Guest Author - Nandini Tirumala
Khadi Kurtha is an upper garment used by both men and women in India.Khadi is a type of fabric which is hand woven in rural India by weavers, who handpick cotton and then spin it into yarns and ultimately into yards of fabric. Khadi can also be woven with silk and wool.
A simple khadi kurtha which comes in white, yellow, beige or brown colors can be worn for everyday use, religious gatherings, work or political meetings. A silk and ornate kurtha can add elegance at special events, weddings and celebrations. The interesting thing about the kurtha is that it can be worn with pants, jeans, skirts and pajamas and by people of all ages and gender. It is easy to wash, is airy and helps you beat the humidity and sweat, making it a popular choice for people living in India and foreign tourists visiting India. Some people use starch on the kurtha for a neat and stiff look. People with sensitive skin find it comfortable over synthetic fibers.
Innovative ideas such as adding more contemporary, bright colors and prints are making khadi kurtha popular among different groups of people. Madhubhani painting prints from Bihar and Kalamkari art from Andhra Pradesh are examples of creative ways to work with Khadi.
Khadi, is more than a fabric or fashion for people of India. It has historic connections with India’s freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi (Father of our Nation), promoted self-reliance among people of India to weave their own clothes with a charaka ( spinning wheel) and hence boycott clothes sold by the British, who colonized India. This action and initiative developed patriotic feelings among Indians and confidence to fight for India’s freedom. People in rural India,spun Khadi clothes in large numbers for people of all ages that it generated self-employment and additional income for families. India’s National Flag is made of Khadi to invoke the national spirit and self-reliance in people of India.
Even today, Khadi kurtha is popular among national leaders, musicians, teachers,priests and average citizens who show their support to the village industries of India. Khadi is gaining universal appeal due to its environmentally friendly (does not use electricity, gas or chemicals)production processes and its versatility.
Apart from kurthas, products such as bedsheets, rugs, saris, dhotis, shirts, curtains and wall hangings are made using khadi and are promoted by different government and private businesses. A visit to one of the numerous stores in India, Khadi Bhandar or Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan, opens up to other kinds of handmade, green and organic products such as soaps, handicrafts, mats, pottery and jewellery made by India’s rural artisans.
An interesting fact is that women make up for more than half of those employed in this industry as weavers.