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Patna, April 23 – A 68-year-old resident of Bihar’s Nalanda, who was living a life of anonymity till now, has been conferred the prestigious Padma Shri award after being associated with the textile industry for almost 50 years.
Kapil Dev Prasad, is a resident of Baswan Bigha village, which is about three kilometres from Nalanda district headquarters in Bihar.
Prasad has been associated with weaving since a young age. He is still doing the weaving himself and is also giving training to many people of the district.
Prasad said that he has been engaged in weaving for almost six decades but his fame in textile manufacturing came from Bawan Buti sarees and curtains.
He said: “Now the situation is bad because of the lack of marketing of all the sheets and curtains made by the weavers.
His family occupation has been handlooms.
Talking to IANS, he said: “It was started by my grandfather Shanichar Tanti. Then later my father Hari Tanti took it forward. And now my son Suraj Dev also helps in handloom work.”
Prasad said: The first President Dr Rajendra Prasad installed the curtains and bedsheets of the weavers of Bihar Sharif in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Prasad, however, is quite unhappy about the market. “Art is getting richer but its markets are getting limited.”
Till the year 2000, the curtains and bedsheets of Nalanda were sent to Germany, Australia and the US on behalf of Bihar State Export Corporation. After this, when there was a crisis in the corporation, the exports stopped.
Prasad said that at that time, a school for government weavers was running in Bihar Sharif. But in 1990, the school was closed.
He said that the Basavan Bigha Primary Weavers Co-operation Committee has been formed in which there are many weavers. But, due to non-availability of regular work, many weavers are now leaving.
Prasad is definitely worried, but not discouraged. He said: “Even today people appreciate Bawan Buti art. There is a need to market the art of the people associated with this, so that this ancient art can be saved.”
“The history of the handicraft Bawan Buti saree has been associated with the Buddhist period. The art of Buddhism is engraved in the Bawan Buti saree. Symbols like lotus flower, peepal leaves, Bodhi tree, bull, trishul, goldfish, wheel of Dharma are used in the designs,” he said.