Exploring Khadi through the Peti Charkha!

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The Fashion Design Students of IIAD – Class of 2020 got the opportunity to explore the intricacies of Khadi as a part of their Level 5 module “The Denim Project”.

In the Denim Project module, students get the opportunity to question materiality by exploring Khadi denim from spinning to dyeing and finally to the various washes & finishes. They acquire in-depth understanding of production methods, construction techniques and advanced technologies involved in the manufacturing of a denim garment.

Restore the spinning wheel to its place and you will solve the problem of poverty.

~ M.K. Gandhi

Khadi and its significance dates back to India’s history with the British during the Freedom struggle. The advent of British Raj in India encouraged the British industrial cloth in India. With this, the development of Khadi, a hand woven material, was boosted in India by Mahatma Gandhi in order to lessen the dependency of Indians on British Industrial goods. The “Charkha”  or spinning wheel, is symbolic of the physical embodiment of Mahatma Gandhi’s constructive movement.

The Khadi sessions at IIAD were held at the beginning of the Denim Project. These sessions were conducted by Experts from the Gandhi Ashram, Delhi at our campus. They took a week long workshop with students on how to spin cotton. The primary objective of the Khadi sessions  was to orient the Fashion Design students to the world of Khadi with a hands-on experience on the intricate technique of creating yarn from cotton.

The students were provided “Peti Charkha” by the trainers from the Gandhi Ashram. Yerwada or Peti charkha is an efficient, portable model that Gandhiji had devised during his time in Yerwada Jail. Unlike the Amber charkha, the Yerwada model is compact and folds into a wooden box. Students first learned to work with the small spindle and were then taught the Peti charkha. They were given the task of spinning 500 metres of cotton yarn using the Peti Charkha. After acing the art of spinning yarns, students went a step further and during their visit to Arvind Mills, they got the yarns dyed in Bhuj, Gujarat.

The Khadi workshop was led by Sachin Sachar, an exhibition designer by profession. Sachin Sachar is a design practitioner involved with Exhibitions, Installations, Museums and various other thematic design domains. Sachin currently works as an Independent consultant and he looks at exhibitions as a means of making an inquiry into the Indian culture. However, his expertise is not just limited to Exhibition Design. With his extended interests in looking at material-driven design process over the years, he has also been extensively involved in creating installations in collaboration with craft persons.

The Charkha represents Gandhi’s ideals to ensure our country’s progress by empowering the poor and the oppressed. Gandhiji believed that spinning of the Charkha will make the Indians self-reliant and ensure economic equality. Now PM Modi has taken a pledge to create job opportunities through “Solar Charkhas” which will be operated by harnessing solar energy. These charkhas have started operating in the Khanwa Village of Nawada District in Bihar and this is also being implemented in other villages too.

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