Tough times for Lucknow's Chikankari industry; State govt. plans virtual exhibition to support workers

Even the families living in the Dhobi Ghat locality, who used to earn by washing chikan clothes, are facing deeply doleful circumstances.

With roots in the culturally rich past of India, chikankari has been Awadh's shaan aur maan for decades now. Every Lakhnavi has at least one piece of chikan item in their wardrobe because the versatility of chikan clothing is simply unmatched. Be it a light flowy kurta for office or an intricately stitched saree for an evening function; chikan comes in handy during all occasions. The snaking bylanes of Gol Darwaza, has always been brimming with tourists and city folks and the constant haggling noises are a part of the shopping experience here. But since the time the pandemic has lashed out in the city, the chikankari industry has been hanging by a thread, leaving the karigars without any means of earning.

Corona's gloom looming over Shadow Work Embroidery

Tourists amount to the majority of buyers which the chikan stores record but since the outbreak of the coronavirus, tourism has taken a hit which has again, directly impacted the businesses and their employees. Although the chikan shops are open due to the ease in relaxations, there are hardly any customers now, in contrast to the regular crowding during the pre-covid era.

A huge chunk of chikan traders and craft-smiths shave been surviving on their past savings but if this slow to nil flow of consumers continue, many will be shutting their shops soon. The present situation has left karigars without jobs and minimum to no cashflow at all, which is causing a state of panic and desolation.

Even the families living in the Dhobi Ghat locality, who used to earn by washing chikan clothes, are facing deeply doleful circumstances. The upcoming festivities, which has always been an active source of income, is already leaving a gaping hole in the pockets of the traders. Additionally, the GST rules imposed on the chikan pieces have led to increased pricing of the products and a decline in sales.

One District One Product exhibition to propel cashflow

Although the state of affairs is nothing less than sombre for the chikan industry, the state government has been devising ways to keep the businesses afloat. The UP government is planning on organizing a 5-day international virtual exhibition of 'One District One Product' (ODOP) where chikan artisans will be allowed to display their products online. This exhibition which is a collaboration with FICCI and the Handicraft Export Promotion Council, will enable them to reach out to national and international buyers. The government is also set to provide financial assistance to the artisans, whose products will be selected.

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