Monday, 2 November 2015

The 6-Yard Journey

As my birthday countdown came to an end, I was in a dilemma. To continue or not - that was the question! I had realised, the blog had rekindled my liking to write, and share; so I decided to keep this space alive, by continuing to blog.

The latter half of October, we were in East-India (I should probably blog about different experiences from the trip, sometime in the near future, before my memory gets hazy!) The holiday saw me draping the 6-yard saree, pretty much every day, much to my mothers' delightful surprise!
On one of our early morning train rides, by the countryside, it serendipitously occurred to me, that the different hues of the sarees I was wearing during the trip, could actually make a rainbow: VIBGYOR!

What's even more amazing was the discovery that each day, I was in fact draping different weaves from across the country! As the train chugged towards Howrah, Kolkata, I was reeling in sheer awe and wonder.

I had also read about the #100SareePact, to revive the elegant, sensuous garment: Saree; where women across India vowed to wear Sarees a 100 times, before the sun set on NYE 2015-2016. I have only just begun on my 6-yard journey, and my collection is probably just over a quarter of a century :D But, as I researched more about these, I realised I was actually sitting on a treasure! :P
So here's showcasing the sarees I wore during my recent trip to motherland. :)

1. Cotton-silk, inspired by Kancheepuram silk sarees, from down-south

This was the first saree I draped, on my recent sojourn at Berhampore, West Bengal. In simple cotton-silk, it was uber comfortable, especially with the scorching sun overhead. I put on some pearls with a golden locket, to go with the white-stone studded golden border of the saree. Didun (Prantik's grandma went all "Bah! Khoob Mishti" at me :)
I had first worn this one at the college annual campus dinner, about 7 years ago (when my mum had driven to the hostel to help me and my close friend dress up!) I had clearly shed some weight since then;) Yes, I wore this solo! And this was only the beginning...

2. Chiffon, with Gujarati (west-India) embroidery

The next day, I chose to wear the red chiffon saree, which was hand-embroidered by Didun herself. Inspired from a Gujarati embroidery design she had seen on a calendar, she had very patiently made a carbon copy of it and translated it onto this light, simple saree, for her daughter's (my mom-in-law's) wedding, 35 years ago. And all those years later, it was passed onto her grand-daughter-in-law i.e. me, on my wedding day, and I was brimming with all the excitement, for finally getting to pose with Didun herself (who was overjoyed and couldn't stop showing me and the saree off to her friends), by the holy Ganges. Blessed moment indeed!

3. Ghicha silk, hailing from Central India

Ghicha refers to the silk derived differently from the raptured cocoon. Without going into much procedural details, the highlight of this saree was just how light it felt! As we were exploring village and tribal (Aadivasi) Durga Puja scenes at Shantiniketan, the designs on the saree were befitting if I may say so. And it even blended well, when we were amidst palatial ruins at Raipur. Beauty in forgotten glory, to behold!

4. Mekhela chador, from Assam (North-East India)

A two-piece drape, classically worn by the Assamese women; this beautiful weave has been introduced into the national saree scene and am I glad! Each saree has a colourful story nestled within the entirely hand-woven fine embroidery. And it sits in silence, beseeching the audience to appreciate and admire. Anyways, I was just amused that I could even figure out how to wear one without using YouTube or WikiHow :P I paired it with a contrasting elbow length blouse in green, which I matched with some green ear-rings, that I had picked from a random street in Bangalore as a teenager :D
My aunts were impressed that I managed to figure out how it's supposed to hug the body ... though in hindsight, I realised the pleats are supposed to be facing the right, instead of the left (unlike the usual saree) in the traditional manner of draping a Mekhela. Ah! Next time.

5. Banarasi silk, from up-north

While most South Indian bridal trousseaus are filled with primarily Kanjivaram silk sarees, I was blessed in having a beautiful and bountiful variety, including the much coveted Banarasi silk sarees! One of the wedding day sarees was in fact an off-white and sindoor red Banarasi silk. One that I hadn't worn during the wedding celebrations was a light pink one - and I chose to wear it for the Ashtami Puja. Mughal inspired designs in intricate and elaborate gold, against the fine pink silk was gorgeous, and no words can do justice to it. Specially handpicked by my in-laws, it was a saree one could fall instantly in love with, even ignoring the fact that it's quite a heavy saree to carry off! But I did so, with panache, in Mughal style ;) Why not? 

6. Shantiniketan-Batik silk saree (East India)

From Tagore-Land, this supremely light saree was a pure delight to wear. I can't believe I actually wore a saree for a casual outing to the movie theatre, but Indian festivals can push you to utopia, one that is hard to get back to ground from :D In brick-red and black designs, I absolutely loved it; I actually see myself wearing this saree more often than the other grander ones! And of course, it had a strong element of Batik, hailing from Indonesia, where I spent my entire childhood - so additional brownie points. 

7. Dhakai/Jamdani saree, from the neighbouring country-Bangladesh 

Often made in contrasting hues,  the Dhakai is a cotton weave from a part of the globe, which less than a century ago, was still part of Bengal, India. Fresh and new, the cotton saree is relatively stiff and is quite a task when you're heading out early morning. But as we were hopping across the heritage pujas across the city, I was glad I picked this one. Not too flashy, with blue-grey pearls around the neck; and an elbow length cotton blouse, this attire spelt serenity and grace all over.

8. Laal-Paar Shada Saree, of Bengal (East India)

A Durga Puja cant-do-without! Married into a Bengali household, partaking in my first Durga Puja since the wedding, I was quite excited to be wearing the traditional, Bengali style saree, in red and white, for the Sindoor Khela (where married women apply sindoor on the Goddess' forehead and then on each other, in joyful spirit). What made it even more special was that it was picked by the dear husband, on a previous trip to Kolkata. My mom-in-law obviously had to help me drape this one as (i) we were running short of time and (ii) I had no frikking idea on how it's worn! I put on the silver-brass Hindolam ear-jackets to go with the border. And well, the husband silently complimented me by staring at me open-mouthed ;) So mission accomplished :D

9. Mysore silk, from down south again

This absolute beauty caresses the skin like none other. A gem from Mysore, these mulberry silk sarees are heavenly simple, without elaborate designs over the body. The pallu boasts of royal floral designs, and it's one of the easier sarees to drape and strut around; which is why I chose to wear it during the pre-wedding period and also, this trip during Maa's birthday celebration at home, when I was slightly under the weather; the saree was kind and comforting in its own smooth way.

10. Chiffon saree, designer-waale, or not, from Commercial Street, Bangalore :P

I had picked this non-conventional hue for my college farewell ceremony. I remember my best friend giving me a disapproving laugh when I told her I had picked yellow, of all colours! But in the end, the saree was in fact perfect for that night. Just like it was for a dear friend's pre-wedding, Sangeet night in Gurgaon, Delhi. Best kind of stuff to rock and roll and do some 'thumkas' in :D

11. Another chiffon saree, my first online buy - I've no idea where it's from :D

This was my first trial with online shopping for sarees and I was quite satisfied with the product. My dear mom helped me stitch a blouse for it, despite her mad packing schedule. I wore it in record 5 minutes! While Prantik was rushing to get his turban tied! Haha! Some sarees have stories woven over them, some have memories strung around them - this was clearly the latter. A warm moonlit night, reliving our own wedding, almost 11 months ago and enjoying some soulful music, while witnessing good friends tying the knot, in holy matrimony. 

And thus, with that saree, our Durga Puja trip came to an end. Every day was a new experience, a new memory. And with every new saree I wore, I created a new cherishable memory around it, enough to last me for this lifetime. I don't know when and where I'll wear sarees this often, in the future. All I know is the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step (or in the saree context, the chronicle of a #100sarees begins with a few!) And I've taken mine! It's been a pleasurable journey of discovery, thus far. Can't wait to keep adding to the collection, more hues, more weaves, more stories...