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Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the heat wave continues to sweep across Odisha with the mercury soaring above 40 degrees in some places, the khus khus farmers and curtain makers make a hay from their business.

To prove the point, OTV takes you to Nileswar village in Odisha’s Bargarh district which is also known as the khus khus village of Odisha, where locally made, eco-friendly cooling curtains made of khus khus, also known as ‘Benachera’ in local parlance is a household business for all.

Every summer as the sun beats down with all its vigour, this little known village in the remote parts of Odisha gets busy and bustles with buyers and dealers of this natural heat repeller.

Samaru Sahu, a Benachera maker told OTV, “We have been doing this business since ages. This root grows only in winters. After getting them harvested, we let them get dry for some days. We get bamboo sheets and weave them together to make curtains, hand fans and other household materials.”

While some khus khus curtain makers sell their products to outstation buyers in bulk, some artisans with small outputs pedal their way to the Bargarh market to sell directly to the consumers.

However, some locals of the village alleged neglect by the State government which resulted in their poverty and loss in business.

Damayanti Bhesra, a khus khus curtain maker said, “We have to purchase a lot of raw materials from the market. We buy plastic, bamboo sheets among other things, which make our profit margin too thin to manage our family.”

Moreover, the lack of irrigation facilities in the area have largely reduced the farming of khus khus to only six months a year.

Antaryami Mishra, a local of Bargarh said, “Benachera has medicinal property too and its fragrance is so soothing. It not only keeps heat away, it adds great aesthetics to the ambience of the home too.”

Khus is actually a grass with medicinal property, which acts as a natural coolant. When sprinkled with water, door and window curtains made from khus roots, keep hot winds at bay and make the house cool. These curtains also leave the home with a pleasant aroma.

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