Odisha's Textile Artisans Weaving Hope Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

I visited Sarakhpatna village where these artisans reside and spoke to them about the challenges that they face.

My Report
2 min read

Video Producer: Varsha Rani

Video editor: Subroto Adhikari

We saw how the pandemic affected the daily lives of individuals as well as small businesses. Odisha's heritage textile work is also one of them.

The pandemic resulted in subdued demands and decreased exports. As the moneylenders, or the exporters couldn’t come to the village or the artisans couldn’t go out. This has left very little hope for the people involved in the textile work.

I visited Sarakhpatna village in Odisha where these artisans reside and spoke to them about the challenges that came with the pandemic.

"The loss that we went through during the first-two waves of COVID, we’re still not able to make up for it. It was financially taxing for us. We couldn’t even afford to send our kids to school or manage our day-to-day expenses."
Laxman Kumar Nayak

He further told me that the artisans there get paid depending on how many sarees they make. Their entire family gets involved in this and then they are able to finish one saree. It takes them around 8 days to work on the machine.

"Then we get paid on the basis of the designs we work on. This period of 8-15 days is difficult for us and our family to survive," Nayak added.


Artisans Try to Preserve Their Struggling Industry

These artisans have been doing this work for decades and this is their only way of income. Many artisans expressed their concern regarding the third wave. They think they wouldn't be able to make it as many of them are still dealing with the financial loss they went through in the first-two waves.

"I’ve been in this business for the last 50 years. Since childhood, I’ve been involved in this work. We are in a lot of distress because of the third wave. We’re being careful but our trade will be in a huge problem in the coming days. Our work includes making sarees and we don’t think we’ll be able to send them to as many markets as we should."
Benudhar Behara

Even after a huge loss in the pandemic, the artists are still dedicated towards their work and are trying their best to make ends meet.

"We make these sarees and they help us survive. Our business is going through a rough phase and because of that, we have started to sell these sarees at any price. We are not making any profits. This is our traditional and cultural work, we cannot give this up. To protect it, we are ready to work at any cost.
Jaanki Nayak, Artisan

They urge the government to offer help to them because their culture or craft won't survive otherwise.

(The citizen journalist is an environmentalist. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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