Monday 24 April 2023

Khandua or Sambalpuri? Sab Chalta Hai?

UK-based marathon-runner Odia woman, Ms Madhusmita Jena Das, ran the Manchester Marathon dressed in a traditional Khandua Saree last Sunday i.e. on 16th April 2023.

Her marathon participation images and videos are now viral. She has earned praise for her beautiful traditional Khandua silk Saree that she had worn while participating in the Manchester Marathon.

Misrepresentation of Her Saree

Those who have followed this news or search it online will find that- the name of her saree has been shared by most as “Sambalpuri”.

Sambalpuri is a type of Bandha Kala or art of tie-and-dye i.e. Ikat handloom being woven in some districts of western Odisha, India.

However, Madhusmita Jena Das’s saree is not a Sambalpuri Saree.

Rather, it is a Khandua Saree.

Source: The News Insight on Twitter-

Khandua is a type of Bandha Kala or art of tie-and-dye i.e. Ikat handloom being woven in Cuttack district of Odisha, India.

Both “Sambalpuri Bandha Saree & Fabrics” and “Khandua Saree & Fabrics” have the Geographical Indication (GI) Tag.

You can read more here-

Sambalpuri Bandha GI-

Khandua GI-

Both Khandua and Sambalpuri Bandha are amongst the nine handlooms of Odisha that have earned the GI tag.

Odisha GI Sarees and Fabrics-

Needless to say, GI products are linked to specific geographical area, uniqueness and reputation.

GI Saree- But, neither correct name nor identity 

Should we be concerned about the usage of name - Sambalpuri instead of Khandua?

Some argue-

“No Problem!”

“Take it in good spirit”

“After all, it is a Saree from Odisha, India!”

“Not all are experts/specialists.”

Do we feel- "Sab Chalta Hai? Take it easy?"

Though we are proud that she wore a saree of Odisha, India, we would have been even more proud when the correct name would have been shared by all.

That would have been possible if all know the right names, have proper information and take care for correct representation of our products. 

Is this the first time such misbranding has happened?

Definitely not.

Some recent cases

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2022 Saree- it was a Bomkai saree, and still was said to be Sambalpuri by many. It was even attributed to other states.

This blog post has more-

Once the wrong information was published and widely shared by media, despite intimating and sharing regarding the incorrect representation, there were very few updates-

Even for this year's Budget 2023, Nirmala Madam's Saree was wrongly reported as Sambalpuri and some said Bomkai while others said- Berhampur Patta and belonging to Odisha. 

Many of the news publications were wrong. It was actually an Ilkal Saree, a GI handloom of Karnataka, India.

In July 2022, President Droupadi Murmu’s swearing-in saree was not Santhali or Phuta saree of Odisha, and yet was incorrectly shared as that-

Last year, Trinamul Congress MP Mohua Moitra was gifted a Saree by Telangana that she tweeted as “Pochampally Ikat”, but it is actually a Sambalpuri Bandha Saree. The same design saree had been worn by Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi before.

This Twitter thread has more- 

Fact is- Khandua (and other Sarees) often get misbranded as Sambalpuri.

Just do a search for “Sambalpuri” on one of the online marketplaces and shopping sites like Amazon, Myntra etc. The search results will show Khandua Sarees like “Kargil Kumbha”, “Nabakothi” etc that are being tagged as Sambalpuri.

Even advertisements are misleading. 

What else can we expect? They pull out information from the listed products on their websites.

Wrong information on websites will give wrong results only, right?

Who is responsible for such misrepresentation in online sites?

The sellers.

What will the buyers learn?

What the sellers tell & sell!

When this writer asked some sellers why they are doing such wrong representation, they answered that because the name “Sambalpuri” is popular! 

I asked them- “why don’t you use own local name- “Khandua” first – the right name for the products?”

"Why don't you use it and make it popular?"

Popularity takes years to build.

How smart is it to latch on to a popular product and its goodwill and reputation by using its name.

This has been happening for several handicrafts of Odisha. The word Pattachitra is being used by neighbouring state for its products that were never called Patachitra in the first place.

More about Patachitra Copy and Misrepresentation #StopPattachitraMisuse  here-

We have to decide if we want to build a brand – or just milk the popular ones and murder our products?

Imagine if the right name Khandua had been used for the saree over the years, more people would have known of it. And some would be knowledgeable enough not to make mistakes as has happened in the recent marathon case.

Fact is-

Many people wrongly believe that all Odisha Sarees are called Sambalpuri.

ALL Odisha Sarees are NOT Sambalpuri.

No, Sambalpuri is NOT a synonym for "Odisha Handloom" Sarees.

Many wrongly believe this is so!

Sambalpuri is a type of a handloom of Odisha.

Khandua is another.

And we have many different weaves.

Fact is-

We know & share what we are told/informed.

How many can identify one Saree from another?

Khandua Sarees are NOT Sambalpuri Sarees & vice-versa.

Both are unique with their own GI Tag and own identity.

Fact is-

We will know & share correctly after we have the correct information.

Right information & representation is our duty & responsibility.

Let us all wear handloom & promote.

Our Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha also wears handlooms of Odisha - especially Khandua Pata.

Gita Govinda Khandua is His favourite.

There will be due recognition when people can identify, name and credit the products.

Fact is-

Though many have corrected on social media, the wrong information is still being shared and published and sadly will exist online forever as updates and corrections will not be there for many posts & reports.

However, it is also true that the right information is finding its way in the latest interviews and articles being published viz. Hindustan Times, Sunday edition, 23 April 2023-

How did the wrong info circulate in the first place?

This is because of the initial information that was shared via tweets and on social media.

Most mentioned Sambalpuri Saree and that is how the information spread from Twitter:



Media also shared and published the same and that is how Sambalpuri made it to the headlines of the news reports. 

Some media even interviewed Ms Jena Das. Initially as she was not aware, she shared what everyone else had told her that it is a Sambalpuri Saree. Being born and brought up in UK, she had categorically asked all her friends, who had moved to UK from Odisha. All had told her that it was a Sambalpuri Saree.

"People told me it was a Sambalpuri saree; that’s why I said it. I have many sarees from Odisha and this was one of my favourites as it was my mother’s." - Madhusmita Jena Das

"I saw a video in which Madhusmita Ji speaks about her attempt, and she mentions how "she loves wearing Sambalpuri sarees, and hence wore one"... so people have quoted her. Extremely proud of her feat, and as a handloom lover I support using correct names of the weaves" – Rosalin Dash

"It's sad to see many newspaper still don't collect correct data before publishing." - Sagarika Pati

Media relied on the info others provided. Journalists are always hard-pressed for time. They believe whatever the subject shares. They interviewed her and she told "Sambalpuri". 

Plus, so many verified handles also shared the same incorrect info. In such cases, there is hardly any cross-checking and the wrong info gets circulated and there is misrepresentation. Public believes the media and shares the same! 

Facts can & must express & allay the pains inflicted by misinformation.

We can share what we have been told/informed; else how will we be aware?

Unless we know & are aware, we cannot share & make others aware.

This is a cycle.

Ms Jena Das's friends shared what they knew, and as they did not know the right name, they passed on incorrect information.

No one knows everything. We all are learning.

We should get better with time thanks to our network and support.

Information needs to be shared.

"It should be highlighted." - Swati Sweta Rout

We Handloom lovers must do our bit too. Our duty & responsibility to share & to ensure correct representation. 

While creating GI awareness, I often express-

If those who know, don't care and share, then how will those who don't know be aware?

To fight misinformation, an ARMY is needed. Where are our motivated soldiers?

"I have been visiting every post in correcting the author. It was quiet a task but awareness is better than ignorance" - Padmaja Dash

It is said- "Sharing is caring". 

Why will anyone take the time & effort to share, unless they truly love & care? There must be "n" number of incorrect info posts. At least some of us have made an effort to share the right info in some of those.

And thankfully with the support of many others, together we have managed to share. However, the wrong info is still getting published based on previous misreporting, & the freshly published articles with misinformation are being shared!

"When in confusion, it is also better and safe to say Odisha handloom, instead of using misleading information" - Sangeeta Mohapatra

This is true when we are at least sure of the weave, and at least know about the origin- state. But, many times, people make a mistake about the state too e.g. by showcasing Odisha's Bandha Kala as Pochampally Ikat of Telangana's (as discussed above in the MP Mohua Moitra case) or the Ikat of Gujarat as our Odisha's Sambalpuri! Even the Ministry of Textiles has made such errors on their social media.

Some do this knowingly for their vested interests, while others have no clue as they rely on already published misinformation. 

Result- Misleading information is shared further and survives forever. When we are not sure, it is better to ask the experts.

"In fact, I have experienced the same in Odisha as well. Some of them would be selling Pochampally Ikat saying (that they are) new designs of Sambalpuri. Once I was so fumed that I ended up slashing them back and blue." - Sangeeta Mohapatra

The weavers/sellers need to be informed. They cannot copy other handloom designs and pass off as new designs of Odisha! They are welcome to use their creativity but certainly not at the cost of others GI & local products. Our traditional weaves must not lose their respect & credibility. 

Is our rich UTKALA- Utkrushta Kala rajya so poor that we have to pass off others signature motifs as our own? Unless we share all these issues with them, who else will?

"Even the media has covered it as Sambalpuri saree... And yes, people are blindly following them."- Srutakirti Tripathy

In spite of information being shared by many with media, did they make correction/update and accept their mistake and share the right news in fresh corrected reports/posts? 

Answer- BIG NO. Then, how will the public be aware? Misinformation continues this way.

"They are not ready to admit their mistake in fact. However, we have to share this info more and more and try to make it correct..." - Srutakirti Tripathy

Media has great power and is trusted. Hope they realize this responsibility. Meanwhile, we will be true to our identity & continue to perform our duty and responsibility. Thanks to all our combined efforts & Mahaprabhu's grace, we should be able to make a difference

"With great power comes great responsibility."- Spiderman movie quote.

Media has great power.

Others trust.

Official handles used same info in write-up.

Exactly most of then are unaware about the correct fabrics in handloom.

Leave alone media and officials, how many producers/makers themselves know?

They will know their own art & heritage weave. They will know what they know.

They will not know about all the handlooms of Odisha or our rich country’s rich weaves. It is just not possible even on the part of the weavers, who can at best represent their own weave.

Plus, now is the age of copying etc. that makes identification of handlooms even more challenging.

Whether the material or design is original or copy?

Even what is being sold as "silk" sarees may not be silk.

Most of us are unaware. There are so many products in our state & country! We know when we are informed. Correct info & representation is a must. But, it is very challenging.

Requesting all who published incorrect news with Sambalpuri to publish another post/report with correct info- Khandua.

When we aren’t aware & don’t know/share correct name, we become a party to misinformation & misreporting. Wrong info exists in cyberspace unless updated. Khandua & other Sarees are often erroneously mentioned as Sambalpuri or simply as handloom saree by not even mentioning the name of Odisha state.

Choice is ours-

Whether we continue to keep quiet and watch the wrong info, or employ fire-fighting techniques?

Or put in efforts for constant awareness creation and not have any such fire at all?

There is no smoke without fire.

By not taking action, we are tacitly allowing and feeding such fire, and have to live with the smoke.

This is true for all the local products - and not just this handloom example.


This is what bothers me- 

Will all those who have shared incorrect info ever edit their online posts/articles/news reports or publish fresh posts/reports with the correct info?

Are we accountable to revise or update?
Is it important to post and share the right info?

Several past local & GI products events & publications regarding Rasagola, Chhenapoda, Sambalpuri etc are testimony about our "chalta hai" and "take it easy" attitude.

Why should some people stress on #correctrepresentation ?

The event is successful.
The achievement is glorious.
Our Odisha & India has earned due credit thanks to our Odia girl.
We all are rejoicing & smiling.

Why bring up issues that make many uncomfortable?
Is it fine to live with the incorrect information forever in cyberspace?

The reason why this writer has been pursuing local and GI issues so relentlessly is because it concerns our identity.
Have been sharing with all concerned right from #OdishaRasagola GI application-
Anything we publish and share has a lifetime plus validity just like Life Insurance Corporation- LIC's tagline- "zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi"- with life and after life.

Correct information needs to be shared for people to be aware.
The motto should not just be for "news" publication.

Is the news right? Who checks the facts & truth & verifies?
Some media publish multiple reports of the same news as it is "in the news". News is being milked and served to the eager audience - the consumers who have no idea about what they are being served. 

They believe everything as media is credible. In this race, facts are murdered and new stories are created. 

We know as we have personally been a part of many such cases.

When my sister Amrita Sabat & Brand Utkalamrita sent the Shri Ganeet i.e. Maths Saree Sambalpuri Bandha to Actress Vidya Balan's Team and she wore it for the Shakuntala Devi movie e-promotion, there were posts and reports with misinformation and unfair claims.
Some of them are listed here-

Had there been no attempts on our part to present correct information, would the real weaver of the saree ever have earned his due?

Why can't right info be shared- by directly quoting and sharing the newsmaker's own words?
When I spoke to Ms Madhusmita Jena Das, she expressed her surprise about the wrong info viz her age, saree details etc that has been attributed to her in the media. Many of them have not contacted her and have directly shared info from other media. That ways, the wrong information is being re-shared and viral.

Updates are needed for correct information access and representation.
Everyone does not know everything.
We must learn and share from trusted sources.

Feel free to ask the experts.
Or ask the concerned people who ask the experts.
There is so much to know that this lifetime is not enough and I will continue to be a learner & researcher, trying to learn from experts & to share.
When I first saw this particular news, and though I knew the name of the saree as Khandua, I still asked the experts - ex Odisha Govt Handloom Deputy Director, Sri Surendra Patra hailing from Nuapatna, Cuttack, & ex Odisha Govt Textiles designer, Sri Prafulla Meher from Sonepur district.

Don't we fail our duty & responsibility if we do not uphold our identity, culture, facts and truth?
What will others learn from us?

We are very delighted and proud of Madhusmita Jena Manchester Marathon efforts. Kudos to her initiative to promote her mother's saree and our culture.
Thanks to her, now more people know the names of our sarees, and may they be inspired by her.
Appreciate that she is doing her bit to educate all about the correct name via her interviews and bytes.

Not just about the name of the saree, many media do not know the language of Odisha is ODIA and that the spelling of state has been changed from Orissa to ODISHA. They still continue using wrong spellings.

Leading newspaper, The Times Of India, also got Odisha's geographical location wrong.

No, Odisha is NOT located in the Northeast. Odisha is in the East of India.

A simple Google search - 20 April 2023- shows these results for Sambalpuri-

These will exist forever unless updates are made.

Some Questions for you, dear Reader-

  • Is it okay to call all sarees as Sambalpuri?
  • Had you heard of Khandua sarees before?
  • The Manchester Marathon Saree is now 45 years old. Do you think the exact design saree – body motifs, border and aanchal now being made at Cuttack district’s Nuapatna, Maniabandha, Tigiria etc places?
  • Why are Khandua sarees now using Sambalpuri and other saree motifs?
  • Why traditional sarees with original local motifs not being woven more and being made available?
  • Madhusmita Jena Das’s mother had worn it in the days following her wedding. Earlier Khandua Nabakothi Sarees were worn by brides. Are brides now opting for Odisha Handloom and more specifically for Khandua Sarees for their weddings?
  • Did you know that Khandua Saree & fabrics is a GI handloom?
  • Did you know that the Gita Gobinda Khandua is the favourite garment of Shree Jagannatha Mahaprabhu?
  • Are you aware that this type of calligraphic textile- i.e. that which has handwoven text with Gita Govinda, is also one of the 5 iconic weaves of Odisha in the list of UNESCO’s 50 iconic weaves of India?

Do share your views in the comments below.

All must buy, wear, use and gift our local products like handlooms, and share and promote.

More info in this Twitter thread-


  1. Thanks for clarifying. I had sleepless nights worrying about this.

    1. Thank you so much. Smiled a lot reading your second sentence :) :) :)

      Truly affected by misinformation and the thought that the misreporting will survive forever in cyberspace...
      Would love to know the answers to the questions asked at the end.
      Had you heard the names- Khandua or Sambalpuri before? Please share.

  2. Welcome to my Blog!
    Thanks for reading and for your appreciation :) Glad you liked it.
    Would have loved to know your replies to some of the questions asked.


Your words mean a lot to me.

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