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Silk Weaving in Varanasi, India

Silk Weaving in Varanasi

Varanasi is well known all over India for its production of fine silk and Banarasi saris. Silk weaving industry is dominant in Varanasi. A number of Muslims called as Momin Ansari Muslims are involved in the manufacturing industry. Due to its intricate design and finest silk the Banarasi saris are used on wedding and some other special occasions. Ansari is the name given to the Muslims who belong to a weaver community. Ansari means “helper” in Arabic. Weaving is generally done in the household. From generations they are working in the weaving industry. It’s an art, it’s a culture, it’s a heritage product but it’s a dying art.

A large number of child labour are bonded in the silk weaving industry in Varanasi. Male child works in the industry and the female child use to increase the income of their family working from home. Knowing that the children of age of 5 or 6 begin to work in industry boggles the mind. And according to Human Rights Watch- it is believed that to teach the lessons of work to the age of 5 or 6 is more efficient than teaching an older child of 12. The children work twelve or more hours a day, six and a half or seven days a week, under conditions of physical and verbal abuse. According to a data, it is estimated that there are 3000000 weavers in Varanasi. But now a days, slowly and gradually the demand of Banarasi sari is lessening day by day. Now women are attracted towards imported saris and also sari is replacing by various other dresses. As a result numerous weavers have lost their work or moved somewhere else in search of work. Basically the Banarasi sari is known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, intricate design, fine silk and opulent embroidery. Banarsi saris are mostly worn by women on important occasions such as- attending a wedding and some other special party or function.

Weaver associations and cooperatives of the weaving industry in Uttar Pradesh together secured Geographic Indication (GI) rights for ‘Banaras Brocades and Sarees’ in the year 2009. As per the GI right no sari or brocade made outside the six identified districts of Uttar Pradesh i.e. Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts, can be legally sold under the name of Banaras sari and brocade.

Along with the holy ghats the weaving industry has also become the destination for tourists. For sake of experiencing the life of weaver and how silk is made the Manglam tour offers the tourists. Tourists are able to see compact weaving, painting, opulent embroidering, printing etc.

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