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All Journeys start from an idea, sustain on a heavy dose of dreams and successfully continue with knuckle bending sheer determination. Kalingarup is one such Journey of a middle class Odiya girl with a flair for philanthropy who got married in a family of textile manufacturers in Ludhiana. A homemaker, a mother of two, a travel enthusiast, a business woman and a philanthropist at heart; Ms Rupashi Wadhawan has donned many a mantles with poise.
Even though she was CEO and chief designer for her Powerloom Sai Knitfab, the pull of her ancestral roots towards traditional handlooms and handicrafts of Odisha kept her gingerly waiting for the opportune moment to return to her homeland, the land of Lord Jagannath, Puri.
In 2013, while visiting her paternal relatives in Odisha, she came in touch with Mrs. Rosalin Patsani Mishra, Founder and Head of Parichay Foundation, Bhubhneshwar. Being an Odiya girl and having spent her childhood in these villages she earnestly got enrolled and quickly rose in ranks to become the Punjab Head and an Executive Committee Member of this foundation working for the upliftment of traditional tribal weavers and artisans of Odisha.
Her father was an Indian Airforce Officer and used to bring her to these villages to meet relatives and friends. But as a homemaker and businesswomen, she started visiting the houses cum workshops of weavers working on the Ikat weaving loom (Tanta) in 2016 in and around, Raghurajpur and Nuapatna; she was appalled by the plight of these highly skilled workers. She found many looms gathering dust, the men of the house having migrated to cities for search of work and the women folk operating majority of these weaving looms. The irony was that the product made by these weavers was of international standards but was unable to sustain even in the local market competing with the cheaper product of the powerlooms. She took it upon herself to get the hand weaved sarees, hand painted dupatta, pattachitra paintings, leaf paintings, stone carvings and even the daily use items hand painted with natural colours for decorative purposes; to sell in new markets of Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Maharashtra and directly pay the profits to the artisans.
She spent more than a year in Odisha, interspersed with visits home, understanding the intricacies and delicate nature of the entire process of producing the yarn, growing silkworms to produce silk, weaving the thread into a saree, preparation of natural colours for paintings, and the generations of experience that went into the final product. The work was painstakingly slow, required her constant presence in the vicinity of these weavers and unweathered by the handicaps of her near fatal accident in 2015; she started putting up the products in exhibitions in consumer friendly towns like Nashik, Chandigarh, and Ludhiana. Self Funding her travel, procurement of raw material, finished products was tough. Driving long distances, towing her products across state boundaries, setting up markets from scratch was never going to be easy, but it did not deter her spirit.
The cyclone Fani which disrupted the lives and livelihoods of lakhs of people prodded her to founding of Kalingarup, as an outreach arm of Parichay Foundation. The COVID 19 Pandemic was the watershed line in the lives of everyone and she helped numerous families in these villages to keep their kitchen going and providing livelihoods by selling their craft unhindered by the lockdown.
Over the last 2 years more than 50 Weavers, artists and sculptors were adopted by Kalingarup, an enterprise that started on basic instincts of sharing and caring has now matured into a full time endeavor enthusiastically instrumental in welfare of traditional odisan artisans and their economic upliftment.
Kalingarup is a doorway to the plethora of artisan and weavers of Odisha and a platform that believes in
Supporting The Very Hands That Weave A String Of Thread Into An Attire Of Beauty.