CHENNAI: Mahatma Gandhi would have been pleased to present the Ahimsa Sari to his musical muse MS Subbulakhsmi.
Mahatma’s Ahimsa theme was once again reinforced in Andhra-based Kusuma Rajaiah’s patent-winning Ahimsa Silk Saris. The saris are woven through a complicated process known as ‘eco-friendly method of manufacturing mulberry silk yarn’.
Ahimsa silk was once again in the news when Avatar director James Cameron’s current wife Suzy Amis wore an ‘Avatar blue’ gown made from Ahimsa silk at the 2010 Oscars. It was then reported that while his exwife Kathryn Bigelow scored over him as the best director, it was his current wife who saved the day winning accolades for her flowing blue Ahimsa silk gown, designed by the young Jillian Granz.
Hailed as the ‘saviour of silk worms’ in his home town, Kusuma Rajaiah, a technocrat in handloom technology, and currently a procurement officer with Andhra Pradesh Trade and Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Ltd (APCO) said that he had already sold five Ahimsa silk saris to Indonesia’s former president Megawati Sukarnoputri’s in 2002. Rajaiah was representing APCO when the Indian government held an exhibition at Jakarta and one such Ahimsa sari was presented to the Indonesian president as a gift from India. Thrilled at the lustre and softness of the sari, Megawati chose five more saris from an assortment of about 30 of them recalled Rajaiah.
For the uninitiated, silkworms are placed in bamboo baskets and fed mulberry leaves. As they consume the leaves, they exude viscous fluids through head glands.
These substances known as fibroin (raw silk) and sericin (bonding gum) harden upon contact with air forming basic silk filament which is a combination of two fibres held together by the gum.
But the worm is still alive inside the cocoon. And the silk is extracted after the silkworm has completed the metamorphosis and allowed to fly out of the cocoon.
The first two saris to the Indian commercial market was introduced by B Gopinath, Kancheepuram-based CEO of Arni-based SKP Silks Sarees, who entered into an MoU with Kusuma Rajaiah for mass production of Ahimsa silk saris for five years in Tamil Nadu.
On the face of it, one cannot easily differentiate between the conventional silk sari and the Ahimsa Silk, even though the latter would cost a few thousand rupees more, because of the intricate process it involves.
Gopinath says, “Our primary target groups would the Jain community and anyone who has a proclivity to the concept of vegetarianism.”