Gilvester Assary, June 9, 2006, NDTV.COM
Handloom Weavers Development Society in Kerala's Balaramapuram is catching international attention for its ayurvedic textiles – known as Ayurvastra.
Now the society has established an Ayurvastra Centre at a cost of Rs one crore for research, development and marketing activities.
Compulsive shoppers should now head south to God's own country, Kerala, where after ayurvedic tourism, the latest craze is Ayurvastra.
Here the clothes have nature's own cures for diseases like diabetes, skin infections, blood pressure and hypertension.
And a recent study by Kerala's Government Ayurveda College found noticeable difference in patients using bedding, rugs and towels made from Ayurvastra.
"We get lot of inquiries every day and lot of customers and patients come here to buy Ayurvastra from our showroom everyday," said Rajan of Handloom Weavers Society.
Simple to produce
The process to produce the wonder fabric is rather simple actually.
Herbs are boiled at a particular temperature and the fabric is left to soak in it for hours.
Ayurvedic herbs, sandalwood, neem and turmeric are used in the process and with the demand for the fabric increasing, weavers are obtaining herbs and medicinal plants in bulk from forests near Thiruvananthapuram.
This forest has hundreds of varieties of medicinal plants, which are used for manufacturing Ayurvastra and ayurvedic medicines.
The local adivasis walk kilometers through the thick forest to collect these plants.
But the benefits haven't yet reached everyone involved in the business.
Adivasis not benefited
While handloom societies and middlemen have flourished, the adivasis who collect the herbs from the forests, continue to be paid poorly.
"We usually stay in deep forest for ten to twelve days and collect ayurvedic herbs and medicinal plants," said Surendran Kani, an adivasi.
"We can recognize only a few of them but this area is very rich in medicinal plants," he said.
The Ayurvastra economy is flourishing. Last year the Handloom Weaver's Society exported clothes worth Rs one crore.
And this year it hopes to do even better with orders coming in from Italy, Germany, UK, US, Singapore and Malayasia.