Weaving the fate of a thousand | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 27, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 27, 2011

Districts in Focus

Weaving the fate of a thousand

L-R: Kajal Rekha, A couple, Gurudas Adhikari and Tulshi Adhikary, in Kechhuadubi village in Magura, makes mats with dried meley plants. Photo: Hossain Seraj

Kechhuadubi, a village in Magura sadar, is home to around 180 families engaged in making mats with 'meley' plants and all of them are experts.
Earlier, most of the poor villagers had to struggle to earn their living as they had no lands and worked as sharecroppers. Poverty was a constant companion.
However, a story of success began in 1990, when Kajal Rekha, daughter of Sukumar Biswas of Nalia of Shalikha upazila, came to Kechhuadubi village as the newly married wife of Gour Chandra Adhikari.
Kajal, the pioneer in meley mat making in Kechhuadubi, said, “We were forced to live in extreme poverty and hardship.”
“Fortune smiled on us when my father, who has been engaged in weaving mats with meley plants, asked us to cultivate meley and make mats with those,” Kajal added.
“I brought some seeds from my father's house about 21 years ago and sowed those on the bank of the river Fatki in the Bangla month of Agrahayan, harvested them in Falgun, and began weaving mats with the dried plants,” she reminisced.
“As I was able to make my poor family better off with the job, many of the villagers were inspired with the achievement,” Kajal said.
Many of the mat weavers in Kechhuadubi village bless Kajal Rekha as her innovation helped them make their lives better.
“We owe Kajal, as her initiative has paved the way for a better living for us,” said Gurudas Adhikari.
People of all ages are now engaged in this traditional mat industry.
Gurudas Adhikari and his wife Tulshi Adhikari of the village have been engaged in making mats for about 16 years. They usually make three to four mats daily.
The dying river Fatki has given its last blessing to the riverside poor people of the villages as they now earn their living by cultivating meley on the bank of the river and making mats with those.
Thousands of mats made from dried meley plants are sold across the year in the adjoining districts such as Jessore and Jhenidah. Some even go to the capital Dhaka.
“Today, the weavers in the village see their success as a story of inspiration, the culmination of perseverance and dedication to the craft,” said advocate Shafikul Islam of the adjoining village of Moghi.
“This year, the weavers have been facing some difficulties due to increasing prices of thin rope and dyes. The government should extend patronisation and make soft loans available so that they can run the industry smoothly,” Shafikul said.

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