CHENNAI: Every time we head to a bus stand or go shopping to a busy area in any of the cities, one cannot miss out on the colourful chains, bracelets and other accessories made out of beads that are sold on platforms. These are hand-made accessories by Narikuravars, who have currently lost their livelihood due to the lockdown.
One such couple from the Narikurava community are R Thangarasu and his wife. Ten years ago, they decided to make money out their traditional art of making ornaments and turned into entrepreneurs. Over the years, the couple also engaged several other women outside their community in their business and provided a livelihood to them. However, the lockdown got no merry to this community and all the women, who were a part of making the accessories.
Thangarasu and his wife employed more than 200 women from villages in and around the Narikurava colony in Rajapalayam panchayat in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu. Though a few of these women are primarily agricultural labourers, they work from home during their free time and earn Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 by making ornaments.
Apart from Thangarasu, three other entrepreneurs — S Sekar, Kannappan and Panneerselvam — who are also from the Narikurava community had turned ornament making into a successful cottage industry. Nearly 2,000 women, who worked for Sekar, Kannappan and Panneersevam, in Mel Ravanthavadi panchayat and Chengam town are now jobless.
Gomathi, a mother of two children from Melravanthavadi worked for Thangarasu for the last four to five years. She said, “I earned close to Rs 2,500 per month by making 200 to 250 beads ornaments during my free time. This helped contribute to my family expenses and we used to save my husband’s salary for my kids’ school fees. Both my husband and I have lost the opportunity to earn and we are struggling to make both ends meet.”
Thangarasu explained, “We buy our beads from Varanasi and Mathura, the copper wire used to make the ornaments are from Salem. We make the accessories here and send them to neighbouring states and other major cities in the state. Now, everything has come to a standstill.”
Sekar said he had given Rs 2 lakh worth raw materials to over 200 women in Kayampattu, Thiruvallur Nagar, Kotangal, Valayambattu and Pallipattu before the lockdown. “The raw materials were given to make the ornaments. But there is no business now. I am also not in a position to pay wages to the women,” he said.