Khadi (khaa-dee) is the name given to hand-spun and hand-woven fabric, either cotton, silk or wool. Mahatma Gandhi promoted Khadi as part of his movement for Swadesh (self-sustenance) during the Indian freedom struggle.
Ponduru, in the Srikakulam District of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, is known for its handwoven Khadi dhotis made of fine cotton. The fabric is colloquially called Ponduru Khaddar.
The cotton sourced for Pondur Khadi is known as short-staple hill variety. The Khadi Village Industries Commission refers to the cotton used for the Ponduru variety as being 100% eco-friendly as the crop is grown without fertilizers.
Normally in creating the yarn, the process of loosening the seeds from the fluff of the cotton is carried out mechanically. However, in Ponduru, even this is done by hand using a rather unique instrument - the jaw of a locally available river fish! Once the seeds are separated from the fluff, the yarn is spun on a spinning wheel. The weaving then takes place on a hand loom. The fabric is famous for its fine texture that is attributed to the process of hand-spinning and weaving.
An edited version of this article appeared in Culturama's September 2012 Issue.