The art of producing the Nilame costume is unique to the families of the hill country and has been passed down the generations. Though some other parts of the country do produce the Nilame costume the roots of the practice lie in the hill country.
While this is a family tradition the recent past saw many making a living out of it and one such person is MrsP.V.S Irangani from Hindagala, Kandy. Captured below is the story she shared with us of her journey in making a living of a traditional art.
Our family made a livelihood of this craft from the time of my great grandfather and now my brother and I have taken it up as our livelihood too. It has been six years since I took to it and I have always ensured that our family’s traditional practices are treasured in every piece I create. It usually takes about a week to produce the full costume which I sell as well as rent for about Rs.75,000. There are a few shops that take what I sew but the issue is that I do not receive a payment for the dresses I give the shops till a customer makes a purchase of it. This is one of the biggest challenges we face in the industry. I don’t have money in hand to start on other work.
One of the biggest obstacles faced by small business owners is the need for money. Contrary to what is said it is not an easy task to obtain a loan, low-income earners struggle to find people to sign for collateral and produce evidence of wealth. Mrs. Irangani shared that she was lucky to have obtained a loan through the ‘Diriya’ loan scheme provided especially for women by HNB FINANCE. She said it was the perfect solution for women who strive to make something of themselves.
“I became a member of HNB FINANCE a few years ago and I obtained a Rs.50,000 loan the first time and a Rs.150000 following that. I have continued to receive their guidance and financial advice, money has not been a problem for me ever since.”
“HNB FINANCE has been a strength to us in more than just providing a financial service. They have taken the initiative to conduct frequent workshops to help develop our business skills and through these our villagers have also learnt the importance of saving and responsibly managing their money. This is how I opened a ‘Miyulasi’ womens savings account, I was made aware of how to secure my future,” expressed Mrs. Irangani in gratitude.