By: Popoai Tanuvasa-Lole
Auroville is home to a host of non-governmental associations. They span from art, sustainability, education, empowerment, and grassroots community work. Each specializes in assisting their specific cause. Upasana is one organization in Auroville that has done incredible work and has been recognized by the U.N. and UNESCO.
Upasana is not only a design studio, but a place where creativity, fashion, design, and social responsibility are woven together. Their rich stories and textiles culminate to create their conscious clothing brand. Founded in 1997, the studio runs many development projects around India. Such as their outreach program “Small Steps”, the Varanasi Weavers Project, and the Tsunamika doll project.
The Tsunamika Doll
One of Upasana’s most notable projects is the Tsunamika Doll. Tsunamika was created by Upasana as a symbol of hope for Tsunami victims, and now more than five million dolls have been made and distributed to over 80 countries. The project is entirely supported by the community. . People take the dolls and contribute according to their ability. The Tsunamika project has received an ‘Award of Excellence’ from the Government of India, as well as special recognition from UNESCO and inclusion in the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
I was most impressed by Upsana’s approach to carrying out its various projects and crafting their products, and I appreciated how they honor each step and person involved in their process. Passion appears to run through the veins of the organization, and I learned so much in my brief tour of the campus. One of which is how influential India is in the fashion industry. India accounts for 4% of the global textile and apparel trade. India is also a global leader in the production of several textile products, including silk, cotton, and Multimode Fibre.
Another eye-opening fact I learned while at Upasana is how the organization is attempting to alleviate India’s farmer suicide problem through the creation of their products. Currently, 30 people in the farming sector commit suicide every day, typically as a result of the overwhelming debt that farmers must incur as a result of not producing enough products to sell and survive.
Learning this made me think about the clothes I own, the places I shop for clothes both online and in person, and how much work went into making the clothes and then getting them to me. It may have cost people their lives. And that conversation will live with me for the rest of my life, and it’s a message that needs to be spread as the topic of sustainable fashion becomes more popular.