There are only 30 handlooom units in the area now’
Woraiyur in Tiruchi was once famous for its handloom saris. Those were the days when Woraiyur saris, along with Sungadi in Madurai and Chinnalapatti in Dindigul, held sway over the Indian diaspora in Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Today, the weaving tradition is on the threshold of extinction due to sharp decline in patronage for handloom products.
Handlooms units flourished in Woraiyur until a few years ago. Every house had four to five looms, with most of the family members involved in weaving. For instance, almost all members of Devanga Chettiar community in the area were involved in the craft.
According to a weaver, there were 500 to 600 handlooms in Tiruchi — most of them in Woraiyur — in the early part of 1990s. The number started dwindling gradually after the introduction of powerlooms in various parts of the country including Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode. It was 150 handlooms until five years ago in Woraiyur. Now, it is just 30.
An official at the office of Assistant Director of Handlooms says that only around 100 weavers are active now. Of them, 90 are receiving getting old age pension. The new generation is not ready to inherit the family occupation. “We had a network of 15 agents in Woraiyur, Kulithalai and Thottiam, giving work orders to more than 500 handlooms about 20 years ago. We have moved out of our occupation long ago. None of my family members are into handloom weaving,” says l. Ramalingam, a member of Devanga Chettiar community.
The Woraiyur Devangar Cooperative Weaving Society and Tiruchirappalli Cooperative Weaving Society were active in engaging their members in weaving and marketing their products under the brand of ‘Woraiyur sari’.
The latter has become dormant.