REVIVING THE GONGADI
In Telangana, the Gongadi craft began to disappear, with the loss of the unique black-wool Deccani sheep breed and a changed local market context, triggered by government policies of the mid 1990s.
In 2005, families of shepherds, began to organize as the Deccani Gorrela Mekala Pempakadarula Sangham (Deccani Sheep and Goat Rearers Association), to protect their sheep breed, livelihoods, ecologies and cultures. This manifested in collective actions to rear Deccani breeding rams, protect common property grazing resources and advocate with the government to promote the Deccani sheep breed. The Sangham facilitates community dialogues on reviving traditional cropping practices, which are supportive of sheep, and also enables spinners and weavers to balance their work between agriculture and weaving.
With the revival of the breed and wool, came the revival of the gongadi. Shepherds, spinners, weavers and kada makers are sustaining the knowledge, and skill of the Gongadi.
Friends of the Sangham who have been an integral part of the revival story and continue to support the Gongadi: Sagari R Ramdas,Veterinary Scientist, Elana Dickson, Weave Designer, Madhusudhan, Cultural Activist and Popular Educator, Charanya, Artist, Krupa, Media and other members of the Food Sovereignty Alliance, India.