Hundreds of women draped in colourful Indian weaves are getting ready for a first-ever Saree Walkathon, to take place on August 6 – a day before India’s annual National Handloom Day.
Representing different states of India, the women organised by the British Women in Sarees group along with Inspiring Indian Women (IIW) will kick things off at Trafalgar Square and make their way past historic landmarks of central London to end their walkathon at the Mahatma Gandhi statue at Parliament Square in London.
Dr Dipti Jain of British Women in Sarees group said: “The modern Indian woman of today believes in traversing the world beyond her cocoon and she does all that and more, in a saree while redefining the codes of power dressing.
“The British Women in Sarees group was formed out of this idea. It is a group of empowered women who take pride in flaunting handloom sarees and representing the unique cultural melting pot that is India.
“It is a not-for-profit organisation which likes to organise events to promote our national heritage and make everyone around the world aware of the toil, handwork and artistry which goes behind weaving each of these masterpieces.”
The motivation is to use the saree as a means of providing support to the ones who most need it. Proceeds from an event held during the Royal Ascot in June last year went towards a Kantha weaving artist residing in Nanoor village of West Bengal.
“As we grow bigger, we intend to reach out, grow and connect with more artisans and weavers who need support. This will be our way of preserving ancient handicrafts,” shared Dr Jain.
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For the walkathon next weekend, a team from Kerala is being coordinated by Dr Deepa Hegde, Dr Hema Santhosh and Shirley Gibson to showcase the state’s tradition Settu Mundu handloom and sarees bought directly from the weavers.
Dr Santhosh said: “As ambassadors of this movement, we feel grateful that we have gained immense success with our early efforts in bringing the limelight for the artists and weavers and put their wearable art on a pedestal where everyone is curious to know more about them. But we intend to achieve more.
“We intend to identify handlooms clusters in India, in need of help and lend them our support. We intend to raise awareness among all about our handlooms, their history and the art behind it. This peaceful Saree Walkathon of ours is another initiative to make this possible.”
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*Info: National Handloom Day