The recent Kerala floods brought devastation along the length and breadth of the state. Only the lucky were saved. Chendamangalam of Cochin district was famous for its weaving community. The floods mercilessly threw the weavers totally out of gear by washing away their means of livelihood. Looms, yarn, spindles and homes were all gone. The aftermath was heart wrenching. A tradition of weaving had been washed away. But the people with their indomitable spirit are working hard with aid from the government and the assistance of well wishers to rebuild the weaving industry. To make a new start, to reestablish themselves and get past the tragedy is what they are striving for today.
Two entrepreneurs Lakshmy Menon and Gopinath Parayil have begun a unique project where they make Chendamangalam dolls, called Chekutty dolls in short, from the soiled and ruined cloth and garments found there. The Chekutty website says, ’A mascot of the emerging Keralam, being rebuilt through our solidarity, resilience and beauty of hearts despite some of the stains and scars that will remain in our hearts…’
With a single sari up to 360 Chekutty dolls can be made. Money from their sales goes towards the Chendamangalam Handloom Weavers’ Cooperative Society. A doll sells for Rs.25 and has become a popular symbol of the resilience and spirit of Kerala.