walking in the show, however, once in handloom I couldn’t help but feel empowered and honoured to be wearing something that had taken so much skill, time and craft to create. Once on stage I felt humbled by this opportunity and my confidence came from the fact that I wanted to showcase this creation in the best way possible as my outfit had been heartfully handmade by women that were present at the event. There is a certain comfort that is created once wearing handloom. Knowing it has come from a sustainable process as well as empowered female weavers makes the outfit become all the more personal, creating an identity that connects one with the culture of India.
I cannot encourage anyone enough to try handloom fabrics and outfits to fully understand the wholesome feeling that comes with wearing such delicate yet visionary fabrics and designs.
Many products are organic, natural and sustainable which initially shocked me as the fashion industry has become the second biggest polluter globally. I truly believe that finding organisations who create sustainable fabrics and have sustainable processes is such a rarity in the modern fashion industry. I could only describe hearing this information as music to my ears and this made me love these fabrics more than I could have thought. The art and design that is reflected in the fabric is simply visionary and fascinating and being present at the 5th National Handloom Day was nothing short of an honour.