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Temple flowers give a pop of colour to khadi clothes

Did you know that leaves of the Mahabodhi tree inside the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya town of Bihar cost anywhere between Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000? The reason why the fallen leaves are considered so precious is because Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under that tree. Realising the temple's significance, 33-year-old Praveen Chauhan, embarked on a journey to pursue two goals – recycle waste and promote the use of Khadi in international market. He decided to manage the temple's waste by converting floral waste into natural dyes and increase Khadi sale by banking on people's sentimental value towards the flowers and leaves of the temple.

Being a part of the traditional textile industry, Praveen undertook professional trips all over India in the last five years and realised the abundance of talent and skills people possess. He also came to the conclusion that khadi, despite being an Indian fabric, is hardly purchased by people. Besides, in most of the places where khadi is manufactured, women are employed to weave it. It was in 2017 when he finally shortened his work trips and decided to set-up the khadi business in Bodh Gaya. An alumnus of National Institute of Fashion Technology in Bengaluru, Praveen and Kathy, founder of 'Because of Nature' got a chance to showcase their khadi clothing line at the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai in 2017. That was when Praveen first converted floral waste into natural dyes and soaked the khadi handloom in them. The duo received a positive response from people and all the clothes displayed at the fashion week were sold at high prices. As Praveen was travelling from Mumbai to Bodh Gaya post the fashion event, he decided to take up sustainable fashion at a large scale by involving underprivileged women of his own town. He first signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) to reuse 200 kilos of temple's flowers that are discarded every day.

Five women from the organisation visit the temple every morning, collect the temple waste and bring it a small cluster 6 kilometres outside the town. The marigold flowers are segregated colour-wise and kept for drying. Once dried, the flowers are ground by using hands and then kept for boiling. Mordanting (a method where a mordant or dye fixative is used to set dyes on fabrics) is the next step. Before drying the fabric, it is covered with amla juice and washing soda. Depending on the skill of the dyer hundreds of shades can be produced on Khadi from marigolds. From women's clothes to robes used by the Monks, MATR manufactures several khadi garments and most of them are sold internationally as these are expensive. 10 per cent of the money earned on Khadi sales go to the Bodhgaya Temple and the rest is divided among Praveen, Kathy and the women.


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