Patharail, known as the capital of the Tangail sari–is not buzzing with business despite the Eid-ul-Fitr around the corner.
The looms of the weavers village are mostly silent, while the weavers sit idle amid the lockdown imposed by the government to bring the spread of Covid-19 under control. Owners of the cottage industry sari outlets have halted their business as buyers cannot get to the hub. The overall situation has made the sari traders worried over another spell of pandemic-hit dull season prior to Eid market.
Weavers at Patharail produce the iconic hand woven Tangail sari round the year. Normally, their wholesale market as well as retail sees has a huge vibe prior to Eid, Pahela Baishakh and Durga puja.
The first wave of coronavirus pandemic hit the festival-time sari market hard last year, leaving businesses in dire straits. As the pandemic situation started to improve since September, the Patharail sari traders had multiplied production at their looms to boost their stock for the upcoming Baishakh and Eids. But the ongoing lockdown has forced them to shut their business. Due to the two consecutive disruptions in their business, persons related to the sari industry are fearing bankruptcy.
During a recent visit, this correspondent found no looms in operation at Patharail. No sari outlet was open. And the weavers and traders were idle.
The lockdown standstill was a sharp contrast to the seasons even of two years ago when the village would turn vibrant with the crowds of merchandisers from across the country.
Jagyeshwar and Co owner Raghunath Basak said 80 per cent of the Patharail saris–produced prior to the 2020 Eids–were left unsold due to the prolonged general holidays last year.
“We could not sell half of the unsold saris before the Durga puja and onward, even after the general holiday. That’s why the weavers have used half of their usual capacity to produce saris for the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr. But the fresh lockdown has arrived amid the Baishak and Eid market,” Raghunath said.
He expressed his hope that they can sell saris so they can survive the backlash, if the government relaxes the restrictions on business 15 days ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.
Patharail union is located eight kilometers south of Tangail district headquarters. More than 250 families across the union weave and trade the famous Tangail saris. Around 2,000 people are indirectly involved in the Patharail sari industry.
Palash Basak, owner of Sitanath-Ranjit Sari Bitan at Patharail, said that almost all the local weavers produce saris with the financial grants from some public and private financing organisations. “Last year witnessed meagre sales. The impact was devastating to many related to the sari industry. If they is no business in this year, they will make all go bankrupt.”
Paresh Rajbangshi of the same village said that he owned seven looms two years ago. The losses of last year forced him to run only three of the looms. “If I cannot sell the produced saris this time, all the looms will be shut,” he said.
Talking about the challenging time, Tangail Chamber of Commerce and Industries’ general secretary Golam Kibria admitted that weavers producing Tangail saris are badly affected by the Covid-19 restrictions.
He told Prothom Alo, “Special stimulus for those related to the industry is a must for the industry to survive.”
*This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Sadiqur Rahman