• Team MMB

Women Entrepreneur Sews Dreams True: Fabric to Life

Spearheaded by Avantika Haflongbar, ROOHI is a unique project emerging from NC Hills that hopes to bring Dimasa textiles and craftsmanship to the forefront. Vivid colours and intricate patterns define the textiles of NC Hills’ Dimasa Cachari tribe. ROOHI, a new label based in Haflong, showcases these traditional weaves in a contemporary avatar.

Among the oldest tribes of the Northeast region, the Dimasa Cachari community remains hidden from the public eye. A large number of Dimasas live in Assam’s North Cachar (NC) Hills, whose headquarter is a hill station named Haflong. While the Dimasa traditional beverage Judima was recently in the news, having qualified for GI certification, a social enterprise based in Haflong wants to showcase the tribe’s textile heritage.

Avantika, a Jamia Milia Islamia graduate, worked in the social service sector and lived in Delhi for 12 years before returning to Haflong, where she grew up. In this quiet and beautiful town, she collaborated with her husband Daniel Langthasa to start an NGO called TRYST Network. Her love for traditional textiles led Avantika to starting ROOHI, a label that works with local craftswomen to reinvent traditional textiles and motifs.

The traditional textiles of the Dimasas have remained unnoticed through the decades. And it’s a pity, considering the vibrant colours and intricate weaves that characterise the local fabrics. The lack of a commercial model or infrastructure has only served to keep the fabrics under wraps.

There are other challenges. Dimasa women were mandatorily meant to learn the art of weaving, but the number has steadily fallen over the years. “Our generation only has a handful of weavers in the making as this art is generally passed down from mother to daughter at a very young age,’ Avantika says. “But in recent times these scenarios are ceasing in the villages too. Children are being sent away to cities for higher and better education and the interest or desire to work on a loom is sadly dwindling.”

Dimasa textiles are known for their bright colours, and at ROOHI these textiles are reinvented in contemporary ways. We think that the fabric look brilliant, what are your thoughts on it? Share this news story with your friends and let them know the vividness of culture that comes out of small tonwships! Tag us while you do that, @ManuheManuhorbabe1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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