Contemporary entrepreneurs and designers making ancient Khadi a new era trend
Khoddor or Khadi, Comilla's traditional handloom cloth, is drawing a good number of shoppers this year for its historic value, versatile fabric and weather friendly properties.
Comilla is well reputed for its Khadi, and it has a long history. Marco Polo had commented on the fineness of the Khadi of Bengal, saying that it is finer than a spider's web. A hand-spun and hand-woven fabric, the Khadi is also very popular in the international market too. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a heavy promoter of the fabric, using it as a component to make India self-reliant.
Local weavers said an original piece of Khadi cloth is primarily woven from Hemp and may also include silk, or wool, which are all spun into yarn on a spinning wheel called 'charkha.'
A mixture of finely cut hand and machine made threads of khadi silk and cotton silk is used to make a perfectly textured Khadi . It is then transformed into something distinguishable by inputting various designs.
Khadi is on demand all year round but the high humidity of summer and upcoming festival of Eid-ul-Fitre created a high demand of Khadi in the market, vendors said.
In past Comilla's Khadi was popular among the struggling and poor for its economic cost and comfortability. But with time Khadi became a fashion statement of Bengali tradition and a desired choice of clothing.
Initially Khadi was made in two ways -- the white Khadi for men and colourful Khadi for women. Both materials were distinguished by three brownish stripes. But over the last ten years, entrepreneurs have been making notable changes and now they can reach out to the youngsters with new ideas.
Customers are favouring Khadi for any festivity, so the market is growing day by day.
Proprietor of Khadi Joshna Store, Tapan Pal said: " We sell khadi all year round. This year the demand has increased. Khadi attires for men are priced from 500 to 1000, women attires 500 to 2500 and home-tex are from 600 to 4000."
Some shoppers said they prefer Khadi because of its comfort and low price. Machine-made designs are making Khadi rich in fashionability and style. Consumers from this generation also prefer Khadi over other westernised clothes.
As the festival of Eid isfast approaching, the crowd of buyers are hauling from the street markets to big shopping complexes. Shoppers from upazila to cities all are at the same urge of making their family happy by getting the best product possible.
People from upper and middle-class are checking all the stores of Sattar Khan Complex, Khandakar Haque Tower, Moynamati Golden Tower, Eastern Yakub Plaza, Chowroungi Shopping Complex and Town Hall Super Market. Lower class consumers are cramming the street markets of Shashongacha Railway Overpass, Kandirpaar, Manaharpur, Rajganj, Ramghat and New Market Underground.
Contemporary Khadi designes are making its way through the market but the appeal of traditional Khadi panjabis are still in its old magnificence.
New shops and stores are opening up daily to meet the increasing demands of people.
Khadi is a must collectible for visitors from other districts too. It became a practice of gifting traditional Khadi in every get together and festivities.
Ancient Khadi making its way on to this new era with a taste of aristocracy and prominence.
Shoppers from Brahmanbaria, SM Siraj and Mijanur Rahman said: "Khadi is perfect for all seasons. The affordability and comfortability of Khadi makes it alluring to all. Whenever we come to Comilla we take away Khadi made clothes for our families."
Proprietor of Grameen Khaddar Vandar of Debidar said: " We are weaving Khadi as a family tradition. The increased prices of raw materials making it costlier for us but the increased demand is creating a balance."