Khadi is cloth that is hand spun and hand woven in India. The word 'khadi' or 'khaddar' literally means cotton according to its Sanskrit and Persian roots. But khadi may be made of cotton, silk or wool. The raw fibre is spun into thread using a traditional spinning wheel called a charka.
The khadi used in our products is fine, feathery soft, organic cotton from western India. The colours are completely natural dyes created from plants, fruits and seeds - these are lush, earthy colours, often richer than what can be achieved with synthetic dyes. Our khadi products include the blossom bag, the portable placemat and cutlery holder in gold and green, and the spork pouches in gold and green.
The cotton seeds used for our khadi are organic and thus not genetically modified. The cotton is grown without pesticides or herbicides, using natural biological growing practices to prevent pests while enriching the soil, protecting groundwater, and thus creating a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable product. Similarly, using biodegradable natural dyes derived from renewable, non-petroleum-based sources makes for a safer, less energy intensive dyeing process. Furthermore, khadi spinning and weaving, organic practices and natural dyeing all preserve traditional knowledge and techniques while providing employment for many rural people.
There is more.
Yes, there is much more to khadi than meets the eye. Khadi is not just a cloth. It is a movement representing freedom. In 1920s India, a wise - and now legendary - freedom rights activist named Mohondas Karamchand Gandhi called on his fellow citizens to embrace the charka and make their own khadi. This boosted rural self-employment and decreased reliance on industrially-made, imported British textiles. Khadi became an emblem of the Swadeshi - economic self-sufficiency - movement promoted by Mahatma Gandhi in seeking India's Swaraj: self governance through independence from British rule. Gandhi is revered universally for his unwavering commitment to freedom and peace through non-violent resistance. Martin Luther King, Jr. was deeply inspired by Gandhi's ideas and methods, which played a central role in King's advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world.
Here Gandhi shares his thoughts on the 'khadi spirit':
"If we have the 'khadi spirit' in us, we would surround ourselves with simplicity in every walk of life. The 'khadi spirit' means illimitable patience. For those who know anything about the production of khadi know how patiently the spinners and the weavers have to toil at their trade, and even so must we have patience while we are spinning 'the thread of Swaraj'.
The 'khadi spirit' means also an equally illimitable faith. Even as the spinner toiling away at the yarn he spins by itself small enough, put in the aggregate, would be enough to clothe every human being in India, so must we have illimitable faith in truth and non-violence ultimately conquering every obstacle in our way.
The 'khadi spirit' means fellow-feeling with every human being on earth. It means a complete renunciation of everything that is likely to harm our fellow creatures, and if we but cultivate that spirit amongst the millions of our countrymen, what a land this India of ours would be!
And the more I move about the country and the more I see the things for myself, the richer, the stronger is my faith growing in the capacity of the spinning wheel."
(Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, 22 September 1927)
Gandhi spinning on a charka at Sabarmati Ashram, 1925 --- Copyright: Vithalbhai Jhaveri/GandhiServe Foundation
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)
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