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Sunrise to Telangana weavers : Sailaja Ramaier breathes life into Gollabhama sarees
There are a good number of expert handloom weavers in the two Telugu states. But lack of patronage and pat have become a bane to them. Weaving was a sad victim in the combined Telugu states.

Luckily the Telangana government of the Telugu state has been giving adequate attention to the neglected weavers and the workers. The Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) and Telangana Handlooms & Textiles Minister KT Rama Rao (KTR) have ensured their livelihood by providing them with work.

Allotment of a whopping Rs 1200 crore to the industry in the recent budget is a glaring example of his commitment to the weaving community.

The weavers are thankful to KCR and KTR who gave a new lease of life to the weaving industry in the newly formed state. The TRS government drove away their hunger pangs by providing them yearlong work. The Telangana State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Societies federation (TSCO) commissioner Sailaja Ramier likes handloom textiles. She knows A to Z in handloom weaving. So she exercises special care to all things concerning the industry. As a result the weavers and the workers are a happy lot in recent times.

Now a days the Pochampalli, Ikkat, Narayanapeta, Gadwal, Armoor sarees and dress clothing's have gained popularity nationally and internationally also. Of late the Gollabhama sarees woven in Siddipet have become international brands. All the credit goes to Sailaja Ramier who had been to Siddipet several times personally, knew their ills and wells, gave them moral support and revived the waning glory of the Gollabhama brand sarees.

A study into the origin of Gollabhamas evokes wonder and joy at one go. As long back as 1942 innovative brains of Meeravattini Somayya and Racha Narasaiah of Siddipet introduced the new brand to the nation. They got the spark from the milkmaids who placed the curd pot on their heads held it with one hand and did so a small pitcher with another hand and walked slowly so as their contents wouldn't spill. The scene captivated the onlookers including the duo. Being weaving professionals they worked on the idea for quite some time wanted to weave new kind of sarees with the brand name Gollabhama' and were successful in their undertaking. They wove first Gollabhama saree with 80th number dyed cotton thread. It is a very complicated job involving deeper concentration.

However, it took a week for them to weave the saree perfectly. They created a buzz in the weaving world. But their toil remained unrewarding. But the art lovers became trend setters in the handloom sphere. Yet they continued weaving the new brand continuously for 40 years with the help of some workers. At last, they migrated due to lack of patronage.

TSCO commissioner Sailaja Ramier, who thoroughly understands about the Siddipet Gollabhama sarees and has committed to renovate the seven-decade-old neglected art, visited the town often and gave moral support to the weavers. She convened some weavers who had knowledge about Gollabhama technique and got the 23 scrapped handlooms repaired. Now the Gollabhama sarees are being woven with jakats and jala techniques, thanks to the commissioner's grit.

Today the Gollabhama sarees appear in 44 TSCO show rooms in Telangana state. Interestingly the outlandish women are buying the sarees with passion. In the past it took a week to manufacture Gollabhama saree measuring 7 yards.  But now due to improved techniques the saree is woven just in 3 days. Gollabhama is now available in different designs both of cotton and silk.  Chunnis and dress materials are also manufactured to attract the new gen youths.

In the past Rs 600 wage was paid to weave a saree. Now  with the filip given by Sailaja  Ramier Rs 1400 wage is paid to the weaver. Since the Telanganaites are patronising the Gollabhamas  the patent rights went to the Siddipet alone. The Centre accorded patent rights in 2009. Gollabhama cotton saree costs Rs 3000 to 4000 while the silk one costs Rs 9000 to 10000. It is difficult turn away one's looks from the sarees and silently compels one to buy them. The commissioner is bent upon providing training to some more weavers on Jakat looms to widen the scope.

But two women entrepreneurs who turned black sheep are reported to be misleading public with their occasional false statements that they are the ones who had been giving uplift to the long-neglected Gollabhama genre. Most people are critical about their prattle. The weavers are equivocal that it was Sailaja Ramier who brought light into their gloomy lives by giving them adequate encouragement.

In this connection Sailaja Ramier who spoke with the "Journalist news and views" monthly features editor Nandam Ramarao expressed her view that it was necessary to give a helping hand to the handicrafts professionals.

Several artists connected to various professions are groaning with dejection and depression due to lack of financial support to their respective crafts. At this juncture Chief Minister KCR and his son KTR have come forward to identify the needy craftsmen and giving them monetary support under different schemes.

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