The Covid-19 outbreak has thrown life out of gear and also colour, with mostly blue and white surgical face masks symbolically depicting what the world is collectively experiencing. However, with the lockdown being eased and businesses reopening, masks of eye-catching colours, typical Baroda prints and even Khadi material are bringing some cheer to Vadodara.
Amit Padiya, owner of Baroda Boutique and Block Prints, said, “My sister told me that since masks are here to stay, people will soon start looking for colours and designs to match outfits, to break the monotony. Moreover, cotton masks are durable, reusable and more comfortable to wear.”
“My wife and I spent seven hours each on the sewing machine to prepare about 150 masks per day… It also helped generate income. I took the masks to chemists and essential stores and they were sold at Rs 15 each. We have now received inquiries from other states where I have a retail network,” Padiya added
The owner of a popular matching centre in Alkapuri said, “We used almost 3,000 metres of cloth and stitched close to one lakh masks. We have been able to generate revenue for our tailors. The colourful, cotton cloth masks have received a good response… We have been regularly supplying to distributors.”
Nitin Patel, a tailor from Manjalpur, said, “I have decided to stitch masks for free, when customers bring their materials for their outfits. Some friends in the business have also taken cues from weddings… The sight of blue or green surgical masks is heartbreaking… Colours will definitely make people happy.”
Aid, a city-based NGO run by Congress Corporator Ami Ravat, started a similar initiative to generate employment for around 150 women. The women were assigned the task of stitching a minimum of 1,000 masks each, making three rupees for each mask. Ravat made a bulk purchase of over 10,000 metres of cotton fabric of multiple colours, generally used to stitch inner skirts for women’s sarees, from local dealers. He also procured elastic and other stitching materials from manufacturers in Ankleshwar.
“It is good quality cotton, very durable, available in a variety of colours and so, the masks are vibrant. We have made about three lakh masks, which were mostly sold to residential societies… Some were also given for charity and to corporates… Many women are seen sporting masks to match sarees,” says Ravat. Ravat added that he was also approached by temples to supply orange masks that would match the outfits of priests and other temple workers.
The Khadi Gram Udyog in Raopura has also decided to provide matching materials for masks to its patrons. If stitched in the house, the mask is given for free. Manager Jaswant Dalwadi said, “We have seen a stream of visitors who are regular summer shoppers of Khadi material… We decided that we will give material for the mask without any extra cost… It doesn’t cost us much but it can make people happy during the times of Covid-19.”
Nilesh Brahmabhatt, Congress spokesperson in Vadodara and a patron of Khadi Gram Udyog, said, “I picked up five different colours of kurta materials from the shop and got matching masks. It is in trend now.”
Several political leaders have opted for masks that represent the colours of their party. For instance, Congress party leaders have been sporting masks of the tricolour while many BJP leaders have taken to saffron and orange. Cabinet Minister Yogesh Patel’s Shiv Parivar organisation also distributed saffron masks to people in affected areas of the city.
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