Varanasi, apart from being the spiritual headquarters of all those seeking the Truth, is well known for its paan and more importantly, for the famed ‘banarasi sarees.’
But with technological progress and changes in lifestyles, this rare breed of weavers from Varanasi is soon becoming an extinct lot. In fact business is so bad that many have given up on their generations old profession and taken to menial works like driving rickshaws.
income from weaving Banarasi silk saris has fallen to Rs.400-Rs 500 a week. The sari business in a city that has a textile tradition dating back to at least the 16th century but demonetization and GST dealt it a body blow. Things have improved but demand continues to remain feeble. Till the 1990’s there were some 1.25 lakh handloom weavers and today only 20,000 of these remain.
The only good news here – recently when film actor, Anushka Sharma wore a banarasi saree for her wedding, it generated a lot of interest and the weaving was credited to master weaver, Haji Anwar Ahmed.
Hope more and more celebrities take to wearing our own Indian woven fabrics to ensure that these forms of art are kept alive. Please, let us not make all our clothes about Armani or Zara and the likes.... let’s keep the weavers alive.