BIJIYASHANTI : The Unsung Heroine Crafting Clothes from Lotus Stems

A young Manipuri entrepreneur named Bijiyashanti Tongbram has earned notoriety for her use of lotus stems to make mufflers and neckties.

"हर नया विचार एक नए अवसर की शुरुआत होती है।"

One of the most inspiring real-life examples of entrepreneurship in India is the story of Bijiyashanti Tongbram, the founder of SANAJING SANA THAMBAL , a company producing lotus fabric clothes items and employing unemployed women.

Early life

She was born in 1993 in Thanga Tongbram village in Bishnupur district of Manipur state. Her mother is Chanahal Tongbram, while her father, Jai Kumar Tongbram, works as a field assistant in the district's fisheries department of Manipur Bijia graduated with honors in Botany from GP Women's College, Imphal in 2014.


Bijiashanti's original goal was to start agritourism in her hometown after graduating in 2014. However, her plans were not carried out to the fullest extent due to a lack of funding. Shortly after, a family friend informed her about the possibilities of developing other products from Lotus fiber which is when Bijiyashanti decided to join entrepreneurship training and programmes on aromatic and medicinal plants organized by Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.

In 2018, she started extracting fibers from Lotus, and in May 2019, she began working full-time with local women to design garments and other items. To extract and enlarge the fiber from the lotus stem, her team of ten ladies breaks the stem at the length of a thumb. The fiber is then hand-rolled to the appropriate size using their palms and the wooden plank. On a loin loom, the fiber taken from the lotus stalk and stems is spun into yarns that are used to weave scarves, neckties, and garments.

Entrepreneurship Journey

After discovering how to separate the fiber and spin the thread, Bijiyashanti founded her own business, "Sanajing Sana Thambal" and made the decision to instruct other women in her town in the same process.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently praised Bijiyashanti for her creative ideas, which opened the door for a barrage of directives, in his Maan Ki Baat radio programme. Bijiyashanti and its goods made from aquatic plants were chosen for Start-Up Manipur's agricultural tourism category. In addition, she was chosen, along with thirteen other women from the state, for the Her and Now incubator initiative.

The rise of Bijiyashanti Tongbram from Manipur to the forefront of sustainable fashion is evidence of the strength of ingenuity and perseverance. She has skillfully combined history and contemporary by turning lotus stems into beautiful clothing, carving out a special place for herself in the fashion business. Her initiative supports ecologically friendly techniques, develops local craftspeople, and protects Manipur's rich cultural legacy. The life of Bijiyashanti is an inspiration, showing that unorthodox concepts may become ground-breaking realities through imagination and perseverance. Her commitment and spirit of entrepreneurship are opening doors for a more inclusive and sustainable fashion industry.

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