Chendamangalam is a beautiful village that is famous for its handlooms. It is located 30kms away from Ernakulam town and is blessed with artisans who are skilled at the traditional craft of handlooms. As Chendamangalam is considered to be a place that produces some of the best quality handlooms in Kerala, it has been bestowed with the title – The Handloom Village.
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The History of Chendamangalam
The story begins from the Paliyan Palace, where Paliyath Achan was king. Initially, clothes brought from Tamil Nadu were used by the royal family. Once a trader from Chaliyan lineage presented the finest quality fabric to the king. The king was satisfied with the quality of the cloth and asked the trader to produce the same fabric in the village of Chendamangalam. This marked the beginning of handlooms in Chendamangalam. Years later, the Chendamangalam handlooms ‘grew into a brand’ and thousands of people started to work in this sector.
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The Production Process
The production of handloom clothes is time-consuming and requires a lot of skill. White threads provided by cooperative societies are dyed, dried, and stretched in the first stage. Then they are beaten with a wooden rod to make the layers well placed and to make individual layers close to each other. Once done, the artisans apply maida paste with an adequate amount of water. This is dried again and oil is applied over the thread to make them smooth. The thread taken to the loom is used to weave clothes using traditional weaving machines.
Kerala flood and The Birth of Chekutty
The 2018 flood had destroyed the homes and weaving- equipment of Chendamangalam villagers. Clothes that cost around ₹21 lakhs were damaged. Gopinath Parayil and Lakshmi Menon came up with the idea of making dolls from these clothes that were damaged. These dolls were called Chekkutty (short for “Cherine Athijeevicha Kutty”). Various NGOs, students and hundreds of volunteers joined the team and made thousands of Chekkutty dolls. They earned ₹33 lakhs from the sale of Chekutty dolls. This helped the people of Chendamangalam get back on their feet.
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Low wages and financial problems plague the weavers of Chendamangalam. But still, a good number of villagers stay in the profession with the hope to see a better tomorrow. Nothing, not even a natural calamity, has been able to defeat or dissuade them. If you visit the village, you will see the faces of warriors; warriors who defeat the hurdles in their lives through looms that weave clothes and their dreams.