Protest with sarees
Sarees woven by women who are part of the Narmada Bachao Andolan are now finding customers in Kerala
KOCHI: When Medha Patkar recently visited Kerala, she brought the sarees woven by the women activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). She wanted to find some loyal customers here to help out the struggling tribal women of Gujarat. Another environmentalist C R Neelakandan approached Charulatha A S, a social activist, for their sale. Now, a WhatsApp group is created for women activists and like-minded people from the state by buying the sarees woven by the tribal women. They say purchasing a saree from them is like joining their protest.
“Medha brought 10 sarees when she visited Kerala recently. Neelakandan, who is also a close friend of mine, gave two of them to me and asked if I could help sell them. Writer S Saradakkutty was the first to buy a saree. She posted about the Narmada saree on her Facebook page, which made it popular among other women who support the issue,” says Charulatha, a teacher in a school in Malappuram district and a member of Anweshi, an NGO supporting helpless women.
After taking a break from her teaching career, she started a small boutique titled ‘Kannaki’, to promote authentic handloom products in 2019. However, she had to close the boutique and shift her products home due to the pandemic. “Only those who love authentic handlooms come in search of my sarees,” quips Charulatha.
For her, revolutions begin from clothes as it is a basic necessity and an identity of a human being. The activist associated with Narmada sarees and started selling them through her brand during December last year. Charulatha says ‘Kannaki’ does not charge even a rupee extra from Narmada sarees.
“These sarees have a great political dimension and they deserve the support of women like us. As the saying goes, the best slogans were best poems, this is also a beautiful protest. ‘Kannaki’ is not charging anything extra for these sarees and the profit is directly reaching the weavers,” says Saradakkutty. “Women can make even the protests productive and constructive,” she added.
Did you know?
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) is a social movement comprising of adivasis, farmers, environmentalists, and human rights activists fight against large dam projects across the Narmada river. The river flows through Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.