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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Weaving memories: Pune duo who brought back the legacy of making ‘godhadi’ by helping village women

Tushar Pakhare and Neeraj Borate brought together illiterate women living in villages and those who couldn’t go out of their houses to pursue jobs because of their cultural and family obligations and offered them a platform to monetise the traditional practise of making ‘godhadi’

pune Updated: Jan 28, 2018 16:49 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
(From left) Tushar Pakhare and Neeraj Borate.
(From left) Tushar Pakhare and Neeraj Borate.(ht photo)

Tushar Pakhare was a student of Wadia College when he volunteered with an NGO in one of the rural areas of the state and realised that there wasn’t a sustainable model in anything that happens in the rural side of the country. With a firm determination to change this condition, Tushar went back to his village in Karmala, Solapur, to spend some time with his family and come up with an idea to help improve the rural lifestyle. “It was then that I saw my grandmother stitching a ‘godhadi’ (quilt), her nimble hands working across the span of her old saris, all put together to create a warm quilt using a simple running stitch. This inspired me to look at the concept of giving a new life to godhadi and I decided to bring it out from the rural setting to the urban environment,” says Tushar Pakhare, an IT professional-turned-entrepreneur, one of the key members of MotherQuilts. 

The godhadi is a true family collage, for it brings together memories of the stitching old saris and heirlooms that are then passed on from generation to generation; from mothers to their children; in the form of a quilt, said Tushar. “Those were amazing days when my grandmother and other ladies of her age used to come together in the afternoon with their old saris and clothes and then put all the fabric pieces together to make a quilt. It was a tradition to reuse old saris in order to create nice warm quilts for their grandsons and granddaughters. It was more than a hobby or art; it was a necessity to provide the family with blankets. It was the yearly activity for all the women in the village,” said Tushar. 

The same concept has been tweaked by Tushar and his partner Neeraj Borate, who began travelling to nearby villages in search of such ladies who could still stitch a godhadi. “Now a days, people hardly have any time for indulging in such activities. Hence we started our initiative with a handful of old ladies from nearby villages and started taking orders,” said Tushar. The duo travelled over six months learning the craft and then created a training module with the help of like-minded and eager-to-learn women. This turned out to be a sustainable model for women and helped decrease unemployment in rural Maharashtra. “I started this initiative for socially, economically and politically backward and marginalised women,” added Tushar. 

Through the initiative, he focused on creating a working revenue model for illiterate women living in villages and for those who couldn’t go out of their houses to pursue jobs because of their cultural and family obligations. His first teacher was Yashoda Ajji (grandmother) a resident of Hadapsar, who he calls the treasure trove of stories and a quilt master who kept the art alive. 

Watching her stitch a godhadi was an art in itself and she selflessly taught the other women to re-create traditional designs by using a simple running thread. Tushar started his first unit with 30 women and trained 180 women in 2015. He created his first contemporary quilt in a village called Kalam in Baramati. “The quilt is essentially a legacy of three generation of women in the family, which is passed on through the godhadi they created,” he said. 

One such trained quilt maker is Archana Jagtap, who runs ‘Quilt Culture’ where she customises quilts according to the demands of the buyer. “New design, colour, size and fabric preferences are traditionally made and crafted using saris like Irkal, Jijamata and Narayanpethi to lay emphasis on Maharashtrian quilt aesthetics,” she said. The fillers that she uses are made of Nagpur cotton and only finishing touches are given using a sewing machine.

As the demand for quilts increased, Tushar thanks social media for giving him a platform to create more marketing ideas. He and his partner decided to use new fabrics and saris. “ Ideally, a godhadi is supposed to be recycled, but today’s generation prefers fresh fabric and saris,” said Tushar. He uses ‘Irikal’ saris and ‘Khan’ in his new quilt designs, which costs between ₹2,800 and ₹3,600 according to the size. “They are reminiscent of the way any grandmother would wear her sari with a khan blouse,” added Tushar.

First Published: Jan 28, 2018 16:49 IST

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