While floodwaters have receded, Chendamangalam, 36 km from Kochi, now faces the possibility of losing its centuries-old tradition of handloom textiles.
When waters gushed into the hundreds of houses of weavers and the co-operative societies under which they worked, the first to take a hit was the age-old craft that the village is known for.
Five societies, under which 600 weavers worked, have lost finished textile products, traditional weaving instruments and a huge stock of thread and dye units in the deluge.
The handloom industry of Chendamangalam has a long history. It had been associated with the feudal family of Paliam, whose eldest male member had been the chief minister of the erstwhile King of Cochin. In the early days of its origin at Chendamangalam, the weaving of handloom clothes was meant only for members of the Paliam family.
Now, at a time when the village’s traditional handloom sector is already facing a threat from power looms and fast depletion of manpower to other lucrative sectors, the flood has dealt it a massive blow.
According to T S Baby, president of Paravur Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society, the loss for five societies would amount to approximately Rs 15 crore. “In terms of loss, the amount may not appear to be big. But, if the sector is not revived, it would mean the death of this traditional craft, which recently got the GI (Geographical Indication) tag,’’ he said.
P A Sajan, secretary of the Chendamangalam Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society, said the flood has left the societies and their members paupers. “We have 113 people working on our society’s premises and another 80 who had installed handlooms at their houses. The flood has left nothing in showrooms, handlooms and dyeing units.’’