Taking the ‘Ahimsa’ route with silk

Taking the ‘Ahimsa’ route with silk

Kusuma Rajaiah follows the Gandhian principle of non-violence in his work.

Taking after the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Kusuma Rajaiah has created a way to follow the non-violence movement even in your dressing.

He is the only producer of Ahimsa silk, a silk that does not involve the killing of mulberry silk worms, but allows it to grow and finish its life cycle before their cocoons are harvested to make the fabric.
In a session at Tharangini Design Studio, Sadashivanagar over the weekend, Kusuma Rajaiah, shared his experience of how he came up with the idea. He is a graduate from the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology and has a strong grounding in this art. He says, “I have made saris, fabrics and scarves for numerous celebrities including famous FRIENDS actress Courteney Cox and UK’s former Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron.”

He elaborated about how he is the only maker of this silk and about his journey over the last 20 years. After he graduated with a diploma in Handloom Technology, he decided to take up the initiative of creating silk that not only makes you feel good physically, but also imparts good moral sense as well. Kusuma started his research by making samples till he finally perfected it in 2002. “Dr Somu Sundaram helped me a lot with this. He was a true guide and encouragement for me,” he added.

Being a different method of textile production, this type of silk takes longer to make, thus being a lot costlier than the commercial silk. Kusuma purchases the cocoons from the farmers and then shelter it until the worms become moths and die. This way, they live their entire life cycle which is a span of five to six days. Then, the hatched cocoons are taken and woven to create the fabric. The fibres are shorter than the commercial silk, thus giving it a cotton feel on touch.

Kusuma has a worldwide acclaim for his work in the textile industry. He has presented shawls to great personalities, including the Pope and Sonia Gandhi. Being a retired government official from Andhra Pradesh, this 63-year-old man wishes to carry forward his vision with even greater commitment to preserve it for posterity.