Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Prime Minister Narendra Modi sporting lengyan, the traditional scarf (or stole) in Leirum Phee design of Manipur on several occasions, has increased its demand. Surbala Mayanjlambam, an artisan from Kakching district of Manipur, said, “There is custom in our state to present lengyan to prominent guests. Accordingly, our chief minister presented lengyan to Modi ji during his first visit to the state,” she said adding that chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was also welcomed with a lengyan during his recent visit to Manipur. Surbala is in the city to take part in ongoing State Handloom Expo 2022 at Bhopal Haat.
Surbala has set up a stall selling Manipuri handloom products at the expo. Lengyan has red, black and white borders. “However, Modi ji suggested that the red colour should be replaced with saffron. That was done,” she said, adding that it had now become a symbol of the BJP. “The demand for lengyan has shot through the roof,” she said. Lengyan is priced around Rs 400. However, Modi scarf is sold for Rs 900 a piece. Surbala belongs to Meiti tribe. In her village with a population of around 10,000, almost half of the people are engaged in making lengyan.
A postgraduate in economics, Surbala decided to establish a weaving unit in her village to preserve the traditional textile art of Manipur. Her unit, which started in 2017, now employs around 40 women weavers. “Initially, only my mother and I used to make traditional handloom products,” she said. Lucky, another artisan from Manipur, said lengyan had been awarded GI (Geographical Indicator) tag and after that, its sales have shot up by 60%. “Besides lengyan, there is a big demand for traditional shawls and cushion covers from Manipur. The products are exported to the US and Japan,” he said.
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