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Indian embassy in Rome highlights India’s exquisite handloom traditions

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On Wednesday, the Indian embassy in Rome organized a reception to highlight India’s beautiful handloom traditions. HE Dr Neena Malhotra, Ambassador of India to Italy, hosted diplomats from France, Canada, Luxembourg, Kenya, Thailand and presented ‘Warp ‘n Weft’, led by Sagrika Rai, a veteran of handloom textiles from India. For Sagarika, handlooms and textiles are a passion rather than a business. She spends most of her time with traditional Indian weavers, most based in and around the timeless Indian holy city of Banaras (Varanasi), who replicate intricate traditional Indian patterns of animals, stories, hunts or auspicious geometric pattern in hand woven silk, which is also called Banarasi Silk.

The trade is passed generationally and the foot-powered loom takes months to spin a saree or brocade or meters of unique hand-made cloth. Among the largest in the world, this industry employs close to 10 million artisans in India and is considered the second-largest income-generating activity after agriculture in rural India.

Indian handlooms account for around 11% of India’s national cloth production and are a dying art. Described by Sagarika as ‘slow luxury’, Banarasi silk has the same royal decadence like most of Indian culture, it’s an explosion of colour and luxury. Indian textiles and silks with their colours and patterns are used in the Italian fashion industry, mostly unknown to the buyers. Celebrating 75 years of India’s independence as well as the 75th anniversary of India-Italy relations, the Indian embassy in Rome is promoting the highlights of India, from handlooms to handicrafts, from technology to tourism. Wednesday’s exhibition not only showcases a female-led successful Indian business, but also a long diverse history of Indian fabrics which are sustainable and created with minimum impact to the environment.

Inaugurating the exhibition, the Indian ambassador to Rome, HE Dr Neena Malhotra said, “The exquisite display and colourful workmanship is representative of the millennial traditions and cultures of India”. She further went to congratulate Sagarika Rai on her dedication to the segment, which has suffered deeply in recent years.

Sonakshi Datta
Sonakshi Datta
Journalist who wants to cover the truth which others look the other way from.

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