The fields are full of cotton blooms and look like a white sea, i was awoken by my brother, “Didi see papa is taking us to heaven!” amused and angry i looked around, i saw there was a white expanse to the horizon. Open mouthed and speechless I too started wondering if my younger brother was right-well papa’s are always the strongest!! Well our father jammed in brakes and we got out to take pictures and after exclamations of ‘Wow’, ‘Where are we?’ We were told we were in the cotton belt of Andhra Pradesh. The country produces he said 12.1 million tonnes of cotton a year and the states which are the main players are Maharashtra, Andhra pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab. We were like sponges absorbing all that are father was saying but again my brother piped up, Agni, our maid is a bengali and she wears cotton sarees where does she get them. To shut him up i said, “Stupid don’t you remember Raju bhaiya who comes to sell saree in a bundle for her.” At this reference it was mother’s turn to describe how we have to pamper them but what she did not say here was she bought a couple for herself!
West Bengal is more of a rice and jute producer than cotton. They had a presence till ’69 since then there has been a decline but they say the government is reviving the cotton production. But that’s for the politicians to decide. I was now interested and i could not for the life of me understand why would anyone destroy this beautiful scenery to make clothes! Reading my thoughts, my father led me to the shade under a tree and said that the wheel started man’s quest of life and all development started after that. The charkha was another invention which encouraged small scale industry and self reliance.
In the Punjab girls had to know how to make phulkaries and thick cotton sheets. In Assam, women make mekla’s and shawls as part of their tradition. Cotton has been the mainstay of our life as it can be used in the summers as well in the winters of course not the harsh months of December and January.
Bengali love their sarees and rasogulla. ‘I love both’, mummy interrupted returning after a jesty and enjoyable time collecting cotton pods to fill a pillow! with my brother. I was now very interested and irritated at the interlude. Father continued, he said that the looms are the tools with which the threads are put lengthwise and breadth wise to create a saree. I was now fascinated. Like if i had to draw i would need a pencil likewise i need yarn which has been processed and colored, gold or silver for the pallu and border to make it look grand or if i don’t want a fancy saree i would weave it only with cotton fibre and if I wanted a silk saree for a wedding in the winter then only silk yarn will be used and we also have cotton and silk option or sico saree which is easier to drape. The bengali saree which are also known as tant sarees are exclusively made in West Bengal, Murshidabad is a big producer of these sarees . The local weavers put motifs which are all woven into the saree according to a scale of weft and warp.The way the warp and filling yarns interlace with each other is called the weave.
The majority of woven products are created with one of three basic weaves: plain weave, satin weave or twilling. Woven cloth can be plain (in one colour or a simple pattern), or can be woven in decorative or artistic design and the design progresses. Sometimes the pallu is done separately with superb inter-locking.
The handloom weaving is done mostly by men because it is strenuous work. Generally the whole family pitches in to help.
We also have power looms but that is a another story. The tant saree today is also embroidered and could be painted too, so the tastes have changed. The bengal tant saree is very popular all over India. They are light, the fabric is soft and cool. The ultimate choice in the hot summer month. At this mummy jumped at the opportunity,” So, when are you getting me one?” This time it was official!
Shatika has an alluring range of Bengal tant sarees. The only saree which can boast of such a range to suit all pockets.