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Regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Youth weaves creative productivity into lockdown

Over the years, most traditional weaving techniques have lost their sheen to power looms and most people, especially the youngsters

Shajid Khan Udalguri Published 24.04.20, 10:45 PM
Lakhsyadhar Deka weaves a mekhela sador at his residence in Bhuyankhat in Udalguri on Friday.

Lakhsyadhar Deka weaves a mekhela sador at his residence in Bhuyankhat in Udalguri on Friday. Picture by Shajid Khan

A young man in Assam’s Udalguri district has decided to use the lockdown period productively by weaving bright handloom products, a skill most youth have forgotten, instead of complaining of loss of livelihood or boredom.

Lakhsyadhar Deka of Bhuyankhat village is a daily wage earner who is out of a job at present. But instead of lamenting about the situation, he is bringing out his creative best by designing motifs on mekhela sadors, the traditional women’s attire in Assam.

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In a sector dominated by women, Deka is breaking stereotypes by working on the loom.

Sitting in a relaxed atmosphere in the courtyard of his house, Deka, who is in his mid-thirties, has been diligently focusing on the loom and producing bright-coloured mekhela sadors enriched with beautiful motifs.

“I have imbibed this skill from my elder sister Nirmali Deka, whom I used to observe closely as a child while she worked on the loom. It is my favourite pastime. However, I only weave a few for my family members and relatives. It think I will produce a dozen during the lockdown,” he told The Telegraph.

Over the years, most traditional weaving techniques have lost their sheen to power looms and most people, especially the youngsters, are seldom seen engaging in traditional practices, posing a threat to the existence of indigenous skills.

Deka said handloom is a labour-intensive sector which requires high skill and long hours of painstaking labour.

He said Assam’s handloom industry, which is deeply rooted in socio-cultural traditions and has a rich heritage of skill and talent, needs to be preserved, perpetuated and promoted, The key to the sustenance of handloom products lies in authentic classification, differentiation and labelling of handloom against powerloom products, he added.

“I feel the challenge is to create a market for these products while ensuring economic viability and a life of dignity for the unorganised handloom weaver communities,” he said.

The indigenous craft of handloom weaving is widely practised in the Northeast, mostly by women. The looms have no permanent fixtures and can be easily shifted as per the weaver’s convenience.

When asked if the present generation prefers powerloom products because it is cheaper, Deka said the youngsters are aware of the value of traditional handloom products.

The managing director of Bodoland Regional Apex Weavers’ and Artisans’ Cooperative Federation Ltd, N.N. Rana Patgiri, said, “In Assam, weaving is replete with artistic sensibility and is intimately linked to folk life and traditional designs and motifs. The handloom products of Assam have a unique identity and charisma which have a booming global and national market. We just need to train the weavers to keep themselves updated with the technological advancements and tap the market.”

Bapan Sarma, a senior citizen here, said, “The young generation, besides getting formal education, must also learn new skills to sustain themselves. They should not be job-seekers but job-givers.”

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