Despite the Fact it was my “Go-to-Garment” of choice for all my interviews , Group discussions & other formal events when doing my MBA , the Sari was not my preferred daily wear . My choice then stemmed from a desire to stand out from the sea of Black-grey-white Formal suits . Exclusivity was always my penchant . The monochrome Pant-suits I felt took away my feminity . It took the Sari to strike the balance between monotony ,preserving feminity and looking sharp .
My mother like all other mothers had an eclectic and enviable collection of saris . Kosas , Soft Silks , Kanjivarams , Kota Dorias , Chanderis …From his travels all across the country my father would get Saris to add to my mother’s collection . I have often whiled away many afternoons playing house draped in my mother’s cottons with my cousins …I have seen mothers and grandmothers drape this garment effortlessly and carry on the daily affairs from cooking , cleaning , catching the bus , riding the bicycle with practiced ease .
The first sari that I wore was a lovely Firozi blue printed silk for my school farewell . 14 years later I still have it & every time I wear it happy memories of that Sunny January day come flooding back . I continued wearing Saris after this but only occasionally; cousin’s weddings , Festivals , Get togethers …
My love affair with the Sari began much later , after I moved to Delhi that is . My Father-in-Law is a great connoisseur of saris . Not only does he enjoy seeing people wear sarees but also loves shopping for it . Gifted with impeccable taste , each one of his sari gift is a treasure . After my mother-in-law passed away in 2012 we were faced with the prospect of dealing with her saree collection . Dhakai’s , Jamdani’s , Bomkai’s, Printed Silks , Kota dorias each one was a masterpiece . Not having the heart to give the treasures away , we packed away the saris .
Post my son’s birth ,rolls of fat and multiple tyres made wearing Jeans & Kurtas a depressing proposition . And that’s when I found solace in this 5 meter drape of varied hues , prints & fabrics . Shape & size agnostic , the sari draped beautifully to hide the extra inches on my waist .I started wearing saris to work and lo and behold , compliments started pouring in by the dozen . That was the watershed moment in my Sari journey and there has been no looking back from there . The Sari with its colors , drapes (with the right amount of pins to hold the pleats in place) ,great many weaving traditions ensures that the wardrobe remains a busy place .Zari work ,Brocade , Embroidery , Chiffon , there is a sari for every occasion . Regal Kanjivarams ,Royal Banarasis , Diaphanous Chanderis , Grand Gadwals ,Riotous Maheshwaris ,Flirty Lehariyas , Breezy Chiffons ,Queenly Paithanis ,Proud Patolas ,the Graceful Kasavu’s of Kerala ..Like I said one for every Occasion …And that also can be customized as per your age & occasion with Lace trimmings , Brocade borders ,Fancy Blouses in contrasting colors . It lends a timeless sophistication to the wearer still retaining its sensual appeal .
I now wear saris to work , for lunches , for brunches , for casual outings & don’t tire of it . And my Husband does not tire of getting me saris .My mother happily parts with her favorite ones for her favorite one’s newfound love . A cool arrangement I say .
I much rather prefer hand loom saris to machine made/Chinese variety . After all , you can’t get a masterpiece for a pittance . For me , it’s like reclaiming a moment lost in time , reclaiming a piece of hand-crafted tradition and breathing life into it . It is like a piece of my heritage ; Just like Carnatic music , just like Bharatnatyam , that I hope to leave behind for the forthcoming generations . The magnificence of the sari is the singular ability to transcend time across generations , across ages .The sheer variety itself is mind-boggling . I now have a wish list for saris that I want to own .Tussars with Parsi border , Assam silk , Patan Patolas( that will cost me a small fortune) , Madhubanis ..Sigh,sigh
I have found saris to be great conversation starters . Conversations freewheeling to inherited saris , sari shops , sari blouses and soon one is part of a sisterhood of saris
So really what are saris …Saris are but masterly 9 yard narratives painstakingly charted on looms , to make way into our wardrobes , into our lives , into our memories , into our legacies inherited and bequeathed …..