Lunkaransar, the cotton county

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I find no other fabric as comfortable and durable as pure cotton, though it is a tough task to find the real thing among hoards of imposters. Many shopkeepers and fabric sellers would try to convince you that cotton-mix is same as pure cotton, and it is easy to get fooled by them. I learned identifying cotton fabrics from my mother, whose one look and touch was  all that was required to pass the judgement. She later took to another way — burning loose threads at the end of the fabric and determining whether it was cotton or synthetic based on what the ashes looked like. I am yet to come to that stage. 🙂

Many regions of India are known for its cotton weavers and high quality cotton made by them, and I was thrilled to be able to visit one such place.

On a recent trip to Bikaner in Rajasthan, I was told that a place called Lunkaransar, about an hour away on National Highway 15, supplys to some of my favourite clothing brands like FabIndia. So it wasn’t long before my husband and I were on our way to Lunkaransar.

A bit of research on the internet told me that weavers in Lunkaransar are promoted by Umrul and Vasundhara Grahmothan Samiti and it has been decades since weaving has become a source of additional income in this draught-hit area.

Cotton yardage I picked up form Lunkaransar.
Cotton yardage I picked up form Lunkaransar.

So on National Highway 15, at the end of the salt lake and about 2 kms short of the Railway station, they have a tiny shop in front of a petrol pump and sell handmade cotton fabric, garments and embroidaried bags made by weavers of Lunkaransar. I saw the cotton yardage which they sell there which is of top quality (I can totally visualise them as kurtas in FabIndia or Anokhi) and was available for Rs120 per metre.

I bought a lot of stuff and my total bill was just Rs 1000 (me happy, husband super happy). I felt very good that weavers of this town would get a majority of what I spent today, especially when they really don’t get a fair price when their products are bought by multinational companies.

Two days later, Dastkar’s Facebook page had a piece of news about Lunkaransar’s weavers attending an entrepreneur’s workshop which taught them essential business skills. That is indeed a great step.

They could start with advertising about their Lunkaransar outlet in a better way — no need to spend a lot of money on it as all they would need to o is make a visually appealing Facebook page. They should choose a catchy name first as there is a lot of confusion among the tourists and outstation customers about this… is it Urmul or is it Vasundhara Gramhmothan Samiti? Tags on readymade garments say Urmul, but the sign board of their outlet says the latter in bold letters.

Also, they need to go beyond simply making kurtas and tops. Experimenting with other designs might bring out amazing results, like palazzo pants, skirts, light jackets or even long designer dresses with some fancy embroidery. So there, that’s all a user like me can think of at the moment. I leave the rest to professionals.

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