Sacred Ramnami gamchhas, chadars and dhotis, along with the revered cotton thread ‘kalainaras’, are much more than religious items in Sangam city. Here during the Kumbh, they will be symbols of communal harmony.
As the 55-day Kumbh Mela begins in Allahabad with the first official bathing on Makar Sankranti on January 14, the demand for these religious clothes and threads would rise among both the seers and the devotees. But the city will have adequate stocks, thanks to months of hard labour by Muslim dyers of Lalgopalganj.
For generations, dozens of Muslim workers of Ibrahimpur, Khanjahanpur and Ahlaadganj of Lalgopalganj, a town area, located around 40km west of Allahabad city, have been making these accoutrements used while worshiping Hindu Gods and Goddesses as well as for various rituals.
For the past over three months, around 1500 dyers of these areas, including men, women and even teenagers, have been busy finishing these clothes so that the increased demand can be met without any problems.
“We have been dying kalainaras and block printing chunris and Ramnami chadars, dhotis for past many decades, just like our forefathers. Our products go to various temples all over the region, including Sheetla Dham, Kalyani Devi temple, Vaishno Dham and Kalka Devi temple, among others. We are well aware of their religious importance and therefore prepare them with full devotion and reverence,” said Mohd Shahid, a dyer (rangrez) and a devout Muslim involved in the trade for the past over two decades.
Another rangrez Master Sartaj said that while chunri and kalainara formed the bulk of their trade, for the past three months almost all of the rangrez of the area and their family members were busy making Ramnami gamchhas, chadars and dhotis in view of the Kumbh .
“For these we use Bhimandi crepe cloth and Chennai rayon cloth,” he said.
Trader Mohd Idris and Abdul Bari, who produce these items and trade in them, said that in view of the Kumbh Mela, they had even got shops allotted to them in the Mela area. “We are confident that we will be able to sell all our stock prepared during the past few months during the almost two-month-long Kumbh and are eagerly awaiting its start,” he said .
(With inputs from Rizwan Ullah in Lalgopalganj)