Padmashali or Padmasali is a Telugu weavers’ caste or social group found largely in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. They are identified by different names in various regions through out India.
There are two interpretations for the origin of the word “Padmashali” and its group, one from Vaishnava group and one from Siva. Some anthropologists believe it is derived from Sanskrit word meaning ‘silk cloth’.The word Padmashali has very deep meaning in Hindu mythology. The Vaishnava group interprets that the word Padmashali is a combination of two words, viz., padma and shali. The word “Padma” is sahasradala padma, meaning the highest order of human intelligence. In body chakras “Padma” refers to sahasrara. The word “Shali” in Sanskrit is “be holder”. Thus “Padmashali” literally means holder of sahasrara. In physical term it means intelligence. ‘Padma’ also refers to ‘Lotus’. The Lotus also refers to the intelligence or awakening of sahasrara.
The Siva group has different interpretation – to account for their origin it is said that in order to clothe the nakedness of people in the world, Siva commissioned Markandeya to perform a sacrifice and one Bhavana Rishi came out of the holy fire, holding a lotus flower Padma in his hand. He married (twice Prasannavati and Bhadravathi, daughters of Surya) (The Sun) and had a hundred and one sons, who all took to weaving cloth out of the fiber of the lotus flower men to wear, and became the progenitors of the one hundred and one Gotras of this caste. God Surya being pleased with what they did, gave them a fifth veda called Padma Veda; and so people of this caste say that they belong to Padma Sakha and Markandeya Sutra analogous to the Sakhas, Sutras and Gotras of the Brahmans.
Present day Padmashalis:
Today, Padmashalis are spread in the Indian states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and also in parts of Maharashtra, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The mother tongue of most members of the community is Telugu, even in areas where they have migrated generations ago, practice the art of weaving. Some of them have even opted for alternate professions. Shatika is obligedto these padmashalis to keep the handloom sarees sector alive.As we celelbrate our anniversary ,we would like to salute them for their intensity and dedication to weaving. Shatika has very close links with the weavers and we honour them on our anniversary special as they have never let us down.