Terrible pun, yes, but who can deny the sheer joy we’re getting from the sudden splatter of colour on our timelines? With the viral #IWearHandloom on social media, textiles minister Smriti Irani has had us all furiously digging through our mothers’ and grandmothers’ glorious stash of Benarasi silks, Pochampally Ikats, Kanjivarams and more.
In the past decade, the humble garment may have been relegated to the back of the closets of much of urban India, but now we’re seeing a big change: designers are contemporarising traditional weaves, the handloom sector is on an upswing, and the Web is helping us all archive the stories behind our new and inherited treasures.
Here’s looking at all the recent social (media) movements that are reclaiming the saree – one yard at a time.
Last year, Bangalore-based entrepreneurs Ally Matthan and Anju Maudgal Kaudambi started #100sareepact after a casual conversation. The hashtag was a promise to themselves to get out of their jeans-kurta comfort zone, and make good of all the unworn sarees lying in their wardrobes. By wearing at least two a week, they would manage about 100 in a year, and track their progress on social media. Soon, women from other parts of India (and abroad) joined the brigade, sharing stories and memories behind their sarees. From elaborate wedding affairs and birthdays to airport farewells and simple grocery runs, the saree found renewed swagger.
For some, the draped garment became the ideal tool to fight xenophobia. Tanya Rawal, an Indian-American professor at the University of California, began #sareenotsorry as a teaching experiment, to dispel myths about the sari and examine social identities in the light of increasing racial attacks against Indians and other immigrant communities in America. “It is a symbol of grace... The sari can teach us how to move through this world with more kindness,” she wrote in a post on Medium. The hashtag soon became a recourse for other desi women to flaunt their lineage and send the message that ‘borders are for sarees’.
India saree challenge
It was a regular October day at a prominent mall in south Delhi... until 50 women, dressed in their best sarees, took to the floor and put up a synchronised performance to chartbusters like London Thumakda, Gallan goodiyaan and more. The flash mob was by Devditi, a platform founded by Sapna Khandelwal and Vandana Gupta, to encourage women to wear more sarees, and keep the tradition of weaves alive. Apart from the hashtag, other Devditi initiatives have included events like Saree Saga, where mediums like dance and fashion come together to celebrate the culture of draping sarees, so the saree does not “suffer the fate of the Japanese kimono”.
From HT Brunch, August 14, 2016
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch