Weavers of Kotambu Village

Vidhya Jinesh | Oct 01, 2013 | Vol 5, Issue 4
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Situated on the banks of Bharathapuzha in Palakkad district (Kerala, India), Kotambu is known for the weaving community settled in the village.

Kotambu is a typical village in Kerala, situated on the banks of Bharathapuzha in Palakkad district. With gushing waters and grooving trees in the background, the mesmerizing sound of conch and tolls of temple bells adds to the serenity of this hamlet. The main attraction of the village is Kotambu Subrahmaniaswamy temple, an ancient temple of Lord Surbrahmanian with his two wives. The couple god Marathambika-Goshteeswaran (Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi) is also worshipped in the temple. Kotambu is also known for the weaving community settled in this village.

The Weaving Community

According to the legends, the weaving community called Senguntha Muthali came from Kanchipuram many centuries before and settled on the banks of the river in Kotambu and also in areas Chittoor, Thathamangalam, Thenaari etc. Earlier the deity of the temple of Kotambu was only Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvathi and there is a story behind the establishment of the God Subrahmainan in the temple. In ancient times, the weavers from Kotambu used to travel to the towns of Tamil Nadu for collecting yarns and other essentials for work. Once, while returning back to the village, they heard somebody requesting to accompany them. They realised this as God's idol talking to them and took the idol with them. With the help of the local king, the weaver community installed the deity in this temple.  Since then all the community members acknowledged Lord Subrahmaniaswamy of Kotambu temple as their community deity. And in due course of time the temple of Kotambu began to be known for the deity of Lord Subrahmaniaswamy.

The weavers use pit looms as the main frame and the weaving is done at ground level. The weaver sits, putting his legs to a small pit, where the weaver will do the manipulation of levers using legs, simultaneously do the weaving using the shuttle.  In the whole process, first they wash the yarns with fresh water from the river, and then make warp (paavu).  The yarn is then starched and dried in the sun light in an open ground (Pavodi parambu). Here they also do the brushing and sometimes application of some coconut oil to the yarn. The process of brushing is called Pillu Keeruka.  If you go to one such ground, (Pavodi Parambu, west of the main temple and near to another small temple of Vinayaka), you can see how they do the drying and brushing. It is then taken to the loom for weaving. At present, the weavers in the village are making only thin Kerala towels commonly called Thorthu mundu.

Natarajan is one such weaver who does the weaving at his home in the traditional manner, with the help of his family members. If you walk a little, to the bank of the river, you can cross the river by a self operated raft, (called Paadi) you reach Velliyangiri's house named “Rajeswari Nilayam”, near the Mariyamman Kovil. This is another weaver family on the other bank of the River. Here Velliyangiri, together with his son, in- laws and niece do the weaving and its preparatory work.

Kotambu Handloom Weavers' Cooperative Society

For the upliftment of weaver community,   Kotambu Handloom Weavers' Cooperative Society Ltd was started in the year 1947.  The present secretary of the society is C. Rajamma and has been serving in the post since 1998. The modus operandi of the society is that, society will provide the yarn to the weavers and buy back the woven products. In the beginning there were around 600 workers and 300 looms in operation, weaving variety of products like Saari, Dhotti, Veshtti, Bed sheet etc.  Now the number of looms has reduced considerably and at present only 40 looms including some at Paalayam, on the other bank of Chitoor River alone is functioning. Even though the workers are less compared to the yesteryears, the society is running on profit and also could give good benefits to the employees like pension, health insurance, grant for education, hospitalisation, wedding etc.

Weavers of the Kotambu village opinion that, even though the Society is running on profit, youngsters are not entering to this field and hence the people engaged in weaving are reducing day by day. Taking into account of the fact that, there is an increased demand in the market for the hand woven cotton clothes, efforts should be taken to develop the infrastructure and revive the weaving industry of Kotambu village.

Location: Kotambu is about 5km from Palakkad town on Chittoor/Pollachi road, in Palakkad district, Kerala (India).

For info/visit: Kotambu Handloom Weavers' Cooperative P & S Society ltd, Ph: 0491-2574058

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The history of Kodumbu weavers is very well written and hats off to you for the same

Thank You :- Welcome Kerala team.

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