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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

UP village carving out a niche in making artificial braids

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SHAHJAHANPUR (UP), July 2 (PTI): The artificial braids woven here give the perfect hair look and style, say artisans in Feel Nagar who are earning a place for themselves in Uttar Pradesh and in several parts of the country with their work.

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However, artificial braids are not about style alone. Villagers say many hang it outside houses and shops, on vehicles and also tie it around the neck of their livestock to ward off the evil eye.

Ajay Kashyap, a resident of Feel Nagar who lost his job during the COVID-19 pandemic, says he returned home to join the business.

The village, located 35 kilometers from the district headquarters, comes under the Tilhar block. Almost every household in the village is involved in the work of braid making.

“The business has helped me make ends meet in the tough times of the pandemic. I am planning to expand the business,” Kashyap said.

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The villagers bring raw cotton thread from Bhilwara, Rajasthan, and some parts of Gujarat. The raw threads are cleaned and cut to the required sizes of braids before being distributed to different households for braiding. People at home, especially women, braid the threads and secure them by tying knots at the end.

Kashyap explains that other artisans decorate the braid by making flowers on braids. In this way, after the efforts of many people, a braid is prepared.

Every artisan works on contract and is paid for his work. Every artisan earns Rs 300-500 daily, Kashyap said. The braids are collected by contractors and distributed across the country.

Afroz Ali, a contractor of braid-making work, said the braids are made throughout the year in the village, but there is more demand from August to October. Ali says a good braid sells for Rs 300 and gives a profit margin sufficient to sustain the business.

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According to locals, the braids are used as totems and tied outside homes and businesses. People also tie it to their cattle or holy trees or private vehicles. Braids are particularly popular among truck drivers who decorate their vehicles with more than 40 braids.

Talib Khan, a truck driver, said he utilizes braids to “protect his vehicle from the evil eye and bad omens”.”The braids also make the truck look beautiful.”

“Once these braids were also popular among women who used them in makeup as hair extension. But it has now been replaced by other braids that use natural hair,” said Kashyap.

District Magistrate Umesh Pratap Singh said artificial braids making has generated self-employment on a large scale in Feel Nagar. “The villagers are engaged in this work due to which they are not forced to migrate in search of jobs.”

The officer said the villagers have been engaged in braiding work for many decades. “It used to be done by people of specific castes, but now people of all castes have adopted it. Women use their free time to make braids and get a good income,” the DM said.

Shahjahanpur superintendent of police Ashok Kumar Meena said there is no history-sheeter, rapist, or even a single person with a criminal history in Feel Nagar village.

“A murder took place in the village in 2011, but since then there has been no such incident. Criminal incidents are almost negligible in Feel Nagar because the residents of the village are mostly engaged in their work,” the SP said.

 

 

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