By Vivek Tripathi
Varanasi, April 18 | The Banarasi saree industry, renowned for its production of beautiful and some of the finest sarees in India, is struggling to cope with the dip in the business it is facing due to the nationwide lockdown owing to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 450 lives in the country so far.
The Banarasi sarees are quite popular for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery. The sarees are usually made of finely woven silk and decorated with intricate design. Due to these engravings, these sarees are relatively heavy.
The Coronavirus-triggered crisis has not only led to the fall in the sale of sarees, a number of workers associated with the Banarasi saree industry are also suffering. It’s being said the industry is facing a loss of around Rs 24 crore daily.
Ashok Dhawan, patron of the Banarasi Textile Industries Association, told IANS,: “It is a cottage industry. About one lakh families are involved in this. Everything is closed now and this is causing a loss of about 24 crores per day. “
“We have an annual income of about Rs 6,000 crore. We sell for 250 days. The business is closed for 100 days. This business runs without any support from the government. It’s a self-funded employment. This industry is currently closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and due to this, many families are struggling,” Dhawan said.
He said that Banarasi sarees are sold most in the domestic market. The saree is sold in all districts of India its demand raises especially during marriages as it’s used widely.
“There is no system here like place an order and book your product. Here, the customer comes and purchases the products himself. People purchase these sarees a lot during the wedding season,” he said.
Vaibhav Kapoor, vice-president of the Silk Trade Association, said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the entire market. The business of the months of March and April have taken a blow, and things are not likely to get better even in May. It will take at least six months to recover from this. Even after the end of lockdown, it will take a lot of time for the industry to recover.”
The Banarasi saree industry is also dependent on tourists to a significant extent. Many tourists from south regions of India come here to purchase the sarees.
“There is a huge market of Banarasi sarees in the south. Even in Holi, the business did not pick much pace. The Navratri season was also simlar. Now, due to COVID-19, the loss would be in crores. There is a lot of demand of sarees in the villages as well but due to the current situation, the business is stalled there too. Let’s see if we can witness some decent business around Diwali,” Kapoor said.
Ramswaroop, a saree shopkeeper in Varanasi, said: “Sarees are sold in large numbers during wedding seasons. But this time, the sale of sarees have been low since March. The Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the markets.”
(Vivek Tripathi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)