The COVID-19 pandemic has brought down uncertainty into the lives of many, especially for those who are dependent on the petty business for survival.

But instead of letting COVID-19 break their souls, a young couple in Asam’s Udalguri district has seized this opportunity and utilised the lockdown period to stitch cloth masks out of a traditional scarf and towels like the Assamese Gamosa, Bodo Aarnaai, and the Rabha Kangbang.

Udalguri’s Brojen Daimari and his wife Rumi Daimari were finding it difficult to survive during this lockdown period due to zero income.

To overcome this, the duo decided to make facemasks by using the various traditional towels used by different communities of the state.

The masks are stitched by Rumi and Brojen takes them to the market on his two-wheeler.

“The government has made wearing masks and social distancing compulsory to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection,” said Brojen Daimari.

“But we observed that masks are not easily available in rural areas. Moreover, the one available in medical stores are sold at a much high rate than the usual rate,” he added.

“So we decided to reap the benefit of this growing demand for the mask and prepare these cloth masks,” he further added.

“We were facing problems as our stationery shop in village has been closed down for several days and due to this we are out of income,” he said.

Daimari further said that he travels to various parts of Udalguri district including Khoirabari,  Bhergaon, Dimakuchi,  Paneri, Tangla and manages to sell 60-80 pieces every day.

Each mask is priced at Rs 50.

On being asked if he has ever been troubled by the law enforcement agencies, Daimari said, “I sell the masks from 8 am to 1 pm, timing which has been suggested to me by the administration.”

Speaking to Northeast Now, Guwahati-based textile researcher Jayanta Dev Sarma said, “Fabrics like cotton, silk, wool etc. have anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities.”

“Such fabrics can do wonders when treated with some anti-microbe plants,” he said.

“Boiling material like neem leaves, tea leaves, basil (tulsi) leaves, turmeric (Haldi), mint (pudina), the bark of pomegranate, aloe vera, honey etc. in water for some time makes the solution an active disinfectant,” he further said.

“When a gamosa is soaked in this boiled water, then it makes a better mask than some of the ordinary masks available in the market,” he further said.

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com