Sarees made from banana fibre?
Yes, they existed during the Ramayana era; and the art has been revived after several millennia at a village near Chennai. What’s more, these sarees are eco-friendly. And no, they aren’t slippery.
“Two years ago, I read Sita was gifted sarees woven from banana fibres,” said C. Sekar, 40, a handloom weaver in Anakaputhur village. “I thought: Why can’t we revive this tradition?”
Several months of trial and error later, Sekar, president of the Anakaputhur Jute Weaver’s Association, and 30 fellow weavers perfected the art of extracting fibres from plantain stems and weaving them.
Today, the association sells 150 such sarees, spun from a mix of banana and cotton or silk fibres, every month at Rs 700-2,500 each.
“We will also shortly apply for a patent,” said Sekar.
It was sheer survival instinct that led him to this innovation. A booming handloom centre even 10 years ago, 95 per cent of Anaka-puthur’s 7,000 looms have shut down since then. “There was no market for jute-based handlooms, and the future looked bleak. Fortunately, the banana sarees have been received well,” Sekar, who displayed them for the first time at the Banana Festival in Chennai, told HT.
Next step: stitching men’s shirts from this eco-fabric, expanding capacity to cope with the increased demand and venturing abroad.