The raging pandemic has left the Dhaniakhali handloom weavers high and dry as they continue to reel under severe losses and have little hope that the upcoming festive season will help in revival.
Dhaniakhali is a semi-rural area in Hooghly district, known globally for its handloom sarees which generally have high demand in the market due to their superior quality, durability, the amazing artistic designs, among other specialities.
Dobi Naksha and are Baluchari are the traditional handloom saris of Dhaniakhali. However, the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have had a disastrous impact on the Dhaniakhali handloom business. The industry is at present struggling for its survival burdened with losses.
The demand and sale for Dhaniakhali handloom saris have touched a record low. The manager of Samaspur Union Co-operative Weavers Society Limited, Binoy Ghoshal Laha, said, “Since the covid breakout and the imposition
of total and partial lockdowns, the demand and order placement for Dhaniakhali handloom saris have touched the nadir. This has made the survival of the weavers and their families, difficult. Nearly 50 per cent of the handloom weavers have set out in search of other means of livelihood.”
Laha informed that at present nearly 4500 handlooms still exist in Dhaniakhali and yet the weaver families are in dire straits despite the festive season is knocking at the door. “The wholesale market for the handloom saris have not picked up while the retail marketing is not enough to generate the required profit. ‘Tantuja’ is the major buyer of Dhaniakhali handloom saris but the sale from the Tantuja outlets is discouraging. Hence a major stock of the handloom saris still lay with the different handloom cooperatives in Dhaniakhali.
The revival of the handloom business even during the festive season is very bleak” he said. He pointed that cheap modes of transportation play a vital role. “Regular local train services have not been yet resumed which has badly affected the Dhaniakhali handloom industry. We hope the state government led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee will extend help to these weavers and their families.”