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Gamcha is used as a towel in India, but the rising concern for sustainable fashion has widened its use showing a silver lining to this handloom woven textile in midst of industrial production.
Being a Bengali, Gamcha is a textile of daily use for me. A utility piece of colorful check cotton fabric used as towel suitable for the temperate climate of India. Its ability to absorb water and dry quickly makes it an ideal necessity.
Gamchas are always used new in occasion and family functions. The Bride and Grooms are given new colourful check gamcha. Any important guest in the family is always offered new Gamcha for use. A new gamcha denotes the visual significance of being important and respectful.
Gamcha has been traditionally woven by handloom weavers along with lungis (men's lower drape cloth) and saries (women's drape cloth) in eastern parts of India, including West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
Northeastern part of India has there owned Red and white Gamcha. That is used to welcome guest or to pay respect.
A few years back I visited weavers village in West Bengal on my trip to my Grandma's Village. I was so excited to experience the process of making a handloom Gamcha and artistry involved with it. The selection of colours and the combination of checks are just beautiful. The fabric is so light and airy which comforts the skin.
"I remember, I was so fascinated by the variety and the exploration of gamchas being developed, stripes with ikkat technique. I immediately decided to buy some of them and do something with it.
Back home in Delhi, I started making stoles out of it, Some with laces, some with pom poms..and made some diary also. That was the first collection I ever made to put it on sale on an online portal under my brand name Noorani Biswas in 2013"
Today I see several other designers coming up with various approaches towards Gamcha making it lot more than just a towel. Gamcha is now worn as saree, caps, tunics. It is now adorning the accessories like bags, wallets, cushions.
Rising competition in the market is faced due to increased use of power looms which are cheaper has reduced the livelihood of these weavers of rural India.
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