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Gamochas with elephant motifs to highlight importance in eco-system

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HT Bureau
GUWAHATI, Oct 17: Women weavers in the state are now weaving motifs of elephants in the Assamese
gamocha to highlight the importance of the animal in the eco-system and the need to mitigate the man-
animal conflict.
With an aim to facilitate human elephant co-existence (HEC) with community support in eastern Assam
districts, Aaranyak has launched an initiative to provide high-quality yarn as well as training to women
handloom weavers from the community.
In tune with its endeavour to facilitate conservation of elephants, Aaranyak has encouraged some of
these weavers to weave gamochas with elephant motifs to highlight the importance of the giant animal
in our ecosystem, folklore.
The Aaranyak in collaboration with British Asian Trust and with support from Darwin Initiative has so far
provided high-quality yarn to weavers from over 200 households in eastern Assam districts of Jorhat (40
households), Sivasagar (43), Majuli (60), Dibrugarh (48) and Tinsukia (12) so as to supplement the
average household income.
Aaranyak is a non-profit organization working in the bio-diversity and wildlife conservation sphere.
“Facilitating human-wildlife coexistence is not possible unless there is sincere community support for
the initiative. So, winning the support of the community is an essential prerequisite to achieve the goal,”
stated Aaranyak in a statement.
“Frequent interfaces between villagers and wild elephants whose habitats have shrunk, migration
corridors have been fragmented, in eastern Assam districts calls for community-oriented mitigation
measures that may help coexistence with wild elephants,” the statement further stated.
Ensuring a steady supply of yarn, the organization aims to contribute to the sustainable livelihoods of
these handloom weavers, enabling them to earn a decent income as well as preserve the traditional
craft of handloom weaving in eastern Assam districts especially river island district of Majuli which is
renowned for rich traditional handloom products weaved by tribal weavers.
In pursuit to add value to the handloom products in those human-elephant interface affected areas in
Eastern Assam, it had adopted a two-pronged strategy of providing high-quality yarn to women
handloom weavers as well as advanced trading to upscale their skill.
65 weavers from Jorhat district, 68 from Sivasagar district, 71 from Majuli district, 65 from Dibugarh
district and 11 from Tinsukia district have been provided training till date to help them improve the
quality of their products.
Each of these weavers were provided with 5 kgs of high-quality yarn each. The average monthly income
of the households where these weavers belong, is around Rs 5000. Training was provided for 11 days in

total to weavers across these five districts. The master trainer engaged by Aaranyak was Nandeswar
Deka.
Majuli, the largest inhabited river island in the world, is known for its rich cultural heritage, including its
handloom weaving tradition which is a significant occupation for many inhabitants of Majuli, particularly
the Mishing tribe. However, weavers in the region have faced several challenges, including limited
access to raw materials such as yarn.
Rina Doley (22) of Majuli is one of the weavers, who have benefited from this initiative. Her family has
seven members and possesses only two bighas of land. The annual income of her family is
approximately Rs 70,000.
Agriculture was Rina’s prime source of livelihood before she received yarn support and training. Though
she was into weaving, the products were meant for only family members. After getting 5kg of yarn
support from Aaranyak, Rina Doley weaved two pairs of Chadar and Makhela (Assamese women
traditional dress) and sold them for Rs 2000 a pair. With this money she bought essentials and books for
her children.
“Handloom weaving has been a traditional occupation in our region for generations. It involves weaving
intricate designs and patterns using yarn to create beautiful fabrics. However, as traditional as it may be,
the handloom sector is facing numerous challenges today. The lack of access to quality yarn, high
production costs, and limited market opportunities are some of the major hurdles we face,” Rona Doley
said adding the yarn support from Aaranyak has been a game-changer for the weavers in the community
as it has provided access to high-quality yarn that makes a huge difference in the quality and durability
of their handloom products. This, in turn, has increased the value and market demand the handloom
fabrics.
She also commented that the yarn support has been instrumental for the weavers to add diversity to
their product range. It has not only provided the weavers with high-quality yarns but also exposed them
to various eco-friendly and natural fibers. This has allowed them to create sustainable products that
attract a wider customer base.
Experienced textile experts impart training to help such weavers improve their weaving techniques and
introduce new designs. This has gone a long way to improve the weavers’ livelihood by supplementing
their average income. As the income level of the weavers has significantly increased, they are now able
to support their families better and invest in the education and healthcare of their children.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur
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