We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone… and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something. – Sandra Day O’Connor
Meet Uma Shankar Pathak Ji! A weaver and owner of Vishwanath Enterprises, manufacturer of Banarasi sarees, dupattas, yardage. A witty and jovial by nature, Pathak ji started working when he was only 15 years old, now he is in his early 60s and he lives & breathe with this ancient art. He is living history and shares anecdotes in most interesting manner. He says that he has learnt and taught this art to many weavers.
But post lockdown and due to Covid Pathak ji is worried about the market and the distress he sees around. His stock is lying at warehouse and he is very sad by seeing condition of his daily wage artisans. He says “Karigar ki halat bahut kharab hai, saman bun raha hai, lekin bik nahi raha hai. Government koi madad nahi kar rahi hai. 25% market hi bacha hai.” Means the condition of artisans is very sad, they are weaving fabric, but its not selling. Government is also not helping. Only 25% market is left. He also shares that not all the weavers have ‘Ration Card’ , hence they are unable to receive the benefits of government run schemes of free grain.
our conversation began with Pathak ji on problems being faced by weavers but it end up discussing harmony, the basic fabric of Varanasi culture is ‘Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb’, brethren love among all communities. He proudly says that “Hamara choli daman ka saath hai ji” .
In another couple of days, our India will be observing National Handloom Day i.e. 7th August. I feel that its the perfect day when government should organise something long lasting which can improve market for our weavers.