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Handicrafts

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Introduction
Historically, the Varanasi or Banaras has been famous all along for its socio-economic and religious importance. It was famous as the religious city of the Hindu religion due to presence of Vishwanath Temple on the bank of river Ganga along with many other temples in the city’s vicinity, the ghats, the devotion, the meditation in the ashrams etc. The city is equally important as a Brocade weaving centre. It is believed that the weaving industry flourished during the Vedic period and touched its climax with the introduction of Mogul pattern of designs during early 16th century. Varanasi is famous and very well known throughout the country and world for Banarsi silk saris. The silk sari makers are specifically weavers’ community and their livelihood is completely depending on handloom weaving. The introduction of power looms coupled with enormous influx of Chinese silk traders has steadily overturned this community from their traditional livelihood but above all most of the families are hitherto struggling for their survival and existence. This profession of hand crafted silk saris in Varanasi has emerged as a family generation based work in many households in the city. Varanasi has, since times immemorial, been hailed as a leading center for some of the finest Indian handicrafts. The most renowned craft of Varanasi city is silk weaving. 'Banarasi Sarees', produced by local craftsman are among the most preferred, not only in India but also all over the world. Besides the famous Benarasi Sari, brassware, copperware, ivory work, glass bangles, wood, stone and clay toys and exquisite gold jewellery are some of the other crafts Varanasi city is famous for. Among the other shopping attractions of Varanasi and surrounding areas are the Bhadohi Carpets and musical instruments. Varanasi is renowned for ‘Banarasi Saree’ which is a world famous, most elegant and prestigious Indian costume woven by the laborious weavers’ community. This is also a symbol of an age old Indian Tradition. If we look some 12 years back, a handloom saree weaver was known for his traditional skills, uniqueness, social recognition and financial soundness. The Union Government of India still accepts that Indian handloom is the largest handloom industry in the world; it produces 16% of total cloth production in India (which is no doubt a substantial quantity). It is also widely accepted by Government that handloom Industry is second largest employer in the country fallowed by the Agriculture sector. There are approx 65 lakhs of low income group people are directly or indirectly employed in this sector. Varanasi is one of the largest weaving clusters in Indian that posses more than 50 thousand handlooms and about 2.5 lakh weavers. Saving –credit groups of the weavers are formed to empower them socially and economically and further these groups were linked to clusters as per their geographical distribution for creating a wider platform for sharing and strategic planning. The handicraft industry in Varanasi is world famous and has no alternative. The finest piece of hand weaven clothing of Varanasi is the famous Banarasi Sari, Shawl and many other clothing. This industry was and always will be a family clan and generation based profession for the weavers. The handicrafts of Varanasi are sent nationally and internationally and have a much respected presence in the clothing, garment-wear industry.

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