The Loom Industry in Sirajganj
Handlooming dates back to ancient times and was practiced in Chinese and Middle Eastern civilizations before it began in Europe. The use of the handloom is widespread in many developing countries. The city of Dhaka rose to importance in the 17th century when it was the Mughal capital of the Bangal province from 1608 to 1639 and again from 1660 to 1704. During that period it became known for the production of fine muslins that were made from handloom. Afterwards the handloom industry gradually became widespread in Bangladesh, where the environment was favorable. And then later it flourished in several places of Sirajganj.
Handlooms flourished in a lot of areas. In Shahjadpur thana: Monirumpur, Ruppur,Taltola, Pukur Par, Shantipur, Parcola, Zuggnidah, Jamirta, Kaijury, Habibullah Nagar, Gala, Kaimpur, Beltail, Jalalpur, Rupbati, Potajia, Khukni. In Belkuchi thana: Tamai, Betil and Shohagpur as well as Enayetpur, Ullapara, Kamarkhanda, Chowhali thana etc. There were three kinds of handlooms in those enriched handloom areas. These were Khatkhatia, Chittoranjon and Pitloom. Nowadays Khatkhatia is rarely found. This is the age of technology. It's influenced the handloom industry. Those machines that run with electricity are called power looms. There are 30,000 (thirty thousands) power looms in Sirajganj. The number is increasing every day. Technological advancements in looming assures that this will be needed. It won't vanish like other cottage industries.
Rather, it will be suitable for the modern age. But there has a harmful effect. It pollutes the air. It is 80% louder than handlooms. People are suffering from this pollution. Some are affected by conical diseases. They are suffering from hearing loss. They develop the habit of speaking very loud. If higher walls are built around the factories then this problem might be reduced. There are 1.5 lakh handlooms on which the livelihoods of 4.5 lakh workers depend. They make high quality lungis, saris and three-piece suits which are exported. Curtains, towels, bed sheets, scarves and blankets are also woven there. Exporting has stopped due to a lot of problems.
It must be noted that most of the hand looming work is done by women. Hand looming belongs to a small minority of industries where women are the majority of workers. Wholesale buyers are always making purchases of these products to sell in their outlets all over the country. Several hundred crores of merchandise are sold daily. Thus Sirajganj's loom industry plays a very important role in our national economy. This industry is deeply connected to Sirajganj's history. We should all help this industry out, so that it may exist and flourish in the years ahead.
(R) thedailystar.net 2007