Chendamangalam sari: a saga of hope and resilience

Care 4 Chendamangalam, which works with weavers in Kerala, brings the eponymous GI-tagged sari for a fund-raiser exhibition to Bengaluru

In the primary week of June, the monsoon begins its darkish, moody romance with Kerala; sharp showers slam the sodden floor like iridescent sheets of gunfire. It turns the coastal State an unnatural shade of inexperienced, a panorama of crimson earth and pouring rain.

Chendamangalam is a small city close to Ernakulam that stands on the crossroads of three rivers and centuries of historical past and tradition. Dotted with Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu locations of worship, the city was half of the traditional port complicated of Muziris and recognized for its fantastic cotton spun right here by the Devanga Chettiars, a neighborhood of weavers initially from Karnataka.

When the rivers ran riot throughout the Kerala floods of 2018, they not solely threw sludge and mildew on the looms, yarns and completed items of the Chendamanagalam cluster of weavers, additionally they took with them the desires and future of a neighborhood already struggling to remain afloat.

Trustees Meera Mammen (centre) and Minnie Menon (proper) with a weaver from C4C
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Meera Mammen, vice chairman — welfare, MRF, awoke one morning in August that 12 months, her WhatsApp flooded with appeals to save lots of the weavers and their looms. When she visited the city, which has practically 600 weavers, she was distressed by the extent of destruction and reached out to buddies who may assist. It resulted in an initiative known as Care 4 Chendamangalam (C4C) helmed by Chennai-based trustees Preetha Reddy, vice chairman, Apollo Hospitals; Minnie Menon, jewelry designer; Thejomaye Menon, artist; and Shekar Sitaraman, hotelier, with Meera as managing trustee.

In a telephone interview, Minnie Menon says, “Shortly thereafter, Shekar and I visited Chendamangalam along with Meera. We assessed the havoc — worksheds were damaged, stocks were soaking wet. The weavers who met us had a sense of helplessness. Some of the societies were decades-old. We felt the need to restore normalcy in their lives; after all handloom is our national heritage. We identified and adopted a cluster of 42 women weavers, because women — when they are breadwinners — ensure their earnings go towards providing their families with a better life.”

The GI-tagged Chendamangalam sari is recognisable by its puliyilakara border, a skinny black line that runs abreast with the sari’s selvedge. With its extra-weft chuttikara and stripes and checks of various width, its look has modified little because the time of the Paliam household, as soon as prime ministers to the Cochin maharajas, who invited the Chettiars to settle right here and produce these handcrafted treasures.

Actor-VJ Paloma Rao wears a Chendamangalam sari

Meera says that “C4C has two objectives: the first is to revive the cluster that we have adopted, the second is to train the next generation”.

“The saris made from the fine-count cotton yarn of 120s, 100s and 80s take between two to four days of painstaking labour, depending on the design vocabulary,” says Minnie. “A 3-year roadmap was drawn up and we requested established Kochi-based designer Sreejith Jeevan, founder of the town’s widespread Rouka boutique, to come back on board. We collaborated with him to make sure design intervention, to attraction to the youthful era and a pan-India viewers. Innovations are consciously confined to the graphic-edged finishes and textures with the attribute kasavu zari borders. The result’s a stylish new tackle the traditional, Kerala handloom sari seen by a fashionable lens.”

C4C began interactions with the society of lady weavers in January 2019 and hopes to assist them reap advantages by 2021. “Our mission statement is to ‘Uplift, Upscale, Uphold’. The price range of the saris is between ₹3,300 and ₹7,500. We have held exhibitions in Kerala, and in Chennai and Coimbatore but we have not broken even yet; COVID-19 has certainly not helped either. Our first exhibition in Bangalore, is still part of the journey of recovery for the weavers,” says Minnie.

The exhibition is on from September 21-26, 11 am to 7 pm at Vermilion House, 78/1 Benson Cross Street, Benson Town, Bengaluru. For particulars, name 9986364168 or electronic mail [email protected]

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