She asked him, “Have you made any saree which had not resulted in the killing of any silkworms?” Perplexed at this question from Janaki Venkataraman, the wife of the former President of India, R. Venkataraman, the government servant from Hyderabad was set thinking.
Kusuma Rajaiah immediately began his research work on producing silk the Gandhi way.
Ahimsa silk was thus born. Inspired by the father of the nation-The Mahatama. The name itself brings forth a calmness in your being.
Kusuma Rajaiah-The Man Behind Ahimsa Silk
How is Silk Made?
A silkworm called Bombyx Mori is what helps make this one of its kind silk. When the cocoons are 10 days old, they are known to be of the finest quality. At this time they are killed either by steaming them or dropping them into the hot boiling water. This is done before they metamorphose into a moth. If this is not done then the fiber loses its continuity.
How is Ahimsa Silk Made?
Kusuma worked hard on this very aspect and stage. He wondered what would happen if the cocoons were not dropped in the hot water as was the norm?
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The visionary man then went to Chittoor. He purchased cocoons from the mulberry farms there. He got them back to his residence in and put them in huge cane baskets. It is here that he reared the yellow colored cocoons. Within 8 to 10 days, moths emerged.
He reckoned that adult moths have a 4-day short lifespan. It is during this time that they mate and die a natural death. He pierced the cocoons to spin them into yarn, which was then woven into fabrics.
The ahimsa way. The peaceful, nonviolent way.
Ahimsa Silk is Expensive
This silk is a little more expensive than many others and rightly so. Care is taken not to harm the silkworms and let them die naturally as per their life cycle. The process takes 10 extra days for the larvae to grow and the moths to hatch out of the cocoons. This results in the price doubling compared to the regular silk.
Ahimsa silk may lack the shine of regular silk, but are comfortable to wear. Also, it is wrinkle-free and with a much better fall.
Fortunately, a large community of conscientious people is supporting Ahimsa silk, working relentlessly towards the welfare and rights of animals and non-humans. It also appeals to religions like Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, who follow the non-violent way of life.
Not only are sarees and fabric available in Ahimsa silk, but one could also get scarves, mufflers, stoles, dupattas, shawls as also curtains, cushion covers, bedspreads, throws, mats, runners and rugs in innumerable colors and designs.
Hats off to Kusuma Rajaiah for bringing to the Indian art, craft, fabrics and weaves- the cent percent eco-friendly-Ahimsa silk.