I was lucky enough to visit Balaramapuram handloom on handloom day itself. Balaramapuram in the Thiruvananthapuram district is one of the leading handloom products in Kerala. Apart from handloom products, furniture, clothes, electrical products, and metal are all relevant in this village.
This is how the history of the Balaramapuram handloom is told
Handloom was first introduced to Kerala by Maharaja Balarama Varma in 1799 and 1810. He brought 7 handloom families from Tamil Nadu who belong to the Shaliar sect to Kerala. That is how the handloom industry in Kerala started, all the weavers seen today in Balaramapuram are their families and relatives. I went to Balaramapuram as a part of many hearings and investigations. Rajesh, a member of the local weaving family, who is our friend, said that it will be very crowded because it is Onam and it is a holiday. So, we reached the place around 9 o'clock. The first intention was to see weaving and looms. As it was Sunday, there were no weavers in any of the tharis. At the start of the journey, Rajesh was accompanied by a local leader who walked with him and explained everything in detail. The first person I saw was Subramaniam, one of the oldest weavers in Balaramapuram. Adjacent to the house is three looms where the Kerala mundu or dhoti is made. It was possible to see the dhotis woven in various kasavs. Later, I went to see a Golden Kasavu loom, from where sarees are made for weddings using expensive gold thread. He gave information about various types of yarn and construction. He gave a bundle of gold thread and silver thread in his hand as a gift. Later they went up and down in many houses and looms and all of them were people over 50 or 60 years old. Everyone saw a lot, talked and asked a lot of information. The story of a period was to be told. Each one of them narrated about the present situation which is disappearing day by day due to various reasons, from that glorious time to now. For each dhoti or saree, each weaver gets a very small amount, but the middleman or a business person also gets a good profit. The increase in the price of goods and the fact that the new generation does not enter this sector do not affect the work sector of weaving. This culture is disappearing day by day. Lack of income for labor keeps the new generation away from this field. All of them are looking for a new job, instead, the old generation weavers themselves are forced to continue this job despite their health. There are many things that we can do and the first thing is to make handloom fabrics a part of our clothes at least once. Weavers and individual weaving units should be organized and re-energized to bring the production together in order to unite this culture which has been going away and decaying since then.
to be continued