You may know about Ayurvedhic soap, Ayurvedhic cream and Ayurvedic drugs but do you know what Ayurvedic clothes are? You may be genuinely wondering what they really are. Yes, it is difficult for anyone to believe if we further state that these Ayurvedic cloths protect our body like a tender flower and also cure skin diseases. As ever before, this practice of Ayurvedic textiles has been initiated by Kerala.
The dresses we use today are colored with synthetic dyes. Though these dresses are attractive and enhance beauty they are harmful to our health and also to our environment.
Dresses processed by ‘synthetic’ chemicals and ‘toxic’ compounds were introduced in India in 1856 during the British rule. Before that period, our ancestors used dresses that were not harmful to our body and of natural origin.
Particularly, kings used to wear dresses made of natural colorants and dyed with herbal products. The costume makers used to make dresses exclusively for the hot and cold climate. Dresses were made to give peace of mind and also to protect the body from skin diseases.
The government of Kerala has initiated to promote Ayurvedic textile technology once followed by our ancestors as the clothes of today have turned out to be a heap of chemicals and toxins.
Kerala has always been proactive in these kinds of initiatives towards strengthening culture and tradition. From the time of Trivancore kings ruling before 1956, local textile production had been encouraged, making efforts to stop the import of foreign goods completely. In 2006, the government of Kerala introduced Ayurvedic textile production. But the life of that project remained alive only for a year and there was no further progress on the project. But a youth from Balaramapuram, Mr. Sujeev grasped the idea of Ayurvedic textile production and now has popularized the idea globally.
The family of Sujeev has been involved in textile production for the past 63 years. With the support from the government of Kerala, he began to produce Ayurvedic textile. But there was no market as expected. People were not willing to buy traditionally made dresses with medicinal values as they were lured by the colors and synthetic aspects of modern dress materials.
At that time, an environmental activist, Mr. Kumar joined hands with Sujeev. Much interested in culture and tradition, he resigned his lucrative job with a multinational company and got into researching with Ayurvedic textile production. Together they succeeded in getting their products patented with the trade mark. They strictly adhered to the practice of dyeing processes traditionally followed in olden days. The market for Ayurvedic cloths expanded with the increase in demand for the same.
Sujeev completely moved his dyeing unit from Balapuram to Erode. With an objective of disseminating the Ayurvedic textile production, they also started teaching about the natural dyeing technology and Ayurvedic textile production. Today, the technology has traveled beyond India, reaching to Germany, Japan, Ceylon and Ireland.
These Ayurvedic textiles are produced using Tulsi (Ocimum), turmeric, Kadukkai (T myrobilan), traditionally milled oil, sheaths of onion, pomegranate, cow urine and Boondhikottai (soap nut). Colorants are extracted from vegetables, leaves and stems, barks and fruits. Other than textiles, bed spreads are also produced by this technology. These products serve as coolants to our body and provide peace to our mind. Even if children tend to chew the dress materials it won’t be harmful to them. Besides, they protect our skin from getting related diseases. Particularly, these products are not harmful to our environment. Even the wastes generated during production processes can be used for cultivation as manure.
The textile industry has transformed into a massive trade. Those who are involved in traditional textile production have been fast disappearing as they are not able to endure the impact of multinational companies. At the same time, the world is turning towards natural products. This is a welcome sign. Great trade opportunities are in the offing if we could produce textiles based on the traditional methods followed by our ancestors that are environment-friendly. There needs to be awareness among the youngsters who have been aspiring to become entrepreneurs and there should be encouragement and support by the respective governments too.
(This article written in Tamil by Uma has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)