Director of handloom urges Textile Ministry to stop production of ‘Leirum Phee’ in Barabanki, UP

A textile manufacturing unit in Uttar Pradesh started producing the traditional cloth in bulk after renaming it as ‘Modi Gamcha’.

Director of Handloom and Textiles, Manipur on Saturday appealed to the development commissioner of Handloom, Ministry of Textiles government of India to take necessary steps to immediately stop the production of Manipur traditional ‘Leirum designed Lengyan’ (muffler) in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh in the interest of weavers and sentiments of the people of Manipur.

In a letter, the director stated that the Prime Minister of India wore the traditional Manipuri ‘Leirum designed Lengyan’ or ‘Leirum Phee’ while addressing the nation on August 15, 2019 and when he announced lockdown 2.0 on April 14.

The production of traditional ‘Leirum Phee’ originally began in 9-10th century during the reign of Manipur king Loyumba in 1074-1112 AD, it stated. The ‘Leirum Phee’ is purely woven on handloom and used mandatorily on marriage ceremonies of the Meitei community in Manipur, it added.

At present, the production of the more popularised ‘Leirum Phee’ started with a joint meeting of Sub-Committee on Publicity and Northeast Expo held in connection with 1st India ASEAN Motor Car Rally in 2004.  The meeting decided to explore the possibility of state’s handloom cloth ‘Leirum’ design made with 100 percent cotton yarn as gift items to car rallyist and organisers depicting the ethnic product of Manipur, it said. Accordingly, the ‘Leirum Phee’ design was officially used in 1st India ASEAN Motor Car Rally 2004. Following that event, the Leirum Phee has been used as symbol of Manipur in every occasion, it added.  

On Saturday, ANI news has broadcasted a video on production of Manipur ‘Lengyan’ on a power loom in a textile manufactured unit in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. The video attracted objections from local weavers and it has also hurt the sentiment of the general public, it said.

Therefore, department of Handloom and Textiles of Manipur drew attention of the Ministry of Textiles to explore the possibility to safeguard the interest of weavers and people, the letter mentioned.

Meanwhile, all club organisations, associations and Meira Paibi Lup, ACOAM-Lup, Kangleipak, AMESCO, HERICON have lambasted the department of Handloom and other handloom clusters over its negligence to the value of the ‘Leirum Phee’ for such a long time.

The said organisations mentioned in press releases that when the Prime Minister of India wore ‘Leirum Phee’, there were views expressed from various sections on the recognition of Manipur’s culture by PM but the department concerned had never considered protecting the traditional cloth until a textile manufacturing unit in Uttar Pradesh started producing it in bulk after renaming it as ‘Modi Gamcha’.

In response to the public reaction, the Directorate of Handloom and Textiles, Manipur issued a notice that a meeting on ‘Leirum Phee’ and registration of handloom and handicraft under geographical indication of goods (registration and protection) act, 1999 will be held on June 1 at New Secretary, North Block in presence of minister of textiles, commerce and industry, Manipur.

First Published:May 31, 2020, 10:29 p.m.