Field Trip Diaries — Rajasthan’s Waning Interest In Weaving And An Organisation From Pokhran…

August 31, 2016
By Rang De Team

Beautiful handmade products made by the weavers of Urmul

Pokhran.

A remote location in the Thar Desert region. The test site for India’s first underground nuclear weapon detonation.

It is also home to Urmul Marusthali Bunker Vikas Samiti, a non-government organisation of weavers, and a Rang De Impact partner. Established and managed by local weavers, Urmul provides livelihood and marketing support to traditional pit loom weavers.

We visited two villages where Urmul works — Thaat and Gomat — and met nine weavers.

“Weaving is in our blood and even kids as young as 10 can weave,” they told us.

Even though the love for weaving is alive in their hearts, the number of weavers has reduced considerably. People now prefer to take up other sources of livelihood where they do not have to sit at one place for hours.

Twenty years ago, there were 200 working looms in this area and now there are only 15 left.

You can see pit looms in almost every house but few use it anymore.

Almost all the weavers at Urmul have land but they cannot be used for agriculture. The ground water in Pokhran leaves a layer of salt on the ground making it unfit for use. Since they also rear cattle, they sometimes grow fodder on this ground.

With your help, we raised Rs 10 lakhs for the weavers of Urmul impacting 60 weavers at one time.

A weaver at work on a pit loom in the Urmul campus

While 15 weavers work on the campus, the other 45 work from their homes.

Provided with the required raw material by the organisation, Urmul also looks after transport costs and pays the weavers wages in return for their labour. Wages are based on performance as well giving them both a source of income stability while also giving them a chance to grow their incomes so to keep up with rising costs.

The organisation has its own unit for washing and dyeing yarns so the only raw material they need to invest in is plain yarn which they purchase from Delhi.

Urmul weaves only cotton products and does not use silk at all. Two types of cotton yarn are used — cotton with a 220 thread count and one with a 250 thread count. Every month, 5–6 quintals of yarn are used by this weaving organisation.

Readymade garments for sale at Urmul campus

Exhibitions are the main source of income for Urmul. They travel to various exhibitions and showcase their products. They earn an average of Rs 5–6 lakhs from each exhibition. Apart from exhibitions, Urmul has well known customers like Trident from New Zealand and Fab India.

They also have their own showroom on the campus, located on the road to Jaisalmer, that attracts the attention of many tourists.

The weavers at Urmul are glad that the loan they received from Rang De has made it easier for them to run as an organisation. They can now stock up on raw materials and cater to bulk orders easily.

Rang De has facilitated the work of Urmul by disbursing a loan of Rs 10 lakhs. We would love to continue supporting them as they strive to keep the tradition of weaving alive in Rajasthan.

Impact team member Harmandeep Singh visited Pokhran in August 2016.

We regularly carry out field trips to ensure that Rang De loans are making the desired impact on the poor communities that we seek to empower. You can see the upcoming field trips on our Field Trip calendar and join us, or you can sign up for audio evaluations by filling up a form here.