Did you know that our fabrics are dependent on the rhythm of the weather?

It is monsoon!
The smell of the mud, the cheers of children dancing in showers, the soft sound of drips or the thunderous roar of the clouds – yes, it is monsoon in India, the rainy season! It means a good amount of rain falling between June – September. The monsoon is the main provider of fresh water to the Indian subcontinent. As such, the flora, fauna, and entire ecosystems of these areas rely heavily on the monsoon.

The Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on the rains, for growing crops especially like cotton, rice, oil-seeds and coarse grains. For city-dwellers the monsoon showers provide relief from the extreme summer heat in June.

Valley of Flowers
Children enjoying monsoon showers
Rice paddies

Monsoon and culture
Monsoons also play a big role on diverse local cultures of India. The rain gods are always called upon, as rains are associated with prosperity, greenery and good crops. A lot of festivals are celebrated during the monsoon season and are a huge part of the social and cultural fabric of the country. So is the use of colors and patterns in Indian fabrics with their specific meanings.

In Rajasthan, every possible effort is made to bring color to the monotony of the deserts. One of the typical local tie & dye craft is leheriya, which provides hope to people, the hope that a ‘leher’ (wave of water) brings along… This tie-dye technique creates diagonal stripes on fabric, which resemble waves.

Leheriya tie-dye technique
Photo credit: arts and culture

Master craftsman Badshah Mian

This hope is communicated through this craft; men wearing the most colorful leheriya paghdis and safas (turbans) and women wearing leheriya dupatta’s and saris. They celebrate and welcome the monsoon through their dresses. In this season, women majorly wear the Samudra (ocean) leheriya, resembling colors of the oceans.

The economy of monsoon
Thinking about how we can buy everything at any time, and understanding under which circumstances our products are made, it is interesting to note that monsoon can show us the dynamics related to our goods.

  • The shortage of electricity supply becomes a major problem during monsoon, which also effects the production process. Power cuts make it difficult for artisans to work their normal hours. But also charging your phone, or laptop becomes a challenge, which most of us never have to think of.
  • The heavy rains affect the roadways of rural and semi rural regions, which connect to highways. The transportation of our goods is not easy and create great losses in the monsoon seasons.
  • Monsoon also impacts people’s health. It brings mosquito-borne, water-borne and air-borne infections. These include diseases such as dengue, malaria, cholera, and colds.
  • Also the price of of raw materials, such as cotton are dependent on the monsoon rain falls. With a bad rainy season, the price of cotton shoots up.

The rains in many ways make or break the economy. 

Monsoon and the craft sector
Monsoon not only affects the agricultural sector, but also has an impact on the second largest industry, the craft sector. Many artisans have to close their workshops during the monsoon season. The heavy rains do not allow to do much work.

As you know, Textiel Factorij works with many natural dyers and block printers across India. Printing is not possible because of the humidity and of course the fabrics cannot dry. It is a time for many artisans to take up jobs in the agricultural sector. For others it is time to relax. The artisans go out to watch the rains, the scenery and the filling lakes and dams.

So if you think about it, our fabrics are directly linked to the seasons of the year and weather patterns. Even the colors of the prints depend on the weather. For example printing with natural indigo, with humid air, the color will be lighter, than printing in winters. So, when working in India we need to consider the various cultural, social as well as weather circumstances.

If you are interested in a collaboration or have an idea to share, feel free to contact us.