Bhaderwah, Oct 10: The recently concluded youth festival, ‘Sangam 2023,’ in the picturesque town of Bhaderwah, Jammu and Kashmir, showcased an extraordinary display of creativity. The spotlight was on bouquets of multicolored flowers, garlands, frames, and art pieces, all crafted from used and damaged cocoon shells by the faculty and students of Poonch Campus.
The Cocoon Craft workshop was a captivating attraction during the iconic youth festival, Sangam 2023. Dignitaries, guests, and students were drawn to the novelty of this unique art form.
The utilization of waste cocoon shells serves a dual purpose: it aims to increase the income of farmers and empower women while also addressing environmental concerns by repurposing non-biodegradable materials.
Traditionally, cocoon shells, whether damaged or discarded due to their lower quality, were considered waste products destined for compost pits due to their protein content. However, a new wave of students pursuing Sericulture at Poonch Campus is transforming these shells into art.
The brainchild behind this innovative project is Dr. Rubia Bukhari, a teacher and Incharge of the Department of Sericulture at Poonch Campus, Jammu University. Dr. Bukhari was inspired to use this unusual material for craftwork when she observed farmers losing interest in Sericulture because a significant portion of their cocoon produce was either rejected or undervalued by traders.
Dr. Rubia Bukhari shared her journey: “Sitting amidst scattered cocoons at our campus, I, along with my students and fellow faculty members, began experimenting by cutting cocoon shells into various shapes, painting them, and creating artistic motifs for greeting cards and bouquets. What started as a pastime soon evolved into a hobby and, eventually, an artistic skill.”
She expressed her delight at the enthusiastic response during Sangam and its potential to contribute to the “white revolution” in Jammu and Kashmir, paralleling the “Purple revolution” brought about by lavender cultivation in Bhaderwah.
Utilizing discarded cocoon shells offers multiple societal benefits, especially in hilly regions. It increases the income of silk-rearing farmers, empowers women, and addresses environmental concerns by replacing plastic flowers in bouquets with cocoon art.
Dr. Rubia Bukhari’s vision includes expanding the production of this craft on a larger scale. To achieve this, Poonch Campus has organized training camps and workshops in several villages and university campuses, with a particular focus on empowering women.
Participants in cocoon craft workshops, including students and farmers, are finding newfound hope in enhancing their livelihoods and incomes simultaneously.
Sonia (23), a silkworm rearer from Poonch, shared her optimism: “We have been rearing silkworms for two decades, but we never thought of using waste cocoons profitably. After attending Dr. Rubia Bukhari’s workshop, I am confident that our income will increase, and I am determined to persuade my family to continue practicing Sericulture.”
Jyoti Sharma (22) of Udhampur expressed her gratitude for discovering this unique dimension of art while pursuing an MSc in Sericulture at Poonch Campus.
Khair-un-Nisa (21), a student of Poonch Campus, is not only passionate about her cocoon craft but also aims to empower women in rural areas by teaching them this art form.
The transformation of cocoon shells into art and crafts signifies the emergence of a new art form. With districts like Poonch, Rajouri, Udhampur, Reasi, Kathua, Doda, and Anantnag being strongholds of silk farming, the potential for expansion is limitless.
Although Sericulture is extensively practiced in southern Indian states, Kashmiri silk continues to be regarded as the finest quality in the country. This innovative initiative not only empowers women but also adds another dimension to the rich cultural heritage of the region.