Tripura tribal woman weaving bridal wear

Gunjali Tripura

Tripura woman chooses to be her boss

Gunjali Tripura, 30, dropped out of school after Class 10 and then broke the usual rural tradition of getting married or being married off. Instead, she has become a weaver, making wedding dresses for tribals.

After completing Class 10, Gunjali, a resident of Sachiram Bari Village, spent a few years helping her family with their work at a nearby natural rubber plantation. The government had planted some rubber trees for the tribals. Gunjali’s family and others tap the trees and process the latex.

Gunjali also picked up weaving from friends and neighbours. One day, she decided to start her own weaving business. She turned up at the Jolaibari branch of Village Financial Services and took a loan of Rs 25,000. She used the money to buy the yarn that is used to weave the pashras or wraps that Tripura’s tribal women wear.

She buys the yarn from the Jolaibari and Kalachara markets. She focuses on the special pashras that women wear for their weddings.

Gunjali claims she earns an average of Rs 18,000 a month. There are no seasonal variations since weddings among tribals do not depend on any almanack dates. They can get married at any time of the year.

Each of her dresses costs Rs 6,000 to Rs 20,000. She makes silk pashras as well as ordinary pashras. The pashra, a wrap used in cold weather, can be of cotton or eri silk.

Her family members help her but it still takes nearly a fortnight to complete one bridal dress.

She does her weaving on the bamboo looms used by tribals. The yarn she used costs Rs 1,000-1,500 a kilogram, while the zari or decorative golden fibre costs Rs 200 a kg. Gunjali needs nearly 3kg of yarn to make a single pashra.

Published on Nov 8, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022