The 6-Yard Wonder | Flash Post 446
Button, I first wore a sari at 18 when I went to work.
What was it like? Did you wear it because you wanted to or because you thought it was the right thing to do? Did your parents have a say in the matter?
I wore dresses, skirts and tops and kaftans like any other young girl growing up at home, when we went out to visit relatives, for picnics and to Sunday mass but, once I got a job, I knew it would be proper to wear something formal like a sari. The salwar-kameez—which I wear at home these days because it’s easy, comfortable and less time-consuming—wasn’t even an option because I had not worn one or seen any of my relatives dress in one so I stuck to the good old sari and got my mother to help me with the draping.
It’s such an elegant attire.
“Sari” in Sanskrit means “strip of cloth”. And for Indian women who have been wrapping themselves with yards and yards and yards of silk, cotton, linen, polyester and chiffon, there’s no other attire as graceful and unique as the sari. To think that it’s 6 yards (sometimes even 9) of fabric you can have fun with and drape it anyway you please makes it the most versatile of attires and an attire that will never go out of fashion.
I don’t have the patience to drape the pallu pleat by pleat like a lot of women do but prefer draping it casually teaming it with a loose choli and nonchalantly flinging the pallu over my left shoulder. Others take the pallu around and bring it over the right shoulder and tuck it in on the other side. In Kolkata, women wear the sari in a very different manner and tie their cupboard keys to their pallu. In Maharashtra, women drape the sari in a manner where the front pleats are taken and tucked at the back. You also have readymade saris these days which is the least time-consuming since it needs no draping. All you have to do is zip it up from the back like a dress and throw the pallu over your shoulder. The possibilities are endless.
I see you wear saris when you go out for formal occasions. You also wore tangails and simple cotton saris at home not so long back but the pandemic changed that.
The track pants I wear now are my work clothes and it’s very convenient to do stuff around the house in them because they don’t come in the way and it’s less cloth to manage!
I think the younger generation of working women prefer to dress more in Western formal clothes than Indian. Both didis, for instance wear western attires everywhere—be it to work, meetings and even to parties and formal occasions.
Times have changed. Globalisation has made a huge impact in the way we dress, the food we eat and the movies we watch. But I was surprised to find that the sari is the chosen attire and more than 70% women continue to wear it.
Tell our readers the role saris play in the making of the kantha or desi duvets.
Kathas are made by stitching old saris together. It’s an art form and women in Indian villages sit down after a days work and lay out old and used saris one on top of the other and stich them by hand from one end to the other—vertically as well as horizontally—so each sari stays in place even after many washes. They are soft to the touch and cuddly. I remember my maternal grandmother stitching one for me for my birthday.
How do you feel each time you drape 6 yards of cloth around you?
Empowered to say the least.