Eastern Province has been traditionally famous for handlooms & textiles and has a centuries old history. Townships like Maruthamunai (Kalmunai) and Kattankudy (Batticaloa) in the region have been pioneers in the manufacture of handloom and the tradition of handloom weaving has been brought down from generation to generation. It is believed that the handloom industry in this region originated as far back as the 18th century and that people here produced handloom garments for the Kandian nobles.
Despite various challenges, eastern handlooms continue to command buyer appeal and have a good demand not only in the local markets, but also in foreign markets. Handloom sector is a livelihood mean for unemployed women, men and the entrepreneurial youth in the region. If you visit Maruthamunai or Kathankudy, you can observe that handloom industry has become a popular cottage industry there and provides livelihoods to a considerable number of people. You can also witness the “division of work” and “job specialization”, the two key concepts in economics is applied here in the industry. Some people do handloom weaving as full time job while some others are doing it as part-time job. The industry is labour intensive and consumes less electricity and utilities while generating higher employment. The tools and machines required for this industry are also locally made, while the main input, the thread is imported.