Posts Tagged ‘Costumes of Orissa’

The Ubiquitous Khurda Gamchha

A village resident wearing gamchha

A village resident wearing gamchha

Orissa is wonderland set amidst such glorious diversities that make it a cauldron of cacophony and yet give it so meaningful a distinction that define it from the rest. Be it culture, dialect, cuisine, fabric, every place of the wonderland is filled with something special about it.

Many places of the state are unique for their own set of reasons. Some for their delicacies, some for monuments while some other for fabrics! And when we speak of fabric, Khurda aptly comes to the fore. For long the place is interlinked with the popular “Gamchhas” that is synonymous with the oriya culture.

So deeply ingrained are the gamchhas as the costumes of Orissa that a Bengali traveler once noted – “While traveling to Orissa from West Bengal, how do you get to know if you are in West Bengal or in Orissa? Apart from the changing language on the platform boards, there’s one more way. The lavish green fields through which the train runs, are often spotted with orange dots here and there. They are Orissa residents wearing the famous orange gamchha, which declare the arrival of Orissa!”

The residents known for their love of gammchas have clearly made a distinction between the Khurda Gamchha and rest! The Khurda gamchha has endowed the state’s handloom industry with a unique distinction. Such is the craze of the fabric in Orissa, that in most households no other forms of towel are ever entertained! And gradually it has come to be identified with the traditions of Orissa. In one of the recent developments involving the Khurda gamchhas, one independent MLA from Khurda Mr Rajendra Sahu presented the members of entire Orissa Legislative Assembly with sets of Khurda Lungis and Gamchhas which were snapped by the legislators.

Though the origin of the Khurda Gamchha cannot be definitely traced, its popularity can be dated back to 1952 when the Lungi and Gamchha became fashionable. It all began from the Palla Village in Khurda District. A person named jay Krushna Das learnt the art of making gamchha at a factory in Bhagalpur. Later a trader from Khurda named Ganpat Ram put him to work and opened a factory in Khurda under his guidance. Those were the days when the cotton and thread for the fabric were brought from Madurai and far off Japan.

Slowly as the fabric got popular in Orissa market, Khurda become synonymous with the center for Gamchha production.The first facility to come up with the trademark Khurda gamchha was Sreekrishna Weaving factory. Earlier the length of the fabric used to be 183cm *84 cm. and it was hand woven and marketed in metros like Kolkata,Delhi and Chennai. People loved it because it lasted long and the color was foolproof despite after multiple washings. However the ubiquitous gamchhas are no longer hand woven and have steadily gained in price. Earlier a standard “gamchha” used to cost Rs 10 which is now available at Rs 45.

At present a bulk of these towels are manufactured in Erode in Tamilnadu, but they carry the stamp of Khurda and yet retain their popularity. Apart from Khurda and Erode, there are many factories where the typical fabric is manufacture under the sobriquet of “Khurda Gamchha”. Some of these are at Kalapathar,Itamani, jatani and Bhadrak. Regardless of the places where they are manufactured and changes in their style an production technique, the brand still rules over the hearts of oriyas.