‘Chekutty’ dolls are helping the handloom industry in Kerala, which was heavily ravaged by the recent floods, stand back up on its feet. This unique name, which translates to ‘the child who overcame dirt’, is now becoming a new symbol of resilience and hope across the state. Lakshmi Menon, a designer consorted with Gopinath Parayil, founder and CEO of a travel agency is on the mission to transform damaged handloom sarees into ‘chekutty’ dolls to support the handloom community restoring itself.
The duo is working with one of the weaver unit in Chendamangalam, Ernakulam, to chlorinate and clean the clothes in order to make dolls. A team of selected 60 people are working on the process of making dolls. According to Lakshmi and Gopinath, out of one saree they make 360 dolls. This dolls are colourful and versatile decorative items. Chekutty is now up for sale on www.chekutty.in, the official website set up to promote the dolls. Volunteers are also invited to support their initiative. Entire profit of the sale will go to the rebuilding of handloom industry.
Ajith Kumar, secretary of the Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society, in Karimpadam, told The Indian Express that, “When they (the designers) came up with the idea, we agreed immediately because these damaged materials can’t be reused any other way. Right now, around 60 weavers in our cooperative have temporarily lost their livelihoods. At least for six months, we won’t be able to reopen our factories, that’s the extent of the damage,” said Kumar.
The devastating floods in Kerala have ruined lakhs of livelihood across the state, not to mention their homes and properties. Handloom cooperative society at Chendamangalam village has an estimated loss of Rs 15 crores. Chekutty dolls seem like a ray of hope in these times for the weavers.