Krya Saturday Update: 5 New products and a dark brown shade

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

It has been a super busy week at the Krya factory. The Hair Color project is in full swing, creating several shades of browns and reds. Our brown shades have come out spectacularly well, and we owe it all to some fine sleuthing and sourcing of high quality raw material by our purchase team.

More about hair colors and herbs that dye hair

Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria), a traditional Indian herb used both to dye fabric and hair and in Ayurvedic indigoformulations to reduce fungal infections is a leguminous herb. The use of Indigo to dye fabric is reputed to be at least 9000 years old!

Indigo leaves contain a colorless substance called Indican. When these leaves are powdered / crushed and soaked in water and partially fermented, the Indican molecule breaks down to Beta-D-glucose and Indoxyl.  It is the Indoxyl molecule that migrates from the indigo paste and binds to the Keratin on hair to dye hair.

henna flowerHenna (Lawsonia inermis) is another traditional dye producing plant used for hair and for body art. Henna is extremely cooling, and strongly anti fungal in action, so it is used variously in Ayurveda to treat heat conditions and fungal infections. In the recent Chennai floods of 2015, Krya manufactured and distributed herbal anti fungal powders to those who waded in dirty flood water to prevent infections – this fungal powder contained Triphala and Henna – 2 powerful anti bacterial and anti fungal herbs.

 

Henna is generally grown as a hedge row plant in arid and semi arid regions to prevent plants from being blown away of destroyed by the strong, sandy wind. Fully grown henna leaves contain 0.3 – 3% of a pigment called Lawsone – it is this Lawsone pigment, that migrates from the henna leaf to your hair to dye it.

A combination of these dyeing plants and additional herbs like the Indian gooseberry, Eclipta alba (Bhringaraj), and other hair nourishing herbs like Terminalia chebulia / Harad, went into our dark brown shade.

The extent of dyeing depends upon the high quality of herbs used – so if we used Henna leaves with Lawsone pigment percentage of .3%, it would obviously leave a much lighter shade compared to using something that has, say a 3% Lawsone content.

We tried about 6 different combinations of herbs to achieve a deep, natural brown-tending-towards-black shade on pepper and salt hair – the results are there for you to see in the picture.

This week also saw us completing a few pending products – we finished making our damage repair Hair wash and our damage Repair Hair mask to go with our very popular damage repair hair oil.

The Krya Hair Damage Repair system – now with a Hair wash & a Hair Mask

Severely chemically treated hair becomes extremely porous because of multiple injuries to the hair cuticle. hair damageWhen tested in water, this kind of hair will absorb water and sink to the bottom as its porosity allows water to invade the hair. In this state, hair is vulnerable to the many chemicals that are applied on it and will absorb all of them increasing damage. Colors also permanently damage the hair shaft as they lift the cuticular structure and inject chemicals like PPD inside the hair shaft to ensure the hair color stays longer without getting washed out. (The lack of this kind of chemical in natural hair colors is why they wash out much faster from your hair compared to your salon brand of hair color).

Chemically damaged hair also contains a layer of toxins on the scalp as this kind of hair is regularly coated with synthetic conditioners and treatments to artificially smoothen it and “condition” it externally.

Because of the permanent nature of the damage wrought by chemical treatments, we have to ensure that the existing hair is conditioned and boosted with moisture so that it is more manageable and new growth is stimulated with better nourishment being given to new hair growth to ensure the hair is stronger. The regenerative capacity of hair of course depends upon the body’s state of health and the food being eaten.

The Krya Damage repair Hair wash for severely damaged hair uses a different mixture of herbs compared to our other hairwash products. In order not to damage the cuticular structure further, the Hair wash is sifted much finer than usual. We use a high proportion of shine enhancing, repair and nurturing herbs like Indian gooseberry, fenugreek seeds & curry leaves. We also use Chamomile, Moringa and Oatgrass for their rejuvenative, soothing and moisturizing properties. We also add flaxseed and kokum butter for their natural anti-oxidant and hair restoring properties.

The Krya Damage repair Hair Mask goes ballistic on restorative herbs – We have used deep orange Marigold, Green Tea, Rose hips & Rose petals and Basil for their powerful anti oxidative action that stimulates collagen production and boosts the growth of strong hair. We have used strongly conditioning herbs like deep red Hibiscus flowers & Yashtimadhu (which we had blogged about a few days ago). We have added many hair restorative and repair herbs like Rosemary, Lemongrass, Brahmi, Amla and Bhringaraj to detoxify hair, balance sebum secretion and promote healthy hair growth.

The Krya extra conditioning hair mask – goes with the Krya extra conditioning Hair Wash

We had introduced the Krya Classic Hair Mask to complete the Krya Classic Hair regimen a few weeks ago. Today, we complete the Krya extra conditioning hair regimen by introducing the Krya extra conditioning hair mask with Orange flower & Liquorice.

The Krya extra conditioning hair wash and our hair oil is one of our best selling products (as indeed are all of our hair care products). We designed this regimen for hair that tends to be extra dry, frizzy, curly, tangles easily and has been occasionally subjected to chemical / heat treatments that leave it drier. Our conditioning hair wash is extremely gentle on hair and cleans it without damaging the hair’s cuticular structure further. The extra conditioning hair oil is full of luscious herbs like carrot and kokum butter and is reasonably light, highly penetrative oil that is absorbed easily by the scalp.

The Krya extra conditioning hair mask completes our extra conditioning hair regimen. We have designed this hair mask to give hair natural gloss, smoothness and softness. For this, we have used both traditional and new age herbs that condition hair naturally, restore health, help in taming the frizz and de-tangling hair and give hair a whole lot of health. Some of these herbs include the soothing and calming Orange flower, very moisturizing and demulcent Palmarosa, the aromatic and scalp detoxifying nutgrass, & the hair growth promoting Guava Leaf.

The Krya anti acne face mask – goes with the Krya Anti Acne Face wash

Almost all our products are tried internally before launch, and we have on file a list of all Krya employees’ hair and skin types, so that the appropriate product can be matched to and tested on them. Acne is a condition that has been carefully studied and analyzed in Ayurveda and Siddha. Both systems of Indian medicine treat this as a Pitta-Kapha disorder which increases in the presence of Pitta food, Pitta lifestyle and Pitta weather.

So summer will always see a severe triggering of pitta caused acne, as will the consumption of foods high in pitta like pickles, citrus fruits, mangoes, tamarind, jal jeera and other spicy or sour food.

This acne may come in combination with burning, itching skin rashes, prickly heat and strong body odor – all of which point to vitiated Pitta.

Generally, pitta skin orders will be followed by Pitta hair disorders – so acne sufferers may see hair that changes in colour and becomes reddish brown from their natural black, hair that is very fly away or fine, and hair that grays prematurely, especially when Pitta is vitiated.

Pitta vitiated skin is quick to burn – so a common complaint an acne sufferer would have is that a product is causing their skin to burn or break out – which means an increase in Pitta. So traditional medicine recommends Pitta reducing, Kapha balancing, bitters and astringent feel products for calming Pitta skin conditions.

So our anti acne face mask uses astringent and Pitta reducing Daruharidra (Berberis arista) which is commonly called Tree Turmeric. This is a climbing vine like herb which grows in hilly regions. The stem has a yellowish colour, and because of this and its pharmacological properties that are near identical to Curcuma longa (regular turmeric), this herb is called Daru Haridra / Mara Manjal / Tree Turmeric. Daru Haridra finds its way into many important Ayurvedic formulations including one for improving eyesight.

In the Krya anti acne face mask, we use it for its astringent, bitter, skin clarifying, inflammation reducing property. Apart from Daruharidra, we use other renowned, skin clarifying bitters like Neem, Mint, Sweet flag and Triphala.

To cool and moisturize skin, we use herbs like Moringa leaf, Vetiver & Fenugreek Leaf. Guava fruit and Liquorice add anti oxidant support and damage repair. Lodhra and our special herb steeped lentils improve micro circulation, cool skin further and lighten blemishes.

The Krya Body wash for Sensitive skin with Lodhra & Lotus flower

We have been doing custom formulations for more than 4 years at Krya. We first started making custom formulations in our home care products – we have customized detergents for whites, dish wash products for a machine, fragrance free dishwashes and many other variants.

When we started our skin and hair care line, we started getting a wide variety of customization requests like atopic dermatitis, eczema, a psoriasis cure, severe hair fall, etc. In this requests, we saw a consistent pattern of requests for skin that tends to be sensitive or prone to atopic dermatitis, non weeping eczema and recurring psoriasis. Hence we decided to launch our Sensitive Skin Body wash as a permanent product.

All skin and special conditions need to be treated with the right diet and lifestyle change. So we normally advise that people coming to us for these conditions visit a good ayurvedic vaidya at the onset, to ensure that they eat the right food for their condition.

The Psoriasis diet – in brief

PsoriasisIn certain skin conditions like psoriasis, Ayurveda advises a special psoriasis diet which makes certain dietary modifications like avoiding dairy products. Ghee is allowed as an exception if the vata / pitta in the body is vitiated.

The psoriasis diet also advises reducing substances that increase Kapha and pitta together. Psoriasis is considered a primary Kapha disorder with a secondary vata /pitta / both also changing in their nature. The vitiation in Kapha causes the skin to produce many layers and thicken, and the vitiation of vata causes the entire region to become hard, dark and dry and the skin tends to thicken and sometimes harden.
Sesame seeds, urad dal, jaggery are examples. Lentils like tuvar dal (pigeon peas) are advised to be avoided, as is frequent consumption of fermented foods like idly and dosa (in a typical Indian diet) as this can increase Pitta. Curd is to be completely removed in the psoriasis diet, as it is considered high in pitta and Kapha, and is considered “abhishyanadi” (blocks minor srotas or channels in the body leading to an excess of ama).

Skin cleansing and care in Psoriasis and other special conditions

In all these cases, Soaps and sulphates irritate and dry out skin further. So the skin becomes dryer, itchier, and the skin tends to flake unevenly. Conventional moisturizers can also irritate this kind of skin as the parabens, and fragrances in them can further trigger secondary issues like contact dermatitis.

We generally advise the use of pure, raw, organically cultivated, filtered kokum butter as a moisturizer in these skin conditions. While it smells a bit strange in its raw state, it is an excellent salve for skin and helps make skin more flexible and reduces the vata induced hardening and scaling that we notice in skin.

And to cleanse the skin, we’ve just formally launched our Krya Sensitive Body wash with Lotus flower and Lodhra.  The primary cleansing ingredient in this Body wash is the soothing and moisturizing Oat flour (Avena sativa). We then add Barley, again for its very gentle cleansing properties, and follow it up with 2 types of medicated green gram that has been steeped in 2 separate herb decoctions for over a day before being dried and processed. Into this cleansing base, we add herbs like Babchi (Psoralea cordifolia) renowned for its skin healing ability especially in conditions like Psoriasis, Lodhra (Symplocus racemosus) – an important skin repair herb, Nutgrass – a skin soothing, deodorizing and rejuvenating herb and many others.

The Krya “real bath” challenge – Have you tried our all-natural Soap free cleansers yet?

luxury bath tubThe Krya range of all natural body wash powders makes an excellent soap-free alternative that helps cleanse skin naturally.

Synthetic products have a strong artificial fragrance that lull you into feeling that you are much cleaner than you actually are. If you use soap on your skin, it will dissolve the sebum layer which is required to keep your skin moisturized and keep your barrier layer strong. Soap works on the outer layer of skin and dissolves oil and removes surface level sweat and dirt using a typical detergent action. But the sweat that emanates from the body in a few hours time continues to smell stale and unclean.

The Krya body wash powder / ubtan on the other hand is much more subtle in its action – it combines exfoliant, temperature altering, scrubbing, micro polishing and surfactant benefits all into one. The Krya body wash / ubtan works by actually opening up and removing mala (toxins) from the minutest of pores in your skin – so the instant difference after a bath is a feeling of lightness and refreshment. If you smell yourself a few hours later, your skin will not stink, even if you have been sweating profusely.

To inspire more and more people to try out the uniquely refreshing and very Zen like bath you could have with a Krya body wash or an Ubtan, we have a special promotion going on till the end of July 2016. Our herb and goodness filled body cleaning products are available at a discount of up-to 20% for the first time EVER.

Do explore the Krya Body-Wash Offer Here.

romantic luscious bath

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The Krya Hair Colour project – part 1

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

A Krya natural hair colour is one of our top enquiries, after our enquiries on repairing damaged hair and growing strong hair. While we have been talking about the dangers of chemical dyes and hair colours sometime now, we decided only early this year that we would launch an alternative.

Hair_colors

The rich variety of hair colour nature gives us

We have been pretty quick off the block for most of our new product launches, and our lab-launch time today has been quite compressed given our past history of sometimes taking over a year to commercially launch a formulation. Our hair colour project has been one of our post challenging projects for a variety of reasons, and many of these have to do with how predictable synthetic dyes are and therefore consumer expectation on the hair colour experience.

We spoke about how hair treatments like hair colour and hair smoothening are extremely damaging to the hair on the Krya blog last week. But here’s a small recap:

Synthetic colour related damage to your hair:

Forceful lifting of the cuticle:

Hair colours attack the inner core of the hair, and the cuticle is the first barrier to the entry of hair colour into your hair. To penetrate the hair shaft, the hair colour alters the pH of hair from its natural acidic state to an alkaline level. At this alkaline level, the cuticle is forcefully lifted up exposing the inner sections of hair, and the hair colour penetrates through into the hair shaft.

Stripping hair of its existing colour

In order to achieve evenness of colour, synthetic hair colours start by stripping hair of all its colour.  Bleaching agents like peroxide break down the hair’s natural colour pigment and bleach hair.  With the protective cuticle now being lifted up and your hair’s natural colour being broken down, your hair’s texture will now be unhealthy, dry and straw like.

2 ways in which Synthetic colours damage hair

  • Because of the unnatural way in which synthetic hair colours work, hair is forced into 2 states: The first is the prolonged, and forceful lifting up of the cuticle in order to allow the hair colour to penetrate deep into the hair’s shaft. This damages the cuticle and reduces its elasticity – so hair becomes extremely dry and dull.
  • By penetrating deep into the hair’s shaft, the colour also forms micro perforations in the hair’s structure leading to greater porosity of the hair. By bleaching the hair before depositing colour on it, the synthetic colour also interferes with the hair’s natural pigments and fatty acid layer – this makes the hair dull, brittle and rough in texture.

barber-378816_640

Hair that has been chemically damaged becomes extremely rough, dry & brittle

A natural history of hair colouring:

The ancient Egyptian city of Tell-El-Amarna (orAmarna in short), was built as the capital of Pharaoh Akhenaton, considered the “heretic Pharaoh” as he preached Monotheism and tried to promote a new religion based on a single God, the Sun God,  abandoning ancient Egypt’s multiple god based religion. Amarna was abandoned shortly after the Pharaoh’s death in 1332 BC.

Archeologist Jolanda Bos has analyzed a selection of 100 recently excavated skulls from the cemetery at Amarna. 28 of those skulls still had hair, include one woman whose hair had nearly 70 extensions forming an elaborate hair style.

The skulls had different hair textures and hair colours and styles including 3 strand braids, stylized rings and coils around the ears. The hair texture ranged from extremely curly black hair to straight hair that was wavy with a dark brown colour. Most interestingly, the excavation also found a skull with gray hair that had been dyed with Henna and had Henna’s characteristic orange red shade still remaining after several thousand years.

Henna was even used by an aging powerful Pharaoh like Ramses 2 to maintain an impression of youth and vigor.

Colours from nature:

Ancient India used dye derived from 3 sources for hair and textile dyeing – plant parts, insects and animal parts and metals and minerals. In our posts we will discuss a few plant based natural dyes.

The Kamala tree:

Mallotus philippensis is a south East Asian tree growing in moderate to high rainfall areas. The fruit contains reddish brown glandular hair like strands which are used in Ayurvedic medicine. These “hair strands” are a strong digestive and purgative and release a golden red dye called “Kamala dye” which is used to dye wool and silk. Kamala dye is also added as an anti oxidant in ghee and vegetable oils to prevent rancidity. It is a strongly vermicidal herb.

Mallotes resized

The rich red fruits of the Kamala tree – used to dye delicate fabric like silk

In ancient times, the Kamala tree was called “Kampilla” indicating its origin from the Kampilla country, the North western province. In ancient literature, the plant is described as “red bodied” containing red tinctorial matter in the form of grainy powders (rakta churana). The dyes prepared from this plant were described as “rocanika” and “candra” (pleasing), and was used particularly to dye silk fabric.

“Kumkuma “– Saffron:

Kumkuma was a popular dye drug in the post Vedic period. The Mahabharata records a particular community of people called the “Jaguda” who were engaged to cultivate the Kumkuma plant. The Arthashastra notes that the Kumkuma plant is generally cultivated under royal patronage for its valuable flowers that were prized for both their dyeing and cosmetic properties. Kumkuma grew in 2 provinces in India, and the Kumkuma from Kashmir was prized for its red filaments and dye.

Safran-Weinviertel_Niederreiter_2_Gramm_8285

Stamens of Crocus sativus (Saffron) – prized in cuisine and beauty

The bright red colour produced by this flower was considered both durable (“dhira”), and economical and pleasing.

Haridra – Turmeric

Yellow dye was principally produced from plants in ancient India, and turmeric was the most important source of yellow dye in India. The Chinese traveler I-Tsing, who visited Indian in the 7th century, has noted many recipes for obtaining yellow dye based on his experiences in India.

Curcuma_longa_roots

The auspicious , golden yellow Haridra

Haridra is described as an extremely auspicious and highly beneficial plant in Indian literature. The yellow dye produced by the rhizome is described as bright (pinga, kanchani), pleasing (rocani), and producing deep colour to fabric (dirgharaga).

Haritaki (Chebulic myrobalan):

We have spoken about Haritaki earlier on the Krya blog. It forms one of the 3 great myrobalans in India, and has many internal and external applications in Ayurveda.  We use Haritaki extensively in our skin and hair formulations, and it goes into our Triphala , the Ayurvedic anti bacterial cleansing formulation that we use across many of our products for safe and effective cleansing.

Haritaki was traditionally used in ancient times as a hair dye to impart a dark almost black colour to hair along with other plant based dyes, and was also used a hair conditioning and growth promoting and cleansing herb.

In the Krya Lab – Some challenges while developing a natural colour

Being a vegan and cruelty free company

While many many substances exist in nature to impart colour, at Krya, being a vegan and cruelty free company, we use only plants in our products. In the world of hair colours and dyes that immediately excludes us from using Insect based dyes like “Laksha” which have been used since ancient times in India to both dye fabric and also in cosmetic applications like hair colour and colour cosmetics.

Laksha generally breeds on plants like Manjishta, Palash and Khadira (which are themselves natural dye producing plants), and produces a resinous substance which is described as “Krishna “(dark) and “Rakta (red) and can give permanent tints to fabric.

The use of a natural mordant / additive that is gentle on hair

Many natural colours also require the use of mordents and fixers to give a lasting shade. In fabric dyeing, mordants like alum are often used to “fix” colour. Fabrics also undergo special treatments over many weeks – for example, Chebulic myrobalan dyed fabric is soaked in buffalo milk for a few days to help deepen colour and produce a longer lasting shade.

Certain herbs are also used as additives or auxiliary dyes to brighten colour or slightly change the shade.

Obviously in developing a natural colour, we have to take into account how these mordants can affect hair health, and use auxiliary colour promoters that aid hair health and hair growth and work fast.

Obtaining an even shade

One of the greatest challenges in developing a natural colour has to do with how safe the process is compared to a synthetic hair colour. As we have discussed earlier, a synthetic hair colour works by first bleaching hair with a chemical like peroxide. After hair is completely stripped of colour, the desired colour is then injected into each hair strand.

This chemical process ensures that all hair strands get an even coating of colour, which gives synthetic hair an even finish.

As we do not follow this pre-bleaching process in natural hair colours, hair tends to get unevenly coloured depending upon the split between grey and black hair. Those with roughly even amount of grey and black hair may develop hair that has 2 shades of colour.

Our challenge at Krya is how we can overcome this and offer a colour that does not make such a demarcation between grey and black hair.

Natural vs synthetic colour -evenness challenge

Synthetic vs natural dyes – notice how even the black is in the synthetic dye

Maintaining hair health and hair condition while colouring it:

We discussed how synthetic colours strip hair of both its pigment and an essential layer of fatty acids and artificially lift up the cuticle. All of these make the hair dryer than what it is. But even naturally, hair that grays has a slightly different structure compared to hair that still has its natural pigment intact. Grey hair tends to be wirier and thick, so it feels much coarser compared to hair that has not begun to age. It therefore tends to be a little more unmanageable and frizzy compared to normal hair.

Also as hair ages, the sebum secretion to the hair reduces, and it becomes finer. So grey hair tends to be much drier, breaks easier and is less manageable.

While developing our hair colour, this is one of our priorities. So our colours have been developed using a rich range of natural conditioning herbs and plant butters to coat and maintain hair health. Also, our hair colour range is being developed with a series of protective and nourishing hair masks and a special set of hair washes and oils that boost hair health and texture.

To conclude

This is the first in many many posts we intend to write about the chemistry of hair colour, the dangers behind synthetic hair colours and dyes, and how the power of plants can be harnessed to give us healthy and toxin free beauty and nourishment.

The Krya Hair Damage Repair system:

The Krya Hair Damage Repair System consists of Oil, a Hair Wash and a Hair Mask for chemically damaged hair, of which the Hair Oil is now available.

Severely chemically treated hair becomes extremely porous because of multiple injuries to the hair cuticle. Synthetic colours also permanently damage the hair shaft as they lift the cuticular structure and inject chemicals like PPD inside the hair shaft to ensure the hair colour stays longer without getting washed out.

Chemically damaged hair also contains a layer of toxins on the scalp as this kind of hair is regularly coated with synthetic conditioners and treatments to artificially smoothen it and “condition” it externally.

Because of the permanent nature of the damage wrought by chemical treatments, we have to ensure that the existing hair is conditioned and boosted with moisture so that it is more manageable and new growth is stimulated with better nourishment being given to new hair growth to ensure the hair is stronger. The regenerative capacity of hair of course depends upon the body’s state of health and the food being eaten.

Our Hair oil for severely damaged hair uses a whole host of powerful herbs. Some of them like Liquorice and Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba) work on the cuticular structure and provide moisture and nourishment to smoothen and condition hair. Others like parsley, marigold and thyme contain anti oxidants that stimulate collagen production to promote the growth of stronger hair. Flaxseed’s fatty acids and anti oxidants remove dead cells and toxins from the scalp, and lemongrass balances sebum production ensuring the scalp produces the right amount of oil for the hair.

Explore and order here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The One Person Satyagraha

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

2001

In 2001, in the first month of my first job, after wading through knee-deep rain water and slush, I boarded a rather random, crowded bus to Motihari, in the Champaran district of Bihar and famously, the birthplace of George Orwell. As weird as that was, I found it even more surreal that the purpose of this trip was to learn the art of selling a wide variety of consumer goods for an American company. It was not that I found my situation particularly repellant or devoid of glamour compared to say my friends working in a bank in Wall Street. What bothered me was the fact that in a million years I could not have imagined myself doing this at the culmination of 21 years of formal education.

Motihari is a very small town and in my very first visit I learnt that George Orwell was born here in 1903 , courtesy of a bust and plaque in a prominent part of the local geography.

George_Orwell_press_photo

 

 

George Orwell’s Press photo above

In fact there is rather proprietary air in which the local people refer to Orwell & you could be forgiven for thinking that he wrote 1984 sitting in a tea shop in Meena Bazaar. In actual fact Orwell left Motihari as a one year old baby in 1904 and that was about it.

 

It was only in my third or fourth visit to Motihari that the very real and very important connection to Mahatma Gandhi dawned on me. While I could vaguely sense the spirit of Gandhi in street names and the memorial pillar in the town center, it was only when a distributor reminded me of the Indigo movement that I realized that this was the the Karmabhoomi of Gandhiji. In a sense after South Africa, the indigo movement and the related Satyagraha was a seminal event in Gandhi’s life helping him on the way to becoming the Mahatma. I was happy to be making monthly trips to that sacred land.

 

The First Indian Satyagraha

In 1916, Gandhi inspired the very first Indian Satyagraha, in Champaran. The local farmers were forced to grow the Indigo plant, a natural blue dye, for the British textile industry instead of food crops of their choice.

The development of a cheaper chemical substitute, lead to a crash in the prices of the natural Indigo dye. The production of natural Indigo worldwide fell from 19,000 tons in 1897 to 1,000 tons by 1914. The British planters started paying ridiculously low prices for the Indigo leading to a very desperate situation for the farmers. They also tried to recoup their losses in many ways through farmers who had leased their land from them. They increased the lease rents, seized their cattle, looted their homes and imposed several new illegal “taxes” on various aspects of life. The planters beat the peasants and put those who resisted in prison.

One of the Indigo cultivators called Rajkumar Shukla, persuaded Gandhi to travel to Motihari, to study the situation first hand and to provide a solution. On his arrival at Motihari, the local district magistrate ordered Gandhi to leave immediately. Gandhi politely refused this order and proceeded to make Champaran his home for the Satyagraha. Since the farmers had no legal recourse, Gandhi assembled a team of lawyers including Jawaharlal Nehru & Rajendra Prasad, who worked with him to build the case.

3. Champaran satyagraha

The team under Gandhi surveyed 2841 villages and recorded the statements of 8000 indigo farmers to understand the problem in depth. They also realized that apart from the economic struggles due to forced indigo cultivation, there was a deeper problem of education and health. They helped set up Schools and improved local sanitation. Gandhi and team published a detailed report to government which favored the farmers unanimously. The government was forced to accept this report and lead to the formation of the Champaran Agrarian Bill which provided the relief to the Indigo farmers.

The Champaran Satyagraha was the very first of its kind and was the first major milestone in what eventually became the grand Indian Independence movement.

Remains of the day

Natural indigo cultivation is on the decline today and is replaced in large part by synthetic Indigo. It is continues to be used in small amounts in natural textile and tie and dye art like Shibori. However , the largest use of Indigo dye is now synthetic Indigo dye, as is used in your favorite pair of mass market jeans.

5. indigo dyed shibori

Perhaps there is not much Indigo cultivation happening in Champaran despite the major historic associations. However to me what remains from that period , the philosophy of Satyagraha, is of vital importance.

Gandhi coined this term from Satya (Truth ) & Agraha ( holding firmly to) and over his life perfected the philosophy of Satyagraha as a powerful , non-violent opposition by the oppressed in any situation.

I believe that anyone finding themselves in an uncomfortable life situation can start a Satyagraha. Even if it is a one person Satyagraha.

 

So, If you are bored by globalization of fashion and find yourself and every third person wearing cookie –cutter clothes , find yourself a local handloom to suit your needs.

India is one of the largest producers of cotton worldwide. The rampant spread of genetically (GM) modified cotton, which now accounts for 93% of cotton in India, is a cause for concern. The correlation between the growth of GM cotton and farmer suicides is a debate which cannot be ignored any longer. We will write in depth about this later this month. However you can start your one person satyagraha today by choosing organic cotton.

If you are constantly bothered by reports of the Ganga turning black due to the effluents from chemical dyes meant for textile mills polluting it, you can look for textile which is naturally dyed like Malkha , or Tula or other designers like Bindu of Chakra Design.

2. effluent discharge

If you are hot and sweaty in a size 40, blue colour ,button down office shirt, go a to nearby Khadi Bhavan outlet and experience the joys of breathable fabric , that keeps cool even in an Indian summer.

Looking back at my monthly trips to Motihari in 2001, I wish I had taken the train instead of the Bus. The railway station is appropriately named “Bapudham Motihari” and rightly reminds all visitors about the man and his very important Satyagraha. George Orwell does merit a footnote in the history of the town but should not be the first thing that hits you.

So if you find yourself worrying about a 1984 like situation, don’t wait, Start your One person Satyagraha today.

 

 

 

 

 

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