British Indians mark National Handloom Day with Saree Walkathon in London
The over 500 women marching in traditional drapes attracted the attention of tourists and onlookers as they chanted slogans such as “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram”
Hundreds of Indian-origin women draped in sarees from different states in India walked down the streets of central London on Sunday in celebration of National Handloom Day.
The Saree Walkathon coordinated by the British Women in Sarees group began their colourful march at Trafalgar Square and concluded at the Mahatma Gandhi statue at Parliament Square after some singing-dancing stops along the way on Whitehall near Downing Street.
The women, representing the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Delhi, among others, chanted patriotic slogans along the kilometre-long route and ended their walkathon with the National Anthem.
“As ambassadors of this movement, we feel grateful that we have gained immense success with our early efforts in bringing the limelight for the artists and weavers and putting their wearable art on a pedestal where everyone is curious to know more about them,” said Dr Hema Santhosh, one of the coordinators for Kerala.
“But we intend to achieve more. We intend to identify handloom clusters in India, in need of help and lend them our support. We intend to raise awareness among all about our handlooms, their history and the art behind it. This peaceful Saree Walkathon of ours is another initiative to make this possible,” she said.
The over 500 women marching in traditional drapes attracted the attention of tourists and onlookers as they chanted slogans such as “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram”.
From garba and dandiya to Bollywood beats, they also got many passers-by to join in their enthusiastic celebrations.
“The British Women in Sarees is a group of empowered women who take pride in flaunting handloom sarees and representing the unique cultural melting pot that is India. It is a not-for-profit organisation which likes to organise events to promote our national heritage and make everyone around the world aware of the toil, handwork and artistry which goes behind weaving each of these masterpieces,” said Dr Dipti Jain.
National Handloom Day is marked annually on August 7 as a tribute to the handloom-weaving community of India and highlights the contribution of this sector to the socio-economic development of the country.
The date connects with the independence struggle when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Swadeshi Movement in 1905 to encourage indigenous industries and in particular handloom weavers.