Age: Around 45 to 47
Occupation: Current - bandhmaker; previous: farm labourer
Date of Interview: 16/02/12, Mandvi
A very gentle and soft-spoken woman, Hawabai Ibrahim Sumra politely permitted us to record her experiences working in the bandhani craft. She told us that unlike many others, she did not enter the craft in her childhood but came to it later, in her twenties, following her marriage. Before this, Hawabai worked as a daily labourer (known as a moll in Kachchhi). She learnt how to tie bandhani from others and has now passed on those skills to her granddaughter, Kajbai, who also does the same work. In the absence of the parents, Hawabai brought up her granddaughter, who is now a teenager. Hawabai added that she believed passing on the skill of bandh tying would be beneficial for her granddaughter’s future independence. She told us that many women from her quarter (or fadio) work in the same profession, and are employed by the wholesale firm of Kadarbhai. The women tie whenever they are not engaged in their household work. For Hawabai, the afternoons are especially important to spend a few precious hours to focus on the work. Coming from a poor background, her bandhani work is an important source of income for Hawabai and all the other women in her fadio. This part-time profession earns Hawabai around 450 Rupees a fortnight; although if she works quickly her monthly earnings can reach 1,500 to 1,800 Rupees. She explains that the girls who are new to the profession begin by doing scattered single bandh called bhindi and regularly change their thread. Once they master the art, they tie numerous bandhs with a single thread. The girls start to learn the work while still of school-going age, and by the time they are in their late teens many of them are quick and proficient tiers.