We all go through those days – the days of fear and uncertainty. Those dreadful days would sweep us off the ground and leave us to do or die. Severe floods hit Kerala from August 9, 2018 resulting in the loss of many lives, properties and dreams. Some people let go and others refused to give in and held on to any ray of hope they found. Chekutty is the ray of hope to the handloom weavers of Chendamangalam, Ernakulam district.
The floods destroyed the weaving units of Chendamangalam and washed away their stock and raw materials. 600 weavers lost their source of livelihood. An initiative by social entrepreneurs, Lakshmi Menon and Gopinath Parayil, chekutty is a doll upcycled from the Chendamangalam handloom sarees that were destroyed during the Kerala floods. A six-meter saree is chlorinated, boiled and disinfected to craft 360 dolls.
The production and promotion of chekutty is crowdsourced. With volunteers from 9 countries and 250 chekutty making workshops conducted, the production of this symbol of hope for Kerala is gaining momentum. The money from the sales goes to the Karimpadam Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society.
Chekutty dolls gained popularity even before production. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan, called chekutty, the symbol of Kerala that overpowered the crisis. Chekutty has scars, chekutty has stains. Chekutty is each one of us who survived the floods. Chekutty, the mascot of rebuilding a better Kerala, represents our unity, solidarity and resilience.
Kerala Literature Festival, 2019 stands in solidarity with the dreams of Chendamangalam weavers. We are distributing chekutty dolls as a complimentary gift for the speakers at KLF 2019. Each chekutty gives a new lease of life to the weaver’s community.