Dolls made of flood rags to lure funds for tattered handloom industry

Chekkutty doll
The doll, named 'Chekkutty', is made after disinfecting the clothes and threads stained by the floodwater.
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Arayankavu (Ernakulam): This little doll could personify the indomitable spirit of Kerala. Handloom workers of Chendamangalam have crafted a cute doll out of the clothes laid waste by the flash floods in August.

The doll, named 'Chekkutty' (a common name which has been interpreted as Child of Mud), is made after disinfecting the clothes and threads stained by the floodwater. They could be hung from rearview mirrors or window sills.

'Chekkutty' owes her existence to a couple of imaginative souls. Lakshmi Menon, a designer in the United States, and her friend Gopinath, a tourism entrepreneur in Kochi, chanced on the idea when they learned that the handloom unit would be burning piles of useless clothes.

Post deluge, handloom workers unleash flood of dolls
Designer Lakshmi Menon has turned her house at Arayankavu into a doll-making unit.

They bought five saris from the pile of rubbish for Rs 1,300 apiece. They roped in several students and youngsters who had volunteered in the rescue and relief operations during the flooded days. The team started making the dolls from Sunday. About 50 volunteers reached the Panampilly Nagar to make the dolls.

They crafted 360 dolls out of a single sari. If they manage to sell all of it at Rs 25 each, they could make up to Rs 9,000 from a sari that would have been burned away.

Proceeds from the sale would go towards the restoration of the handloom unit at Chendamangalam. The organisers have a grander design. They want the doll to be the face of survival.

The idea has struck a few chords. Several people, even from outside Kerala, have volunteered to make the dolls and to buy them.

Post deluge, handloom workers unleash flood of dolls
Proceeds from the sale of the dolls would go towards the restoration of the handloom unit at Chendamangalam.

Lakshmi Menon has turned her house at Arayankavu into a doll-making unit. She was joined by several relatives including her 94-year-old grandmother, Bhavani Amma.

Menon and team plan to procure more saris if they are ensured of government support. They have started a Facebook page and a WhatsApp group to promote the dolls.

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