When one thinks of textiles from Tamil Nadu, it is most often Kanchipuram silks that come to his or her mind, when we have so many more weaving communities,” remarked TN Venkatesh, the Managing Director of Co-optex.
Weaving communities from Mayiladuthurai (Nagapattinam district), Gangaikonda Cholapuram (Ariyalur district) and Woraiyur (Tiruchy district) brought their finest of weaves to the city. “Co-optex brought down handloom sarees from five regions — Koorainadu, Jayakondam (cotton), Woraiyur (cotton), Darasuram (silks) and Thirubuvanam (silks). The whole idea was to bring these weavers and the regions back to focus. The Cauvery delta as a region has varied textiles, rich cuisines and history, which we wanted to throw light on,” Venkatesh told us.
The state-run Tamil Nadu Handloom Weavers’ Cooperative Society, commonly known as Co-optex, has been working with over 15,000 weavers from the districts in the delta region, he added. “We have been working with young designers and new colour palettes so that these traditional handloom weaves can appeal to younger demographic as well. We have added silver and copper zaris, too, to the sarees, instead of the usual gold ones,” he stressed.
At the event, the weavers present shared their stories of what it takes to create each of their sarees. For instance, a Koorainadu saree, which includes multiple colours in checks, takes the weavers at least 10 days to make on a handloom. In addition to learning about the textiles, the audiences could also explore the history of the delta region through an illustrated talk on its ancient temples by historian Dr Chithra Madhavan. The region’s rich past saw the rulers of the Chola kingdom, the Vijayanagara Empire as well as the Marathas.
The rulers also infused a variety of cuisines into the land, which were highlighted by chef Rakesh Raghunathan. For instance, Kumbakonam kadappa dish evolved as an influence of the Marathas, while bun halwa is popular and unique to the Saurashtra weaving community settled in the state.