Imphal, May 29 (ANI): A new unique range of handloom products called Lashing Phi, which means cotton cloth in Manipuri, is catching the fancy of buyers and women weavers in a handloom cottage industry in Manipur headed by O. Shyama Devi.
The manufacture of products made from Lashing Phi or cotton cloth like carpets, quilts, dining mats, cushion covers, bags, dress materials and others is fast becoming the latest trend in Manipur's handloom cottage industry.
O. Shyama Devi of Kwakeithel, Moirang Purel, in Imphal is among the few who have taken up this lucrative business. She took it up in 1978.
Shyama, who belongs to a poor family, has felt the need to become self-reliant since she was young.
After getting married to Jateshwor, she established a small cottage unit called 'Unique Manipuri Women Association' with just six persons initially with the support of her husband.
Womenfolks here are trained to make items of Lashing Phi using traditional weaving looms and raw cotton fibres.
"I want to make women self-sufficient, and especially help orphans. This is one reason that inspired me to start the business. The legacy of our forefathers, their ways of traditionally weaving clothes will also be preservedm," said Shyama Devi.
"We are engaging ourselves in this work during our free time. With the money we earn, we are able to contribute in the maintenance of our families," said Oinam Momota, an artisan.
O. Shyama Devi is now running five Lashing Phi self-help groups, which employ around 50-60 artisans.
Amra is one of the artisans working at the self-help group in Kwakeithel. Depending on the size of the cotton fabric, she usually takes a day or two to finish weaving a single fabric and earns Rs 100 per fabric.
"There are many unemployed people in our locality. We thought we should do something and earn our livelihoods. That is how the venture came up. We are hopeful that it will benefit us," said Amra.
Raw cotton fibres for making Lashing Phi is purchased in bulk from farmers in Jiribam, who are usually men.
Shyama Devi's cottage industry is a boon for her women employees and others.
"Not only women, but also men, will be indirectly involved in the venture. We need cotton raw material, which is grown by men on farms. That way, unemployed youths will be given jobs," said Shyama Devi.
Shyama Devi's business is flourishing with the increase in demand from government agencies and private firms from across the country.
But due to the lack of infrastructure, this cottage industry is yet to prosper fully.
"We have been making things like loin clothes and bed sheets. But Lashing Phi is something new and interesting for us. It is very handy to use and attractive as well. Customers are also showing their interest in the products," said Amra.
"We can employ many more people. But due to shortages of infrastructure like weaving looms and other materials, it is not possible. We are trying to expand but it is difficult," said Shyama Devi.
The handloom industry plays a vital role in the socio-economic development in the state.
The initiative taken up by O. Shyama Devi will definitely improve the lives of many people working under her. (ANI)