Odisha’s ‘Karuna Silk’ Draws Attention At Delhi’s India International Trade Fair

Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s non-violent method to extract silk from the silkworms, breaking the traditional trend of silk production, is drawing attention of the visitors at New Delhi’s  India International Trade Fair (IITF) Pragati Maidan.

Promoting ethical and sustainable practises in the trade, the state weaves compassion, naming the product ‘Karuna Silk’.

Promoted by Govt of Odisha, skilled weavers from Routpada of Khordha districtare demonstrating their artistry live at IITF. The artisans, who make the holy ‘Khandua Patta’ of Lord Jagannath for generations, are now weaving the same exclusively from ‘Karuna Silk’.

“The Cruelty Free ‘Karuna Silk’, a new venture by Odisha, has become the USP at Odisha Pavilion this year. Visitors are taking a keen interest to know about this innovation story of ours,” said Sanjay Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary Information & Public Relations Department, Govt of Odisha. The department is the lead in conceptualising and setting of the state pavilion at the trade fair.

Silk is the strongest natural fibre in the world. It is produced by controlled rearing of silkworms till they spin themselves into a cocoon on their journey to becoming a silk moth. These ultra-soft fibers are generally harvested from the cocoon in their raw state by boiling in hot water containing the innocent silkworm inside.

“Our Chief Minister always promotes the idea of non-violence and desires that all the production processes follow the same. So we wanted to promote compassion by breaking the traditional method of ‘Filament Silk’ which kills the silk worms. In the new process, we let go of the moth honouring its life cycle,” said Shovan Krishna Sahu, Director, Department of Handlooms, Textiles & Handicrafts, Government of Odisha while narrating the story of transformation.

Odisha grows three types of silk – Mulberry, Tasar & Eri. Out of these, Eri silkworms are reared in this new and compassionate method under the brand name of ‘Karuna Silk’.

“When the moth flies away from the cocoon, it ruptures the fibre. Through the ‘Worsted Spinning Process’ we develop the silk fibre ready for dyeing & weaving. This humane process adopted by Odisha is being appreciated in the industry & beyond,” explained Mr Sahu, Director of the department, which anchors sericulture activities in the state.

Under Govt. of Odisha’s 5T initiative, ‘Karuna Silk’ was introduced as a pilot program involving about 700 sericulture farmers. This year, the department has been able to expand the initiative to 14 districts with 2500 silk farmers. The Eri silkworm is nurtured on castor plants.

“The Odisha Pavilion at IITF 2023 showcases unique and wide range of handlooms & handicrafts from the hinterlands of the state. The ‘Karuna Silk’ grown with Ahimsa is a novel and praiseworthy initiative,” said Davendra K Dhodawat, Addl Chief Secretary to the Governor, Govt of Kerala while visiting the event.

The ‘Khandua Patta’ used in Jagannath Temple, Puri is unique for Ikat design along with the verses from Geeta Govinda by poet Jaydev inscribed on it.

“We are happy to participate in the International Trade Fair supported by Govt of Odisha. We are thankful for this opportunity to spread the story of compassion through ‘Karuna Silk’ in front of the whole world,” said Ashok K Das, a participating weaver from Routpada in Khordha district.

A veteran weaver from the same community, Gopinath Das has a similar story to unveil at the Odisha pavilion.

As per trade information, a typical Mulberry silk saree is produced by killing 10,000-20,000 silk worms. Similarly, in the traditional process, 5000-7000 innocent silk worms lose their life in the making of a Tassar silk saree.

Odisha is a major silk producing state of India. With innovation of ‘Karuna Silk’, blending tradition with technology along with fostering compassion, Odisha is setting a new benchmark in sustainable fashion.

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