Balucharis are famous traditional saris of Bengal. They were originally worn by women of the rich and powerful families. Now they have become a must-have for every Bengali bride. The skill of making Baluchari saris is usually passed on from generation to generation, by skilled handloom workers.
The centre of the Baluchari industry now is Bankura district. The name comes from Baluchar village in Murshidabad district. Now they are mostly woven in Bishnupur, Sonamukhi and Panchmura in Bankura district in rich silk. Mythological tales are usually depicted on the border (pallu), created through an intricate and detailed process.
A global brand
These saris have a huge potential for sales outside the state and also the country, to the countless Bengalis and non-Bengalis who live abroad. Now the state government is especially eager to market these saris, which have a lot of potential. Higher sales would also mean good earnings for the makers, most of whom are poor.
The state government recently created the Biswa Bangla Brand to bring all traditional crafts under one umbrella, in order to increase the opportunity for marketing state handicrafts.
Baluchari in Africa
A welcome surprise came recently when the wife of the president of Trinidad and Tobago, Rima Carmona, in faraway South America, on the Caribbean coast, was seen wearing a Baluchari during Diwali celebrations there. She is of Indian descent and so was especially attracted by the sari.
The story of how she got to know about the Baluchari is interesting. A few Italian tourists had bought Baluchari saris, manufactured by weavers in Bishnupur, from an NGO in West Bengal called Freed, when they had gone there for a visit. The president’s wife happened to be in Italy, and during a chance interaction with the tourists, she was shown the saris, being of Indian descent. She immediately liked them and got two for herself.
She liked them so much that later she contacted the NGO and inquired whether they can be exported from the state. The weavers of Bishnupur and the NGO are naturally ecstatic about the sudden opening up of this golden opportunity for exporting Baluchari saris.
This incident has opened up a new avenue for exporting the saris to people of Indian descent, of whom there are numerous, in the Caribbean, as well as in other places.
Waoww... good to know of the global interests in our traditional fabric.
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