On Monday, the country marked the third National Handloom Day and the whole country saw the Union Minister for Textiles, Smriti Irani draped in the kunbi saree promoting it. NT BUZZ spoke to those who have been associated with the weave over the years to know what they thought
The country paid homage to the handloom industries at the 3rd National Handloom Day, and what caught our attention was the red chequered sari that the Union Minister for Textiles, Smriti Irani draped around herself. In fact while speaking at the event she even gave due credit to the state’s iconic Kunbi sari stating that there are very few weavers of this fabric left to take the art forward. We spoke to a few who have been associated, over the years, with the traditional fabric around that state and asked them to share their thoughts on this happening.
Wearing the traditional Goan kunbi sari Smriti said
“…And Raksha Bandhan is being celebrated alongside 3rd National Handloom Day throughout India. Somewhere this is a thread that is tied on the wrist that is just not for protection, but if weaved and given to someone it becomes a part of clothing that can be worn on the body.
I myself have worn such a sari which is the Goan Kunnbi sari. There are very few weavers of this fabric left to take forward this art.
While I am wearing this, I pay my respects to the weaver brothers and sisters of this traditional fabric who are keeping together civilisation and culture, these threads, this love and tradition together. They face many struggles while preserving this dying trade, to create this fabric.
When somebody buys it it’s not about the price one pays for it or the value in terms of money but when it is worn on some function or event, there are smiles on the face of weavers. It’s like bringing home lakshmi…”
I am sure Ms Irani is well meaning but there are no traditional Kunbi saris woven in the state. A group weaves these saris in Karnataka. So Kunbi sari is being hijacked by a neighbouring state. This said, showing the sincerity that Ms Irani has shown, I wish to open a dialogue and get a grant for looms to assist the Ministry of Textiles to get the sari weaving in the state of Goa. I am hopeful for a positive outcome for Goa’s sake,”
Wendell Rodricks, fashion designer and writer
It is a very welcome move that the Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani wore and promoted the Kunbi sari. The one she wore was one of the saris from our project, in fact when we had sent it to her office we received a reply saying that she would use it for a special occasion. I was pleasantly surprised to see that she chose the Handloom Day and at a place and platform like Delhi to wear it. It surely would have created a lot of awareness about this weave. We, Vinayak Khedekar and I, are now working towards urging the government to declare the kunbi weave as state textile. And if anyone wants to work with the kunbi sari and kapodds we are ready to help them in any way we can.”
Kunbi is a traditional fabric of Goa which was initiated by the tribes’ ages ago. It’s authentically dyed in the warm red colour with very beautiful chequered pattern made out of natural fibres. If its usage and consumption is increased in the market, Kunbi fabric will not just emerge as the traditional and heritage weave of Goa, but will also be used to create a style statement and will garner popularity among the younger crowd if revamped. It’s a big boost for weavers as Smriti Irani promoted it, also by wearing it. It will definitely create more job opportunities too. I can now proudly say that the Kunnbi fabric is my state fabric.”
Verma D’Mello, fashion designer
The fact that the minister Smirti Irani wore and promoted the Kunbi sari on a national platform will create awareness about the weave. There are very few weavers left and we need to have incentives for weaving. Right now the incentives for weavers may not be very attractive, but we need to build a market for the weave. And what we really need right now is a really strong marketing programme to create awareness all over the country. The kunbi is a very simple, humble indigenous weave which not many people have been aware of. But once people know of it, it will be good not only for the weavers of the kunbi sari but the entire handloom industry in Goa. I dare to say that I dream to one day see a thriving handloom industry in Goa.”
Ninoshka Alvares Delaney, fashion designer