Women Of Almora
There are many ways to spin a yarn. Some do it with words. Some do it with looms. The women of Almora use the power of mountains.
To understand this phenomenon, we must first acquaint ourselves with the force of nature that is the Pahadi woman. Pahadi – a word that literally means “of the mountains” – symbolises two very different ideas: the mountain without, and the mountain within.
These Pahadi women – of the Kumaon hills in the Himalayas – live in picturesque but punishing topography, the mountains that sell postcards and tourism brochures halting the march of the urban comforts we have come to take for granted. It is a hard, laborious life.
To thrive in this land, you must embody the unassailable toughness of the great barrier that stands between you and the world beyond. You must channel the power of the Pahad.
When the women of Almora say “Pahadi aurat kuch bhi kar sakti hai” – the Pahadi woman can do anything – it is because they have learnt to harness the strength of the mountain within.
It is with this strength that they run their households with trickling resources and scant comfort. It is with this steely determination that they spin their colourful dreams into hardy tweed that is renowned the world over for its warmth.
The art of making tweed is part of Almora’s cultural inheritance, the Almora pattern passed down from one generation to the next. But time and circumstance eroded the practice till it had all but disappeared. The Pahadi women took it upon themselves to not just revive the skill, but to turn it into a thriving global enterprise.
It is a monumental achievement they wear lightly. As they sing songs of the summer and caress the sheep that sustain their looms, they are animated by a singular goal: to provide warmth.