Udupi sarees on revival mode, skilled weavers return | Mangaluru News – Times of India

MANGALURU: With the growing popularity for Udupi sarees, hand-woven by artisans of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, many weavers who had given up weaving have returned to the profession.
“From nearly 42 weavers producing Udupi sarees two years ago, the number has gone up to 59, including five trainees. People from other communities are coming forward to learn to weave. Even during the pandemic, many weavers worked from their homes with the support of weavers’ societies,” Mamatha Rai, president, Kadike trust told TOI.
She noticed a growing demand for Udupi sarees amid the pandemic. Two years ago, Udupi Saree Revival Drive was launched by Kadike trust in association with Talipady Weavers Society (TWS). A few more societies joined in later.
Fifty-six-year-old Venkatesh Shettigar, a highly-skilled 80 count weaver returned to weaving after 20 years. Similarly, Bharathi Shettigar, 48, worked as an assistant in catering service for 13 years, took up weaving, she said.
“She weaves fast and can weave 60 count saree a day, which is rare these days and is ready to make changes in design. She was one of the first to start weaving natural dyed yarns when the trust introduced natural dyes in Udupi saree weaving. Kadike trust helped Bharathi set up a shed by pooling in Rs 35,000 with the support of volunteer donors,” she added.
The trust is working to help a few more weavers to build sheds since there is no support from the government. There are a couple of other weavers who have returned to weaving after a decade. The major concern was that there were only 42 weavers with only nine highly skilled 80 count weavers and most of them were above 60 years and the younger generation were not trained.
“Several steps like recognising and awarding weavers, branding Udupi saree with a fresh logo with weaver’s name and photo, promoting sarees through social media added confidence among weavers,” said Mamatha.
NABARD sanctioned a grant to the trust to conduct training programmes and five weavers who have completed their training are appointed by TWS, while the second batch of five trainees are undergoing training. While TWS, recently received authorisation to use the GI tag that was obtained in 2016, Kadike trust is working on setting up a natural dye unit.
Meanwhile, Kadike Trust is promoting Yaksha sarees (Kase sarees), produced at Shivalli weavers Society. These sarees have colourful bold checks and are traditionally worn by Yakshagana (Badagathittu) artistes, but now are in demand. They are also supporting Padupanambur Weavers Society in marketing their sarees as a result of which two weavers who were weaving ’Malbar mundu’ have returned to weaving Udupi sarees.

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Sagar Biswas

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