GumCha — the original cotton scarf, towel, hat, skirt and air conditioner, woven by farming families across South Asia for thousands of years.
GumCha — 100% cotton, handloomed by rural farming families in West Bengal, India. GumCha are about 60“-68“ long and from 25“-28“ wide, yet weigh less than 4 ounces. There are thousands of distinct patterns and color combinations, and because they are handloomed, each is unique.
A GumCha is more than a scarf, towel, air conditioner or skirt. It has been the traditional gift for guests in India’s rural communities since Buddha walked the trails leading through the service area of the GumCha4Health project. Still today, in many rural areas, when a guest arrives, the ritual of adoroni or 'welcome to the loving fold' is done, and a GumCha is bestowed around the neck of the visitor.
It’s fun to give someone a GumCha — a blessing in cotton — and we think people everywhere will find it a fine and useful gift.
GumCha — with a history that crosses millennia and a geographical reach spanning the earth from ancient Mesopotamia to modern Cambodia, GumCha are known by many different names and spellings: Gamchha, Gamucha, Gamosa, in India; Dismal in Afghanistan, and Krama in Cambodia. In Bengal where our GumCha are made, we use the closest English phonetic spelling, Gumcha, as it appears in English-language newspaper articles and the Internet.
GumCha are made by and for people who work hard, who are in the sun and cold, who need something to wash with, to dry with, to wipe away the sweat of the day with. It is fair to say that throughout history, more babies, elephants and water buffalo have been washed and dried with a GumCha than with any other thing. No doubt billions of children have grown up wearing a GumCha as their only clothes. In West Bengal, working people will spend a whole day’s wage for a GumCha.
Introducing GumCha to North America and Europe is not a simple task. Basically, no one in the West knows much if anything about GumCha.
So, our only hope was to turn to the very people who use GumCha every day and ask them to explain how a GumCha is used.
We explained the problem to a classroom of young women in the nursing school that this project will support. They all agreed to help and below is the result.
1. Community-based healthcare and health education for poor rural farm laborers, subsistence farmers, their families and their communities.
2. The development of the rural farm economy in our service area by tripling the income of subsistence farmer/weavers for weaving GumCha.
3. Projects that address the health issues of the rural poor, and the economic and educational needs of agriculturally based communities.
4. The creation of a dependable international market for a unique, useful, handmade product, by introducing GumCha to the Americas and Europe.