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#Hope: A year after devastating floods, the Women Weavers of Garhwal to showcase their wares in London

Among the most tragic images from the floods that devastated parts of northern India in 2013 is one of the Kedarnath Temple, one of the holiest in Hinduism, situated in the picturesque town of Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, near the foothills of the Himalayas .

The image shows the badly damaged main temple building surrounded by tons of rubble that had been swept down the adjoining peaks, bodies strewn across its grounds.

Along with scores of pilgrims, hundreds of residents of the area perished in India’s worst natural disaster since the 2004 Tsunami.

The days and months since the disaster have been a living nightmare for many of the survivors as they rebuilt lives and communities across the Kumaon region.

But there’s been help.

The Kedarnath Temple in the aftermath of the 2013 flooding in Uttarakhand

Among the scores of organizations that have helped is Panchachuli, a cooperative of women weavers with long-standing roots in the region. 

Since October 2013 the Panchachuli Women Weavers of Kumaon have been engaged in teaching 300 women from Kedarnath in spinning and weaving.

The women are mostly widows from the flood disaster.

After a year of training, the women have produced a range of exquisite hand-loomed products in Cashmere and Lambswool, which are being sold through Panchachuli UK.

In celebration, Panchachuli UK, in association with Women India Association, are holding a week-long exhibition at Asia House in London.  Appropriately enough, the exhibition is named ‘Mandakini Women Weavers of Garhwal’: Mandakini is the name of the river which burst its banks causing havoc across Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Western Nepal. 

The women are perpetuating the ancient art of spinning and weaving which was first brought to the region many centuries ago.

These particular survivors have been trained under the aegis of Mukti Dutta, the campaigner and entrepreneur and the brains behind Panchachuli. 

The exhibition and sale is at Asia House from 25 November – 28 November 2014. 




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