‘Mother’s Mekhala: Celebrating our Mothers through their Textiles’

The ‘Ama’ mekhalas with the five bands of increasing width woven on to one cloth signifying the identities of a mother playing the pentagon role of a daughter, sister, woman, wife & mother. (Morung Photo)

The ‘Ama’ mekhalas with the five bands of increasing width woven on to one cloth signifying the identities of a mother playing the pentagon role of a daughter, sister, woman, wife & mother. (Morung Photo)

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | May 11

“Her father, the first medical doctor from their tribe, was murdered by the Naga underground in the 1950s on the pretext of being a “CID” for the Indian government. Her mother was just thirty two years old when she was widowed with seven young children. Along with her mother and her elder brother, at the tender age of twelve, she had to begin sharing the responsibility of raising the sprawling, fatherless brood.”

This is the story of Ethel Kevichüsa, née Ngully as shared by her son, Kethoser Aniu Kevichüsa for a collaborative series on “Mother’s Mekhala: Celebrating our Mothers through their Textiles” initiated by “Mamas By Grace” and “Mekhalamama.”

As Kethoser Aniu Kevichüsa would recall, his mother was a trained stenographer and not only did she rear domestic animals, maintained gardens, and sewed and knitted garments, but also supplied home-baked items to groceries. Among the many precious memories of his mother, he also recalled that his “mother also quietly but consistently supported work among the most weak and vulnerable sections of society abused young women” wherein Miqlat Ministry was the focus of her support for several years.

Faced with several major health issues including two different cancers, Ethel Kevichüsa, née Ngully passed away in March 2023. For the Mother’s Mekhala Series, she is seen clad in the “Lohe chiecha.”

For Dr Petekhrienuo S Khuvung, the film of memory in which she gets all her yarns entangled as her mother and she worked on her initial tryst with weaving on her little loin loom weaving set is still vivid in her mind. Expressing that it is her absolute honour and privilege to wear the clothing of a woman who awe-inspires her, she further said, “being a mother of twelve, not a single time did she shout at any of her children, let alone raise her hands. Come rain or shine, she envelops us with her prayers bathed in her love that is sublime, making none of us ever feel second to another.”

Ketousieno Prescilla Khamo wrote of her mother’s mekhalas and shawls and articulated that, “as I grow older, I realise the importance of it all- of love and history that are both tangible and ethereal.” “So thank you mother for this gift and for all the things, the physical and the abstract that you pass down to your children.” she further expressed.

Mention may be made here that the Mother’s Mekhala series is a collaborative initiative of Zedino Seyie and Theyiesinuo Keditsu, whose avatar as mekhalamama has single-handedly revived interest and awareness in Naga textiles as well as brought new value to the work of women entrepreneurs, local businesses and made in Nagaland products.

The collaboration was designed for a special Mother’s Day mekhala by putting together a one of a kind Mother’s Day gift involving the quintessential mother’s attire – mekhala.

Designed by Theyiesinuo, “this mekhala has five bands of increasing width that represent our identities as daughter, sister, woman, wife & mother- woven on to one cloth because we are all these roles at once.” Entrepreneur cum designer, Moala Longchar was also roped in for the production of this particular mekhala.

As they were developing the ‘Ama’ mekhala, and reflecting on the many cultural and personal meanings of mekhala, the idea of collaborating on a series that featured contemplations of mothers through their textiles was also born.

Collaborating through their respective social media accounts @mamasbygrace and @mekhalamama, the series featured personal stories of women told through the voices of their children. “The response to these stories has been overwhelming characterised by an outpouring of appreciation for the mothers who have been featured and enabling people to celebrate their mothers,” they articulated.