Villages in some upazilas of Cumilla were once abuzz with sounds of handloom, the machine for weaving Khadi. But with the changing times, this traditional handloom cloth, spun into yarn on a spinning wheel, is slowly heading towards extinction.
Fearing for the worst, the Khadi weavers and traders have been demanding to keep this tradition alive by funding and training the craftsmen.
In the past, a number of villages in Chandina, Debidwar and Muradnagar upazilas used to weave the traditional cloth from dawn to late at night.
But lack of capital, yarn and necessary manpower are making it hard for the old generation to continue the business and they are discouraging the young generation to take over it.
Khadi industry expanded quickly in Cumilla region during Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement against the British rule. The hand spun fabric became popular among the poor at the beginning of the 18 century.
Later, the traditional cloth gradually gained popularity at home and abroad. Now, people mainly buy and wear Khadi during various festivals.
After visiting Chandina and Debidwar, the correspondent found only 8 to 10 spinning wheels in operation. Many weavers have left the profession of their forefathers having failed to survive the cutthroat competition.
The weavers and the Khadi traders urged the government to immediately take measures to protect the industry and feared that it may extinct otherwise. The Khadi craftsmen said the industry can be saved by forming a board or association and organising exhibitions at home and abroad.
“The craftsmen must be given proper training. Khadi exhibitions at Bangladesh embassies will help create interest among foreign buyers,” said Khadi organiser Pradip Kumar Saha Kanti.