Champa Biswas

In just 4 hours, a saree painted with birds or flowers

As a teenager, all Champa Biswas needed was some fabric paint, a few brushes and some cloth to give play to her imagination. A pastime she picked up from a neighbour soon became a hobby.

Champa had to drop out of school after Class 8. When she got married to Buddhadeb Biswas, a television mechanic, she did not have to worry too much about their family income. She had a daughter and got busy with domestic life.

As her daughter grew up (she cleared her Class 12 boards in 2020), Champa got restless and started painting again. This time, to make some money. A neighbour in her village Guptipara used to paint designs on cotton handloom sarees and taught Champa the tricks of the trade.

Six years ago, Champa got her first serious order: painting designs on a dozen sarees. As the orders became steady, Champa decided to take a loan and approached the Guptipara branch of Village Financial Services in Hooghly district.

Champa, now 38, gets orders from traders in Nadia, who give her the handloom sarees. She buys her paints and brushes locally as some other women are also into painting sarees, and another enterprising villager stocks their supplies in her shop.

Champa says she has no idea of the market price of the finished product; she gets Rs 400-700 for painting each saree. The traders give her the designs, which they sometimes get from their customers. The traders sell the sarees to showrooms or on portals.

She runs the business without any workers, but sometimes her daughter helps her. The business runs almost round the year. She takes three to four hours to paint the designs on a saree. Customers like motifs of flowers and birds.

The lockdown in 2020 had hit her business; things have improved now. Two other women in the village are in the same business, but there is enough work for everybody.

Published on May 7, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022