Your Story APARAJITA CHOUDHURY 12 FEBRUARY 2016

Will government support ensure that the Northeast’s startup star is on the rise?

 

When any discourse related to Northeast India takes place, the first image that envelops our minds is the scenic beauty of the seven sisters (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura) that comprise this far-flung region of our country. Regrettably, the lack of an appropriate ecosystem has restricted the region from showcasing its entrepreneurial spirit.

The time has come to unveil the buried potential of startups from the Northeast and give them the flexibility to compete with their peers in metro cities. In a major move to bring these startups into the mainstream, the centre has recently announced a “venture fund” to promote startups in India’s northeastern states.

 

Minister of State for Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER), Jitendra Singh has said that India is on the verge of becoming a world power on the basis of the strength of its youth, who comprise over 65 per cent of the population, and are the real torchbearers of the ‘Startup India’ mission. The fund is not only estimated to boost the startup ecosystem in the region, but also draw the attention of startups from across the states to set up base in the Northeast.

A report by the International Finance Corporation revealed that the Northeast has more than two lakh MSMEs, which accounts for less than three per cent of the country’s total MSMEs. And the region contributes 2.6 per cent of the country’s total GDP, a clear indicator that the entrepreneurial bug has bit the Northeast as well.

Here is a list of startups who have shown their potential, blazed a trail and emerged frontrunners in an already crowded startup ecosystem.

Arohan FoodGuwahati-based Arohan Food works with small-holdings pig farmers across Northeast India and retails pork products nationwide. Founded by Anabil Goswami, Arindom Hazarika and Ranapratap Brahma, formerly of Tata Chemicals, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and Bank of Baroda, respectively, this integrator aims to improve these farmers’ animal husbandry practices, and ensure the highest-quality farm pigs for sourcing. Omnivore Partners invested Rs 2 crore – 6 crore in Arohan Food in 2013.

TeaboxFounded in 2012 by Kaushal Dugar, Siliguri-based Teabox is a premium tea brand that focusses on vertical integration of sourcing, branding, and distributing teas. It sources the tea blends from Darjeeling, Assam, the Nilgiris, and Nepal and ships worldwide through its online platform. Kaushal Dugar is a KPMG consultant and an alumnus of Singapore Management University. Recently, Teabox raised $6 million in Series A funding from JAFCO and others. Earlier, it also raised funds from Ratan Tata.

 

GiskaaFounded in 2014 by Meghanath Singh, Giskaa is a Guwahati-based online marketplace exclusively for products manufactured in the Northeast. The site has close to 1,600 unique products, which are sourced from more than 100 suppliers and artisans. Meghanath has 13 years of experience in the IT industry in the pharmaceutical and publishing domains. The team of Giskaa has personally met artisans in the remotest villages and collected data on products, capacity, quality, marketability, and logistics. The website follows a marketplace model, of which 50 per cent is inventory led.

ElrhinoFounded by Nisha Bora, Guwahati-based Elrhino was started with the intention of using their resources to provide locals a viable livelihood, and save Assam’s 2,000 one-horned rhinoceroses. Before that, Nisha worked with Quantum as a market researcher. Elrhino produces and sells handcrafted stationery and packaging material made of recycled rhinoceros and elephant dung. It manages the entire dung paper production chain starting from collection, preparation, and processing to sale of finished dung paper goods.

Tamul PlatesFounded in 2010 by Arindam Das Gupta, Barpeta-based Tamul Plates focusses on generating rural livelihoods by producing and marketing biodegradable dinnerware. An alumnus of Delhi University, Arindam used to work for FODRA NGO. They also provide technical support and financial channels to rural areca (betel) nut producers. Tamul Plates produces and sells disposable plates, bowls and tableware made of from areca nut. It also produces dinnerware via a network of affiliates across the tribal regions of Northeast India.

WebX TechnologiesFounded in 2008 by Sanjeev Sarma, WebX is a Guwahati-based professional IT consulting company and provider of complete enterprise IT solutions, which involves planning, designing, developing, and maintaining IT Infrastructure, both onsite and remotely. Sanjeev started his career with ZAP Infotech as a software consultant. The company has three full-time directors heading three divisions – Software Services, IT Infrastructure Management Services, and IT Sales and Marketing. It offers a full range of IT services ranging from system analysis to solution implementation with high-quality technical support.

Assam Silk ShoppingFounded in 2013 by Daisy Rani Nath, Guwahati-based Assam Silk Shopping is an online marketplace, which deals with all types of Assam silk like mugaeri, and raw silk. It also allows users to buy golden silk, mulberry silk, handwoven traditional sarees, mekhela chadars, and Assamese jewellery from Barpeta and Nagoan districts. The company directly sources from its own production centre at Sualkuchi, Assam. Sualkuchi is a village known for craftsmanship. The company has also tied up with North East Handicrafts, which comprises craftsmen who work with bamboo and cane.

KraftinnFounded in 2010 by Parikshit Borkotoky, Jorhat-based Kraftinnhas a team of experts who select the right bamboo for harvest during the months of November and December. The harvested bamboo is stored till the moisture dries and is later stalked to meet production demands for a whole year. The products are exported to countries like Japan. The startup has also worked with companies like Himalaya Drugs and ONGC, providing them with corporate gifting options.

Udyan TeaFounded in 2013 by Pravesh Gupta, Siliguri-based Udyan tea provides high-quality, single estate tea to consumers. Pravesh used to work in Accenture, Singapore, as an IT consultant. Experts procure tea directly from select estates in Darjeeling, Assam, and Dooars, which is then vacuum-sealed. It also manufactures green tea bags, tins, and boxes in both regular and flavoured variants.

Fabric PlusFounded in 2003 by Dilip Barua, Guwahati-based Fabric Plus is a manufacturer of various types of Assam silk such as mugaeri and pat. It also offers silk products starting from cocoons, cocoon cakes, dressed fibres, tops, yarn, fabric, garments, and accessories.

Since the focus of the government, investors, and incubators has almost been negligible towards the Northeast, startups like Giskaa and Teabox have relocated to Bengaluru to get better visibility and enjoy a startup friendly environment. However, the new venture fund by the government comes as a boon for this fraternity, and will gradually put the region on the global map. We would love to see more startups, who are yet to come out of their shell and demonstrate their potential to the entire nation, join this list of their peers.

The Economic Times By Tasmayee Laha Roy Nov 26, 2016

Amid a whirlwind of retrospectives and tributes to ‘Make in India,’ the fashion circuit is evaluating the potential of indigenous silk portfolios. Bringing in a mix of old and new designs and textures, designers are experimenting with the aesthetics of regional silks across the country as they seek to strike a balance between the avant-garde and the traditional.

Indian silks are no longer restricted to the traditional nine yard saree – they are used in everything from dresses to tie ..
Not just that, regional silks are making a place for themselves on the global fashion radar. Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh are among the states that are unlocking the potential to make their indigenous silk speak for themselves. States in the northeast, known more for political conflicts and turmoil, are trying to showcase their artistic side. Pitching their handloom fabrics to top fashion fraternities in India and abroad, they are making all efforts to promote muga and eri silks.

Dilip Barooah, founder of Assam-based silk industrial unit Fabric Plus, has just completed a sampling order for muga silk fabrics with Hermès, the French high fashion luxury goods manufacturer.
“It is generally fabrics like Benarasi that are most talked about when it comes to silk. We are trying to break through that and get silks from the northeast on the international fashion radar,” said Barooah. “We are working with several international brands like Hugo Boss and Marella and Max Mara from Europe who are using our muga, eri and blended silks for their collections.” Fabric Plus and the Ministry of Textiles are working together to promote the indigenous fabric. A Rs10 crore project called ‘Rudrasagar Silks’ to be carried out in upper Assam has been assigned to Fabric Plus, which will use technology to produce local silk spun yarn and help weavers to make value-added products.

Barooah’s company has also taken up an Rs18 crore project from the ministry for readymade garments to promote locally made products and employ artisans from across the northeast.
While mekhela chadars – a traditional outfit worn by Assamese women made mostly of silk – and sarees are typically part of the collection of every designer from the northeast, some of them are innovating to catch up with the times. Dhiraj Deka, who has run retail fashion brand Bibhusaa for eight years in Assam, is taking muga and eri silks beyond the traditional mekhelas.

“We are making muga silk gowns, dresses, palazzos and shirts to suit existing global tastes,” said Deka, who uses social media for promotional purposes in Europe, Dubai, South Africa and America. Deka is in talks with the New York Couture Fashion Week 2017 to showcase his collection.
“We are making muga silk gowns, dresses, palazzos and shirts to suit existing global tastes,” said Deka, who uses social media for promotional purposes in Europe, Dubai, South Africa and America. Deka is in talks with the New York Couture Fashion Week 2017 to showcase his collection.

Designer Chinmoyee Pujari has latched on to the go-green trend with eri silk. “We are promoting the fabric for its thermal properties, which is known to be warm in winter and cold in summer and sampling the fabric with various players in Dubai, London and Australia,” said Pujari, who runs her own brand called Aadrika in Assam’s Jorhat.
While high street designers including Ritu Kumar have taken every initiative to bring to life the flamboyant Benarasi silk by pitching it at every fashion event through new collections, those like Neeru Kumar have taken up less-hyped silks such as ikat and tussar. Defining her collection as ‘contemporary classics,’ she says they are a blend of modern designs and traditional inputs.
“The skills that our ikat weavers have are unparalleled and we try to use them to their full potential to come up with fabrics that cannot be replicated in any part of the world. These products, however, are not for any random buyer. Ostentatious that they are, they are valued by those who have the taste for it alongside buying aesthetics,” said Neeru Kumar.

The founder of the Neeru Kumar label and ‘Tulsi’ stores concentrates on hand-woven and hand-spun silks like tussar and mulberry. According to her, Korean tussar, which had started taking over the market, is slowly being replaced by hand-woven and handspun variants that designers are endorsing.

Some retail giants have also taken to regional silks. Allen Solly, the brand owned by Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd., has tied up with the Pochampally Handloom Weavers’ Cooperative Society in Andhra Pradesh to introduce ikat silk in its men’s work wear collection. The society is widely known for its Pochampally ikat sarees.
Another master of the couture circuit, Gaurang Shah, is bringing to the table sarees from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat, known respectively for their Kanjivaram, Paithanis and Patan Patolas.
“Since all these fabrics take a long time to be spun, we do not believe in bulk order of finished goods. Close to 350 of my weavers work on each of these silk ranges and some sarees also end up taking a year and half to be completed, making the finished product as exotic and rich as it could get,” said Shah, who has outfitted celebrities Vidya Balan and Kirron Kher in his traditional silk nine yards.
Gujarat’s Kutch district has unsung heroes weaving and blending strands of silk into contemporary fashion and accessories. Using the extra warp weaving technique, they create wonders of wool and silk that are used by designers across the country and brands all over the world.
“We are using silk from Bhagalpur and combining it with locally produced wool to make everything from readymade garments to bed covers, carpets and throws,” said Shamji Vankar of Vankar Vishram Valji Weaving, a weaving and dyeing business in Bhujodi, a small town 8 km southeast of Bhuj. Bhujodi is a major textile centre in Kutch, where the Vankar weaving family has lived for several generations.
Livingston Studios and The Cloth in London and Maiwa in Canada are regulars with the Vankars. Along with other clients in the US and Europe, they take fabrics from the Vankars for their collection. The products cost between Rs2,500 and Rs25,000, which some consider under-priced for their sheer quality and artistry.
Down south, too, there are initiatives to bring regional weaves to the forefront. The Andhra Pradesh Cooperative Society of Handloom Weavers is making promotion and sales easier for the weavers, who have little access to the market and buyers. “We are providing a marketing platform for close to 5,000 weavers,” said Jagdeeswara Rao, marketing officer at APCO. Following the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the Telangana State Cooperative Society of Handloom Weavers is being formed for the new state, he said.

 

Although Bangladesh has taken the lead and registered jamdani as its first Geographical Indication (GI) product earlier this month, back in West Bengal, industry veterans and neophytes are reviving this ancient tradition. Jamdanis, the finest variety of muslin, are coming back to life on the tables of Agnimitra Paul and other designers with state initiatives like Biswa Bangla, a brainchild of chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Valued for their handwork and rich quality, jamdanis are priced between Rs 5,000 and Rs 2 lakh.
 

Assam silk can capture international markets GUWAHATI, Nov 5, Assam Tribune

Assam silk has tremendous potential to make inroads into national and international markets, stated foreign and national experts at the Guwahati Press Club here today.

Dr Ole Zethner and Rie Koustrup from Denmark, who have jointly edited a book titled South Asian Ways of Silk, to which 12 writers and experts from India and abroad have contributed, said Assam silk has tremendous potential to become a major raw material for world class products.

Dr Ole Zethner is an entomologist, while Rie Koustrup is a language teacher. Their book, published by the city-based firm, Book Bell, will be released at a function at the Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal, shortly.

They expressed the hope that eri would become a much sought-after item for manufacturing soft-cloth apparels, particularly for babies. It has also the potential to become a popular bed linen in cold-weather countries, they said.

On muga, they said that there should be a serious campaign to save this exotic silk unique to Assam. Campaigns like conservation initiatives launched to protect the tiger and the one-horned rhino, should be launched in this regard.

Bodoland Regional Apex Federation (BRAFED) Managing Director Rana Patgiri called for overcoming the challenges posed by multinational contenders, like Wal-Mart, Marks & Spencer, IKEA, etc., to maintain the indigenous silk industry as a vibrant entity.

The Deputy Director of the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology, OP Kotnala praised the exotic nature of the indigenous fabric designs of the NE region and said that they have the potential to occupy the markets in developed countries.

Dhiraj Thakuria, Managing Director, Purbashree, suggested a methodical approach towards developing the indigenous silk industry of the NE region so that it can show a significant improvement in quality and become popular in foreign markets, where buyers are very sensitive.

Dilip Barooah of the city-based silk industrial unit, Fabric Plus, who has also contributed to the book edited by Dr Ole Zethner and Rie Koustrup, stressed the need of a collective move to expand the scope of the NE silk industry so that it can go for product diversification and make successful inroads into national and international markets.

The Weekend Leader, by KavitaKanan Chandra, Mumbai

 

Caption – At Fabric Plus, workers are appreciated for what they do and not given designations for their jobs

 

G Thakuria lost a decade in his life. He will not tell you what he was up to and it is anybody’s guess, given the fact that he is in Assam’s Chhaygaon, which was once a hotbed of insurgency. But today, Thakuria has found his calling – at the Fabric Plus factory. Chhaygaon, 70 km away from Guwahati, has transformed over the years with the Assam Government developing it as an industrial growth centre.
Fabric Plus, on its part, has touched the lives of many like Thakuria. Founded by DilipBarooah, who was the first to cash in on the changing scenario, the industrial unit is a symbol of the new emerging industrial Assam.
One day he chucked them all, even leaving behind the wealth he earned due to some legal tangle and was back in Mumbai. However he had 27 years of textile experience, contacts and lot of goodwill. “I was back to square one. From driving BMW to riding Bus Number  11,” says Barooah philosophically. But there was a burning desire to establish a company that deals with weaving and exporting of pure silk products made of exquisite Eri, Muga and Mulberry/Pat silk exclusive to the Northeast.
It was a passion for Assam silk, the immense potential it had offshore by value addition and innovation that has seen Fabric Plus catering to fashion giants like Armani, Hugo Boss, Just Cavalli, Chopard and Moschino among other brands.
Barooah started from scratch in 2003 in a 100 sqft garage space with three members and almost zero investment. They started with R & D and sampling of pure silk product and soon became a registered silk exporting company.  Within a year their turnover was Rs 14 lakh and there has been no turning back since then. The projected turnover in 2010 is Rs 700 lakh, almost double of the previous year’s.
As a social entrepreneur for Chhaygaon,  Barooah has helped the region’s growth. The Eri silk spinning mill alone has impacted the lives of 350 spinners and weavers and benefitted 4500 people engaged in silk/cocoon rearing and marketing. “Just two years ago there was absolutely nothing in this region, no source of income for the educated youths but with the Fabric Plus project an industrial atmosphere is building up,” says TrailokyaBurman, a team member at Fabric Plus.
Burman echoes Barooah’s dislike for titles and designations that stem from the exploitation and everyday human rights violation he saw in the Mumbai mills as a young manager.  “We are all part of a family, everyone cooperates and there is no designation whatsoever,” says G Thakuria. Adds Barooah:  “The workers were paid peanuts, worked in unhygienic conditions, forced to do overtime and when I was the general manager my work was not to run the textile mill but find ways to retrench labour.” This pained him and he vowed to treat his workers as team members with due respect and dignity. He practises what he preaches and his visiting card is sans any designation. He feels a sense of déjà vu reading Robin Sharma’s international best seller ‘The Leader Who Had No Title’ for it echoes his thoughts in many ways.
“Once the people who feared bombs now see their women folk cycling to work, changing their lifestyle and heralding betterment in economy, health and work ethics,” says Barooah. Apart from Chhaygaon, Fabric Plus also has factories at Amingaon (Assam), Dhatrigram (West Bengal) and a unit for hand spinning of Eri silk yarns at Mirza (Assam).

 

Hailing from the non-descript town of Margarita at the tip of Assam, bordering Myanmar and Arunachal, Barooah studied textile technology in Guwahati. He joined a textile mills in Mumbai as a manager in the early eighties. He rose to the level of General Manager and became the highest paid technician in the metropolis. Later, he shifted to Germany and South Africa, enjoyed the high life, what with a six-figure monthly salary, a bungalow with swimming pool and a BMW to boot.

The Telegraph – Textile firm targets 50000 jobs

Dilip Barooah at his office-cum-showroom in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos

 

Guwahati, Jan. 21: A Guwahati-based manufacturer of Assam silk is eyeing creation of at least 50,000 jobs in rural Northeast in the next five years.

Fabric Plus, a textile firm having 500 employees and 46,000 people indirectly associated with it, intends to create the jobs by associating with communities in the region and promoting Assam silk among them.

“We are promoting eri silk in Mizoram and Nagaland where we provide not just mentoring on entrepreneurship but also supply equipment. In Nagaland, we have associated with three groups. Besides, we are also doing the same in Meghalaya, Manipur and Sikkim. In Arunachal Pradesh, we have tied up with the sericulture department to revive old designs,” DilipBarooah, managing director of Fabric Plus Pvt. Ltd, told The Telegraph today.

The business model of the textile firm is rooted to tradition and creation of livelihoods by harnessing culture and technology. “We sustain our model on five Fs – farm, fibre, fabric, fashion and foreign. Then again technology induction among the weavers is a priority,” Barooah said.

“We are looking at creation of one lakh jobs by 2019. Women empowerment is a priority area, which we are working on in association with the Netherlands-based Women on Wings. Fifty-five per cent of our direct employees are women,” he said.

The firm started operations from Mumbai in 2003 and shifted its base to Guwahati in 2006, with a factory each at Amingaon set up in 2007 on the outskirts of the city and Chaygaon commissioned in 2009, about 46km from here. Fabric Plus also has an office in Calcutta.

The firm today shifted to a new office-cum-showroom in the Jonali area here.

“Currently, we are a Rs 23-crore turnover firm and export to as many as 23 countries, including China. But our focus is on the domestic market, which comprises about 80 per cent of our supply,” the textile technocrat said.

The company’s average sales have grown by 900 per cent over the past 11 years. Currently, it has 16 retail outlets across the region. “We are also working on a franchise model of operation,” Barooah said.

Since last year, the firm has switched focus to high-end brands, considering its demand overseas. “As it is Fabric Plus is an established brand by now. Now we look to appeal to both global and domestic markets with high-end brands such as Ereena, an eri silk brand launched last year,” he said.

The firm plans to come out with another high-end brand, Yes-North-East, shortly. “This brand (Yes-North-East) is about uniting a workforce comprising communities of the region. It is about diverse textiles, handlooms, cane and bamboo and organic food of all the northeastern states,” Barooah said.

Assam Times By Dilip Barooah | Saturday, May 1, 2010

 

Dubai, April 17: The Assamese Community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) celebrated RongaliBihu on 16th April last, with traditional fervor and gaiety.

This year a record of over 250 people gathered at the Metropolitan Palace Hotel Dubai for a cultural evening featuring popular guest artistes from Assam as well as local pool of talents from UAE. The guest artistes to have graced the occasion coming all the way from Assam were JayantaNath, MonishaBordoloi, PrijyaHazarika and Prayashi Bora.

The Chief Guest for the Program was Mr. Sanjay Verma, the newly joined Consul General of India based in Dubai. The Consul General accompanied by his wife MrsSangitaVerma, congratulated the organizers for the excellent display of traditional Assamese attires, food items as well the rich cultural heritage of the State. Senior Dubai resident AswiniBorkotoky, welcomed the gathering on behalf of the organizers, Assam Society, UAE. The guests were felicitated with the traditional gamosa and souvenirs.

One of the star attractions of the grand evening was noted Assamese Singer, dancer and musician, Mrs. MonishaBordoloi, who enthralled the audience with new songs as well as popular songs from yesteryears including lilting Bihu songs.

Another star attraction of the program was the guest artiste JayantaNath from Jorhat. JayantaNath, a singer, composer and music director, entertained the audience in his inimitable style with a variety of Assamese and folk songs, with the audience literally dancing to his tunes. This is the second time, after his performance in Dubai in 2006, that Sri Nath appeared in the Bihu Celebrations of the Society. Sri Nath also inaugurated his new music album entitled ‘Manabata’ in the same program.The duo of JayantaNath and MonishaBordoloi also put up an impressive joint performance which took the show well past midnight to the joy of those present. They were supported by ParthaGoswami, SumonBordoloi and ArindamBaruah in background scores.

Instrumental Numbers by Prayashi Bora, Guwahati The cultural function got off to an early start with ‘Okonir Mel’ where the tiny‐tots had the opportunity to display their talents in different areas. All the young participants received gifts in order to encourage participation in future events and also carry on the tradition of Assamese Culture. Children were also given away prizes for participating in the Drawing Competition organized in Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the eve of the Bihu celebrations. Mr. AmiruddinAjmal, head of Dubai and Assam based Ajmal Perfumes Group, distributed the prizes.One of the highlights of the program was the very lively Hussori performance. The hussori troupe was led by ParthaPratimGoswami and supported by SumonBordoloi, DayanandaGogoi, BibhutiBrata Sharma, Sandeep Bhagowati, DipakTumung, IswarPrasanna Das, TandeepBhagowati, Shyamoli Pathak Bora, Dimple Bhagowati, SumanaBhuyan and SumanKhaundBaruah.

A chorus, ‘SrimoyiAxomorXitolbukut’, was performed by SumonKhoundBarua, SangitaBhagowati, SumanaBhuyan, Dimple Bhagowati, Mommy Dowerah, DayanandaGogoi, SumonBordoloi, DipakTumung, Arman Hazorika, Sandeep Bhagowati with the accompaniment of background music by ParthaGoswami, ArindamBaruah and Shyamoli Pathak Bora.The program was ably compeered by Abidul Islam (Abu Dhabi) and Syed Faruk Ahmed (Dubai) – both first timers for such an event in UAE. The memorable moments of the Bihu celebrations were captured in her lens by IpsitaBarua with a professional touch.The 5th edition of ProbaxiBihuwan, the souvenir of Assam Society (UAE), Dubai was unveiled by Mr. Sanjay Verma, the honourable Consul General of India, the same evening.

The eventful evening also witnessed the formal launch of the new look website of the Society at www.assamuae.org . Also launched was the new logo of Assam Society, UAE – designed by Mrs. SumanaBhuyan.The dinner organized at the hotel premises had Assamese flavor too – with helpings of Rou Fish Fry and Kawoi Fish curry.This is the 12th year that the Assam Society, Dubai, has organized this event, having started off way back in 1999 with a two day outdoor programme at the Bin Majid Beach Resort in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

This year saw a surge in Sponsors for the program with some sponsors even from far away Assam. The sponsors were Petrochem, Ajmal Perfumes, Al Khaleej Sugar, AbharanJewellery, Al Dowobi, Avon Division of Al Hathboor Group, Bank of Baroda, Barbeque Delight, Carlease, Citibank, Colgate Total, Holcim Trading FZCO, Home Centre, IORA (Kaziranga), Life Insurance Corporation, MotiMahal Restaurant, Paras Pharma FZE, Premier Enterprises (Guwahati0, Samsung Gulf, Stargate, Al Murshidi Perfumes, Tumung Property Consultants (Guwahati), Jaffrey Zaman, UAE Exchange and Zee TV Network.

For the first time for a Bihu Celebrations, several competitions were organized this year – including ‘Sriman‐Srimoyee’ Contest – best attired male and female from among the audience, Food Mela – a competition to recognize best ethnic food/ snack preparations, Okonir Mel – to spot and encourage young talents from among the community. Food Mela saw a huge response from several expert cooks who prepared authentic and delicious Bihuspecialities…the young generation participated actively in Okonir Mel and the Painting Competition…a handful of secret judges selected Sriman and Srimoyee 2010. 1st and 2nd prize winners in male category were TonmoyBarooah and Rajesh Goswami respectively, whereas in the female category Yasmin Hazarika was the winner and DeepikaKataky was the runners’up.Also on display on the venue were traditional dresses brought all the way from Assam – courtesy Fabric Plus, Guwahati and handcrafted dresses by MrsPhunu Dutta of Abu Dhabi.The event was organized successfully with a host of active members from Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi ably led by AnupalPhookan.

INDIA’S HERITAGE – THE HANDLOOM INDUSTRY

Our identity lies in the womb of our rich, golden heritage. Textiles, jewellery, food, crafts, sports and oral traditions are all weaved into the golden tapestry of our culture – the ‘Indian’ culture.

Grandmother’s special aam ka achar with its irresistible aroma; mom’s besan ke ladoos made with ingredients in unmeasured palm moulds that taste heavenly, the traditional style of adorning the saree by mother in law with sequined clutches and a bun held by an ornamented comb.

Traditions, especially when passed from one generation to the other, become very special for us.

The tradition of handloom weaving in India goes back to ancient times. It comprises of the largest cottage industry of the country. Millions of looms across the country are engaged in weaving cotton, silk and other natural fibers. There is hardly a village where weavers do not exist, each weaving out the traditional beauty of India’s own precious heritage.

The NorthEastern region of India in general and the state of Assam in particular has a rich tradition of handloom weaving descending down from generation to generation. The inter-mingling of various ethnic stocks in Assam, both tribal and non-tribal has formed a synthesized culture in the state. These ethnic groups having diverse socio-cutural background have contributed immensely towards the glory of textile tradition of Assam as a whole.

 

Popular for the handloom culture, Assam is the home to Eri silk – a vegan silk also known as Ahimsa Silk because of its non-violent practice of extracting silk and Muga Silk – the golden silk which outlives its owner and is exclusive to the state.  The traditional hand woven fabrics woven out of Silk are widely known for their beauty and simplicity.

This socio-cultural heritage of India is however starting to fade away in today’s modern and fast space. The gratification of urgent and easily available resources are slowly killing the handloom industry.  No doubt, it is a slow process but it is a beautiful one. Each handloom product speaks of hundreds of stories behind the creation of it. The imperfections, the rough finishing and the delicacies make it all the more personal and special.  We owe to sustain the treasure of these handloom art for our upcoming generations.

On this National Handloom Day, let’s pledge to revive India’s dying handloom arts and crafts and sustain and glorify the existing ones.

Lets celebrate “Handmade with love”.