This is what we mean when we say hand-made is crafted from the heart. In this edition, we take you behind the scenes to uncover the meticulous story of creation that goes into the making of every product in a humble, handloom collective called Charaka.
A thriving village community that’s buzzing in harmony with nature, we visited Heggodu to take a look behind the making of a handloom garment.
Prasanna and his collective of fabric-makers at Heggodu have figured out hyper-local innovative solutions that manage waste, create livelihoods and make pure handloom products in their co-operative, called Charaka.
Prasanna’s roots lie in theatre. The Sangeet Natak Akademi winner has been writing and directing plays since the 1970s, and has been a vocal activist for most of his life. Naturally, he’s made the world his stage in the village of Heggodu with Charaka – a multi-purpose industrial co-operative society.
In simpler terms, this means that Heggodu’s handloom co-operative does everything from weaving, dyeing, tailoring and embroidery in one place, making it one-of-its-kind in our country. Typically fabric communities focus one aspect of its making – such as weaving in Mangalgiri or hand-block printing in Bagru.
He says the magnitude of environmental problems he saw around him, led to the idea of creating a community of handloom weavers. What’s interesting to note, is that Heggodu is not a weaving town, but has now gone on to become a multi-process factory that handles weaving-to-final output, all in one place.
KINDER TO THE WORLD
A labour-intensive process that can only be explained by its love for the natural environment, every worker in Charaka has skill-based designated tasks that range from dyeing, weaving, block printing, embroidery and tailoring.
Sometimes, the dyeing process alone takes over 3 days, with multiple levels of hand-dipping to create long-staying colour, which is then painstakingly dried in the shade of silt cottages.
NATURALLY SOURCED RAW MATERIAL
The idea was to find a way to stop over-farming of land by giving agrarian communities an alternate, eco-friendly profession.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the co-operative is the materials they use to create colours.
Indian madder is used to obtain pink, the waste water from the areca nut plantations abundant in the area is used to dye fabrics brown, while discarded pomegranate peels are used to create yellows.
The communities here are as self-sufficient as they come, and they’re richly equipped with process and skill knowledge that they use to run their operations.
One of the weavers says she finds this work easier than the manual work in the fields. There’s a sense of camaraderie and easy friendship between all of them, as the women begin their day with communal prayers before work.
“Another reason for choosing natural dyes was the spurious nature of the fabrics that were being sold to the unwitting customer in the name of handloom. Around 70-75% of what’s branded as handloom in India is often not – that’s why we branded ourselves to let the consumers know they get pure handloom products from us. Since Heggodu is not a weaving community, we had to build everything here. This is how we became a multi-process weaving society. “
THE WAY FORWARD
“Women have asked, why don’t you start a Charaka in our village – we say we can’t start a Charaka in your village, you have to do it yourself, but we will help you do that.”
Charaka is also equipped to do what they call ‘product re-profiling’. This includes advising other handloom communities after an in-depth analysis to advice process changes in its creation to eliminate product flaws.
Discover more of their work as a part of The Humbl Co.’s Roots Collection on Spoyl.
“It’s not only a production place, it’s also a cultural space. Culture and production. Factory and theatre. They merge when you go into a rural place.”
This story is brought to you from The Humbl Co.’s eco-conscious Roots Collection that aims to give back to communities in small yet significant ways, in line with the face of the brand Mahesh Babu’s humanitarian efforts.