Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The unethical Silk Route...

Silk happened to be an accidental find for man but an unfortunate and brutal accident for the Bombyx mori species. All round the world the fibroin segregation from the 'silkworm of the mulberry tree' has a huge demand. India is the second largest producer of Silk in the world, which from an animal rights activist's perspective means, lakhs and crores of silkworms are being steamed and gassed alive, just to produce the silk threads which subsequently is woven into costly silk garments.
Fine, tightly woven silk is valued not only for its smoothness, lustrous beauty and luxury, but also for its purity. As per Hindus, silk is a symbol of sanctity and used for the purity of soul at two important events of human’s life – marriage and death. In recent Priyadarshan film "Kanchivaram", which tells a silk weaver's story, the sense of pride that silk has on a man's life is pointed out. Some people even feel there is no need to wash silk clothes before ceremonial use. The hard core Brahmins, who boast of not harming any animals and preach Ahimsa, as they do not include meat in their diet, are much biased against these gentle worms, when it comes to silk sarees and dhothis and ironically believe it to be one the most pure substance. I doubt many of them dumbly follow the traditions, without even questioning their origin and process by which they are made. The process of silk manufacture, involving mass murder of these gentle beings was kept a secret when it was first exported into an Ahimsa influenced India, under the Sanskrit name "Chinanshuk" from China some 2000 years ago. From that time it is just viewed as the most expensive and beautiful fabric available and a pride asset for many.
How millions of life can be wasted just for the sake of man's greediness is seen explicably during silk making... For getting 1 gram of silk about 15 silkworms are killed which corresponds to massacre of 1500 of them to get one metre of cloth and again about 5000 of them make an elaborate Kanjeepuram saree with exquisite zari work.
The cocoon the silkworm spins around itself as a protective covering, ironically, spells doom for itself. These cocoons are boiled killing the chrysalis inside them to get silk threads. Some cocoons are not boiled and are allowed to become the moths. That is not coz of sympathy but for mating them and let the female lay the eggs. They are also not spared and once the eggs are laid they are crushed to death. This is to see whether they have any diseases and if so the eggs are destroyed. (See:  http://www.bwcindia.org/Web/Awareness/LearnAbout/Silk.html).
There are some organizations which voice against this cruelty.
Beauty without cruelty (http://www.bwcindia.org/) organization is an organization which publicize cruelity hidden in beauty industry and provides alternatives to such products.
Researches by Kusuma Rajaiah has conceived a new, innovative concept of "Ahimsa Silks" (See: http://www.ahimsasilks.com/) where there is no killing or cruelity involved while the manufacture of silk. Only after the silkworm has completed its metamorphosis and emerged from the cocoon that Ahimsa silk is extracted. This silk may not replace exact silk but surely has an ethical value attached to it.
Life is precious even if it is in the form of a man or a worm and hence if someone does want to do something against this cruelty, the following suggestions may help you:
Do not buy silk items: Apart from the cruelty involved in its production, silk is expensive and becomes useless when wet—unlike cruelty-free synthetic fibres, which retain their insulating capabilities in all weathers.
Get alternatives to silk: Which includes Nylon, rayon, polyester, tencel, milkweed seed-pod fibers, silk-cotton tree filaments etc.
Rather use Ahimsa silk.
"Live and Let Live"


  1. I am not surprised to see this article in Sridhar's page. A person of his word, he is an extrovert and an ardent animal-lover. His interview for Infosys recruitment is famous among his friends - The story goes like the interviewer asked him about his favorite bird. Sridhar went ahead telling the interviewer that it was 'Crow'. The surprised or rather shocked interviewer had to stand a lecture on crow by our animal-lover.
    Result- He was selected. :)

    May he be able to make the changes that he wishes to make in the society.

  2. hey thank you very much for letting me know all these details of cruelty....i am really hallucinated to go for silk...even i am in to these ethics moral and all that....nice to see your article


  3. i already aware of how silk getting done by killing silk worms....thats why i googled "ethical to wear silk ?"

    and i came to see your blog...
    now i will be buying ahimsa silk for my wedding...thanks for the link.

  4. danks nathan for the comments... wishing u a happy and ethical married life...
    please allow me to follow your blog...