Final-year students of IIT-B can weave own convocation scarfs

Convocation ceremonies play a very important role in every graduating student’s life, and it will be more special for students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay as they will get to weave their convocation scarfs in a handloom. The idea is to keep India’s rich textile tradition of handloom alive by introducing the age-old practice to the new generation. Interested students at the premier institute will have to register for the programme starting this month. They will have to dedicate five hours per week for a month to learn the basics of weaving. The convocation scarf or ‘Uttariya’ as they call it in IIT-Bombay will be made under the supervision of a professional handloom weaver. Earlier in 2019, one student had woven the convocation scarf.

The National Salt Satyagraha Memorial, in Dandi, which was set up in honour of satyagarhis, who participated in Gandhiji’s march against the Salt Tax witnessed huge contributions from IIT-Bombay in design and coordination. As Gandhiji practised spinning and took a keen interest in handlooms, a weaving studio was set up at the IDC School of Design at IIT-Bombay in 2019, after the memorial was inaugurated. Over the last few years, students and faculty at IIT-Bombay have been introduced to spinning and weaving. IDC also offers an elective course to students of design.

However, the plan to take it ahead by opening the studio for interested final-year students to weave their convocation scarf was put on hold due to the pandemic. “Before this, only one student from the IDC School of design had weaved her ‘Uttariya’ out of curiosity,” said Professor Raja Mohanty from the IDC School of Design at the IIT-Bombay.

Now, as this new initiative is launched for students across courses at the IIT-Bombay, the studio at the IDC School of Design is extended to three rooms, each dedicated to a different colour of the loom – green, blue and red. These colours signify the degree the student is going to get from the IIT Bombay, Undergraduate (UG), Postgraduate (PG) and PhD, respectively.

Fifty students have already registered for the initiative while the IDC School of design expects the number to go up to 100.

“Handloom weaving is not at all an easy process. There are several tasks, especially steps such as bobbin winding and warping, attaching warp yarns on looms all need to be done professionally. Therefore, we have a professional weaver available in the studio as students will not be able to complete the entire process on their own. The convocation scarf is around 1.5-metres long. For a professional weaver, it would take two hours to weave. Whereas we expect registered students to spend 20 hours, spread across a month to complete the project,” said Professor Mohanty.

He added that his colleague Latha Tummuru and Maruthi Rao, a professional weaver from Andhra Pradesh who is currently on campus, are associated with this initiative.

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