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Majid Bhai: Weaving a Legacy with LoomKatha

For Majid bhai, the art of Himroo weaving is not just a profession, it's a family tradition passed down through generations. He carries the torch of this exquisite craft forward, with his loom and years of dedication and expertise. His journey began in 1963, when he embarked on an apprenticeship under the tutelage of Ustaad Mohd Salim. For five years, he honed his skills, learning the intricate techniques of Himroo creation. By 1968, Majid bhai established himself as a respected weaver, weaving his creations for Aurangabad’s renowned handloom stores that had a booming business due to the tourists who flocked to the UNESCO heritage site of Ajanta nearby.

A Fight to Keep the Tradition Alive

However, Majid Bhai's journey comes with its own share of trials and tribulations. He was an active member of the Himroo Weavers Society in Nawabpura, Aurangabad. But when the business began to slow down due  to competition from powerlooms, the Society began to struggle and eventually shut down completely as weavers like him didn't have access to regular work. This wasn't a unique case; all 16 weavers from the society were forced to find alternative means of survival. Some became drivers or mechanics in the local market, while others had to take on odd jobs. This experience highlights the vulnerability of traditional crafts in the face of economic hardship.

Finding Hope with Babu Qureshi and Loomkatha

Despite the closure of the society, Majid Bhai's passion for Himroo remained strong. He continued to work at the  Qureshi karkhaana for nearly 22 years under Ahmed Syed Qureshi. When the karkhaana shut down he went on to work at a retail store in Aurangabad where his loom was a mere display prop to entice customers to visit the store. But even this store shut down during the 2020 lockdown and Majeed bhai was once more out of work. 

However, this adversity led to a new chapter unfolding in Majid bhai's weaving story. He joined us at LoomKatha where he received a stipend throughout lockdown thanks to our #kaamnotdaan insta campaign.  He says it was a turning point that revived his faith in Himroo's future. Here, he found himself collaborating with our team, creating beautiful and significant Himroo textiles for various collections. LoomKatha, he says, has not only provided him with a sustainable livelihood but also the opportunity to share his legacy with the world.

Passing on the Legacy

While Majid Bhai's children chose different career paths, not considering weaving as a viable option, his dedication to the craft continues. He takes great pride in training four other weavers who are also part of LoomKatha's team. These young weavers, children of his weaver peers who are no more, are being given the opportunity to learn this age-old craft and carry the tradition forward. Majid Bhai sees this as his way of keeping the ‘rooh’ (spirit) of  Himroo alive for future generations.

A Responsibility to Preserve History

Majid Bhai's commitment to his craft is further emphasized by his response when asked if he ever considered another profession. He simply said, 'औरंगाबाद की इस रिवायत को बचाकर रखना हमारी ज़िम्मेदारी है, इसके अलावा कभी कुछ और करने की इच्छा नहीं हुई' (It is our responsibility to preserve this tradition of Aurangabad, I never felt like doing anything else). This powerful statement underlines his deep sense of responsibility towards his heritage, which he feels, needs to be shared with the rest of the world.

Generations of Mastery

Majid Bhai is a third-generation weaver, and his passion for the craft is evident in his stories. He speaks fondly of the time he started learning how to weave and going for 'taleem' (apprenticeship) at the young age of 8. He even shared a fascinating anecdote from his family's history. His uncle had the honor of weaving the fabric for the film Mughal-E-Azam, specifically the one worn by the legendary actor Prithviraj Kapoor in his role as Emperor Akbar. This story not only illuminates the rich history of Himroo but also connects Majid Bhai to a legacy that extends to one of the most iconic films of the century.

The Pride in the Craft

Majid Bhai's expertise shines through when he talks about his weaving technique. He confidently states, "आप मेरा कपड़ा उठाओगे तो बता नहीं पाओगे कि हाथ का है या मशीन का" (If you pick up my fabric, you won't be able to tell if it's handwoven or machine-made). This reflects the immense pride he takes in the quality and intricate detailing of his work.

However, this pride is accompanied by a touch of disappointment. He feels that Himroo, despite its rich history and cultural significance, is not getting the recognition it deserves from the government. He believes this exquisite craft needs more exposure and appreciation. As he continues to weave his magic on the loom, one can't help but admire the various stories of intricate designs taking form, each thread carrying the weight of tradition and the promise of a brighter future for Himroo.

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