AMN / Kolkata
Malmal or Muslin weavers of Bengal, who were on the brink of extinction, have got a new lease of life as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken a new initiative to promote their traditional skill.
To boost the sale and marketing of this lush cotton fabric, the government is developing a Muslin Tourism Circuit (MTC) at three places in the state. The West Bengal Khadi and Village Industries Board (WBKVIB) will be organising the tours, with assistance from a private organisation, Society for Kindling Handicrafts and Indigenous Art.
In the case of foreign tourists, the Board will also take the assistance of foreign embassies in organising the tours. The tours will take tourists to the villages of Akalpoush and Sasinara in Bardhaman district and to Berhampore in Mursidabad district to witness the manufacturing of muslin fabric with their own eyes.
The village of Baluchar, also in Murshidabad district, which is a hub for silk and baluchari sarees, will also be a part of the circuit. Foreign tourists who would go on tours of Bardhaman and Murshidabad districts will also be taken to these places apart from the conventional tourist destinations.
The project will be formally launched on September 20. According to the chairman of WBKVIB, the MTC will get a big push after Durga Puja ends. According to a senior official of WBKVIB, another advantage of taking foreigners on the circuit is that, as has been noticed, having a knack for joining hands with weavers in the making of handmade fine fabric, watching the production process on their own will increase their chances of buying the products.
WBKVIB has also created the basic infrastructure of sales outlets, resting rooms, bathroom facilities and restaurants for light tea and snacks at these places for the convenience of both foreign and Indian tourists. The weavers who have lent out their places for setting up these infrastructural facilities will also get a token amount from the Board annually.
From making muslin products available at Biswa Bangla stalls to opening an exclusive outlet named Club Muslim at the Dakshinapan shopping complex to the WBKVIB adopting a scheme for the upliftment of these weavers and taking part in fashion shows, both abroad and here, the Bengal Government has done a lot to revive and popularise this age-old craft. The Board has also tied up with an NGO that has started selling a wide range of muslin at its outlet at Nazrul Tirtha in New Town, on the outskirts of Kolkata.