Varanasi Handloom Weavers

Advocacy, Case studies, Codes of Practice, Craftspersons/ Artisanal

Varanasi Handloom Weavers: Lost in the Urban and Global Jungle

Jaitly, Jaya

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The 'Banaras' sari has a history that goes back more than a thousand years in one of the oldest living cities in the world. Not only home to Hinduism and Buddhism , with the sacred River Ganga attracting millions of travellers, tourists and pilgrims alike over a countless number of years, Varanasi, as it is now known, has also cradled and nurtured the largest number of handloom weavers in the country. Every bride had a Banarasi sari in her trousseau, and the Bombay film industry, always influential, has dressed many of its sparkling heroes and heroines in fine brocades from Banaras. The history of its weavers, their presence and their productivity, is intricately woven into the very fabric of the society of Varanasi, but now, just as local pollution and global warming have affected the quality of the water of the sacred river, so too has the world of the handloom weaver turned murky and sluggish. Most of the weavers along with power loom workers are a mix of both Hindus and Muslims, as are the traders who sell woven cloth produced in the cottage sector. These communities have been intertwined and interdependent over centuries which has lead to harmonious relations, empathy, sympathy and sharing of joys and sorrows. When terrorists tried to create mayhem in Varanasi through bomb blasts near the holy temple area not too long ago, the respected sant of the Sankat Mochan Temple held meetin...
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