Ashoknagar (Madhya Pradesh): It is a village that has 243 weavers’ houses. Located 4 kilometres from Chanderi in Ashoknagar district, Pranpur produces famed Chanderi sarees and other garments. The walls of many housed are decorated with colourful paintings.
Some of the weavers’ houses in the village are 300 years old where their ancestors weaved Chanderi sarees for centuries. Now, Pranpur has another reason to be proud of. It has been selected by the Union Textiles Ministry for development as India’s first Craft Handloom Tourism Village.
The project, being implemented by the ministry and Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department, aims to turn every house as a production-cum-sale centre of Chanderi sarees.
“The idea is that tourists will visit houses, see how Chanderi sarees are made and buy them directly from weavers,” said Nagendra Mehta, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board (MPTB) official.
A Handloom Café has also been planned in the village where Bundelkhandi dishes will be served, he said. All that is supposed to change lives of weavers. But at present, they have nothing to be happy about.
The village with a population of 5,000 has at least 2,000 weavers. Most of them work on a piece rate basis for the businessmen living in Chanderi or other places around.
And their wages are poor. Kamla Kori (42) said film stars Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor had visited her house in 2009 as part of the promotion of their film 3 Idiots. “They had food with us and even took lessons in weaving,” she said. Her husband Kamlesh was alive then.
He succumbed to Covid-19 three years back. Since then, Kamla is managing the household and bringing up their four children. This is not easy as she is paid small amounts for the work. Masarrat Bano who has studied till Class 9 has been weaving and stitching Chanderi clothes for 12 years.
“I am doing this work when I shifted here after marriage,” she says. She is paid Rs 800 for producing one salwar-suit. “It takes about three days to make one,” she said. Most weavers are men but their income is insufficient, which force women to roll bidis.
Aslam Khan, 50, says that making a plain saree takes two days and those with designs, longer. The weavers, however, are hopeful that once tourists begin visiting their village, they would become entrepreneurs. “Whether our wish is fulfilled, only time will tell,” he remarked.