Weaving has been the mainstay of every Kullu-ite’s livelihood for generations now. A month long study by Anoop H, Shilpa Kendre, Jyothsna Sekar, Shilpi Baral from SP Jain Institute of Management of Research (Mumbai) in association with My Himachal reveals startling facts on the health of the traditional Kullu weaving industry. The advent of technology and the opening up of numerous employment avenues has left this industry reeling.
The number of weavers has reduced by around 50% over the last decade. More and more weavers are leaving the profession to jump over to occupations that promise them greener pastures. Those still sticking to weaving are migrating to Ludhiana, where they have the opportunity to work in a more organised environment. The power looms in Ludhiana, are swamping the industry with their mass production and low cost capabilities. A short survey amongst locals, tourists, weavers revealed the following startling facts. Read the rest of this entry
You never know what you have been missing until it arrives. This adage can’t be more apt than for the weavers here. The folks in this valley are just plain contented. Either they have very little aspirations or very high levels of self satisfaction.
According to the 1995 census, Kullu district had 28,500 weavers. 12 years hence, officials can only approximate the number to around 11,000. Is the industry dying? Read the rest of this entry
The scenic landscapes of Kullu beckon avid travellers to visit the hinterlands of this small town. Shopping does take a top priority on the itinerary of these tourists who come from all across the globe. It is observed that most foreign tourists acquaint themselves to the location by investing a great deal of time in reading about it through travel guides like the Lonely Planet and Thomas Cook. The internet has also recently been one of the popular media through which tourist information is disseminated. Indian tourists on the other hand, normally come via package tours and are spoon fed by their travel guides. Read the rest of this entry
For tourists from across the globe, the hilly terrain of Manali-Shimla is a shoppers’ paradise for woollens. The heart of the weaving industry is in the small town of Kullu, 40Kms away from Manali. As one enters this scenic valley, colourful traditional Kullu shawls dot the sideways of every market street and one can see huge signboards atop tiny shops flashing ‘Traditional Kullu Shawls’. This is bait to the blind crocodile. Many of these shawls are not handcrafted, sometimes not even made in Kullu. They are mostly machine made shawls sourced from other towns in the country.
Is it that one doesn’t care enough to make an informed decision while buying or is it that one fails to see the value in a handcrafted product?
I am afraid it’s both. On one hand, tourists have little or no time on their itinerary to go searching for an authentic store and are more often than not directed by their local travel guides or the rickshaw drivers and cabbies to one of the numerous bogus shops that sell machine made shawls at hefty discounts (sometimes as high as 50%). A setup of a few handlooms in the periphery of the store serve as a perfect backdrop to disguise the machine made shawls as handmade shawls. While the tourist walks out of the store with discounted shawls, the local guide walks away with his share of commission, thus making this whole money making act a farce in the name of tourism.
On the other hand, as consumers, we fail to recognize the value of a handcrafted product. The value of art does not reside in the price we pay for it, but in the efforts that have gone into making that masterpiece; that masterpiece which is born out of the dexterity of the weaver, his eye for weaving an intricate design from his own palette of colours, the long hours of adeptly crossing the warp and woof to create kaleidoscopic patterns on the fabric, creating designs which by no means can be replicated on a programmed machine that churns out batch after batch of immaculate shawls at the press of a button. The power looms can produce a shawl in a couple of minutes while the weaver spends an average of four days to weave an elaborate design on his handloom. We must learn to appreciate the beauty of inherent imperfections in a handcrafted product that renders it it’s exclusivity. No price is too high to pay for unadulterated art, be it for the purity of the wool, the sanctity of the natural organic dyes or the simplicity and genuineness of the heart of the person who is making it.
The campaign will carry a series of articles dedicated to the Traditional Kullu Shawl Weaving industry. The art of weaving is a part of the Kullu tradition and pride. Many here believe this art would die with the turn of the generation, as it is no longer considered lucrative by the locals. In our efforts to revive this industry, we present a hotchpotch of views, ideas, opinions, facts and ground realities. The main intention of this campaign is to spread awareness about the state of this industry, its bottlenecks, brainstorm possible ways of removing them and to generate enough interest amongst the public to help the weaver regain his lost glory.
SAVE THE WEAVER
…help him weave colour into his life again
Are we crucifying Art at the altar of Technology?
Are the benefits of development restricted only to those at the top of the pyramid?
Are those at the grass root level being exploited?
Do we as consumers bestow enough faith in the genuineness of the product that we buy?
Do we think twice before we buy?
Do we value the beauty of a handcrafted product?
Read the rest of this entry
Utter the name Kullu and most people would say Shawls.
Shawl making is an age old tradition, a heritage, a rich legacy that has been passed over from generation to generation in this wonderful valley. The hand made Kullu shawls are known to be vibrant in colours, rich in designs and is guaranteed to keep you warm. Read the rest of this entry
My Himachal, the global Himachali organisation formed for state betterment in 2006 has announced its new office bearer’s team today.
Mr. Avnish Katoch who hails from Baijnath, Kangra has been elected the new President. Mr. Katoch the brainchild behind the move and co-founder of this non-profit organization is currently an IT consultant in Harrisburg (USA).
Dr. Meena Pathania, a Dental Surgeon from Dharamshala currently based in California has been elected the Vice President.
Dr. Des Kashyap, a Microbiologist from Kullu who is currently a research scientist at University of North Carolina, has been elected General Secretary.
Mr. Sumant Sood, a research engineer in semiconductor field based in Vermont, US and originally from Una has been elected as Joint Secretary while Mr. Anil Chandel an entrepreneur and IT expert from Bilaspur was elected as Treasurer.
Dr. Sudarshan Kumar Vatsyayan a young research scientist from Ghumarwin in Bilaspur district has been elected Vice President, India Chapter. Dr. Vatsyayan has made state proud recently when he bagged the prestigious first Safran and French Embassy Award, 2007. Currently he is Assistant Professor with IIT, Powai’s Department of Aerospace Engineering.
The advisory board consists of Mr. Payson Stevens, artist, best selling author, a trained earth scientist, with past experience with NASA and formerly the founder of science companies, Mr. Sanjeeva Pandey IFS, Mr. Navin Katoch of Himachal Culture Association in Canada and Dr. Bhugol Chandel the outgoing President of My Himachal.