The weavers at Narayanapuram, churn colorful Bobbili sarees from their handloom. Here is the story of a family of weavers.
Thirty minutes away from Bobbili lies the village of Narayanapuram, where many a home are seen with bright colored threads strung on traditional handlooms. As cotton saris in multi-colored hues shine from many verandahs, we reach the home of Appa Rao and his family, who are part of a community of approximately 300 weavers. With his son Adinarayana looking after weaving and distribution, and his wife also helping with work, he shares that life for weavers here isn’t an easy one. Narayanapuram has approximately 50 maggams (looms), which are used in rotation. With their handloom dedicated to preparing Bobbili saris, their customers comprise of the sahukars of Bobbili. Appa Rao, shares that the weavers here don’t go through the society, which isn’t functional anymore, but sell their produce directly to the businessmen in Bobbili. On an average, eight saris are prepared per week, with the money and threads provided by Bobbili saahukars. The Bobbili saris they make are however famed for their softness and low cost. People from the older generations recollect how they would cost as less as Rs. 10 in the ‘60s. The soft cottons though not as inexpensive anymore, are still economically priced at Rs.450/- to Rs. 600/- on an average.
With the future of Narayanapuram weaving being bleak, it goes without saying that very few members of the next generation are taking up this work. “Most of the people who work on the looms are in the 50-60 years age bracket”, shares Appa Rao. As for the young generation, job opportunities in places like Vizag and other big cities are much more lucrative and many aren’t pursuing this form of trade.
Support from the government is what weavers from Narayanapuram require, to be able to revive their fascinating art of weaving. As they currently work on making saris in the 100 count, they hope that the future will be a better place, where the government will support them through initiatives and threads, and the work they do would fetch better prices.