The Hands Behind Beautiful Banarasi Saree, Varanasi.
The Banarasi saree is the undisputed queen of all sarees. Radiating class, sophistication, and elegance, the Banarasi saree is the hallmark of the Indian tradition of weaving. The highlight of Banarasi sarees is the lustrous and durable silk and the rich ethnic motifs woven with threads of gold, silver or zari. Owning a Banarasi saree is a dream for every woman irrespective of her ethnic or social background.
The saree was born in the holy city of Banaras in Uttar Pradesh. The craft was introduced by the Mughals during the 14th century. The migration of Gujarati silk weavers to Banaras in the 16th century led to the beginning of silk brocade weaving. With a rich cultural past, Banarasi sarees create an aura of mystique and sophistication around those who wear them. Weaved with gold and silver threads, the Banarasi saree was an attire fit for royals once. An ideal Banarasi silk saree is made up of 5,600 thread wires and takes somewhere between 18 and 150 days to take shape. Despite the industrial revolution, the speciality of Banarasi sarees lies in the handwoven designs.
Children of the weaving community are perhaps the worst affected lot. They lose out their childhood as their mothers work for long hours, there is no crèche or daycare facility and they loiter unattended. They are denied their right to health, education and other opportunities for development. When uncared, many children are drawn towards drugs, criminal elements and indulge in other undesirable / anti-social activities.
Further, children are made to sit on looms so as to speed up their saree-production. They help in creating design pattern (Buti) and operating the shuttle (Dharki phekna). Children are sold and bought for meagre amount or loan extended to their parents. A bonded person, however, can move from one owner to another provided the new owner pays off the outstanding debt to the first owner.
Picture Credits: @tejpalmohit.
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