Diwali declutter means upcycling mum’s old sarees, say young denizens

Delhi-NCR’s young fashionistas are cleaning the wardrobe, and getting down to upcycling sarees of their mothers and grandmothers, for the festive season! From kaftans and skirts, they are making it all, and quite stylishly!
Delhi-NCR youngsters are repurposing old sarees of their mother’s and grandmother’s this festive season.
Delhi-NCR youngsters are repurposing old sarees of their mother’s and grandmother’s this festive season.
Published on Oct 26, 2021 05:26 PM IST
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BySiddhi Jain

New Delhi

As Diwali nears, most households would have already got down to cleaning every square centimetre of the home. And the youngsters who get stuck in this swachhta abhiyan can be often heard complaining: ‘Mummy, ab toh bas karo Diwali ki safai karwana.’ But that’s not the case with young fashionistas from Delhi-NCR, this year!

Taking it upon themselves to make the most of the task at hand, quite a few young denizens are upcycling their mother’s or grandmother’s sarees, which are being found wrapped in the former’s wardrobes and remain unused since forever. “I took out my mum’s 34-year-old Banarasi saree from her wardrobe; which Ma wore it for her wedding and it still had its sheen of the weaves and the motifs. I knew about it since I wanted to wear it to a friend’s virtual roka ceremony last year,” says Gurugram-based digital marketer Sanchita Bagchi.

A Banarasi saree worn by Sanchita Bagchi’s mother 34 years ago, is in the works at a tailor’s shop.
A Banarasi saree worn by Sanchita Bagchi’s mother 34 years ago, is in the works at a tailor’s shop.

Having crossed paths with the saree once again during Diwali cleaning this time, Bagchi finally dusted it off and took it to a tailor for a complete transformation. “Though the saree needs a little restoring work, but it will soon be transformed into a skirt that I will treasure for life. I wanted to make something of it, so that I could preserve this piece of heritage with me forever,” she adds.

Khaytee Sardana Wadhwa will creatively style her mother’s old sarees for Diwali parties this year.
Khaytee Sardana Wadhwa will creatively style her mother’s old sarees for Diwali parties this year.

And such is the case with Ragini Varma, a lifestyle influencer with roots in Delhi, who has seemingly taken full fee for helping her mother with Diwali cleaning! “My mother has beautiful sarees that are packed away impeccably, and still retain their intricate craftsmanship even though they are decades old. When doing the annual Diwali cleaning, I stumbled upon her beautiful leheriya saree that has baroque mirror work, and I knew what was to be done while we had a conversation on how she had worn this so many times and now it lies in her closet but she doesn’t have the heart to part with it.”

Ragini Varma got her hands on her mother’s leheriya saree, during Diwali de-cluttering, and turned it into a kaftan!
Ragini Varma got her hands on her mother’s leheriya saree, during Diwali de-cluttering, and turned it into a kaftan!

Varma says she instantly knew she wanted to upcycle these beautiful six yards into a kaftan, so that the gorgeous saree “doesn’t suffer in (her) mum’s closet”. “The next step was identifying a tailor who could convert my vision into reality. We then ensured that the mirror work gets used in the collar of the kaftaan for a chic look. Apart from this, we regularly upcycle our clothes at home. Lehengas that I have worn 10 years back for some wedding often gets repurposed as a gorgeous suit for my niece! I’m trying my bit to ensure that we can consciously upcycle clothes and not let expensive pieces rot in the back of my wardrobe.”

For Gurugram-based student Pritish Ghoshal, the idea of any festival is defined by “finding mum’s sarees”. He regularly drapes them, to complete his ethnic look. “The untouched section of her vintage collection has very old sarees (some of my aunts’, some my maternal grandmothers’, and some hers). Pairing these Kantha, pochampalliy, Benarasi, jamdani, or dhakai, with my kurtas of different shades, is what’s always on my mind! I feel draping a dhoti is a matter of pride for every Bengali man out there. And if that dhoti or saree is your mum’s, you tend to take and pass the sentiments of the senior generations forward, but in style.”

Pritish Ghoshal looks forward to draping his mother’s sarees as dhoti, for an ethnic look during festivals.
Pritish Ghoshal looks forward to draping his mother’s sarees as dhoti, for an ethnic look during festivals.

Though this endeavour, these youngsters are also saving up big on Diwali purchases, alongside breathing a new life into memorable pieces of clothing that they’ve seen their mums wear. “Purchasing fancy outfits and styling it to look perfect and flaunting was always my passion but this time Diwali de-cluttering has made it more creative and unique,” says Khaytee Sardana Wadhwa, a Delhi-based social media consultant, adding, “The Diwali cleaning activity has gave me a super challenging idea to make this festival different. I’ve always had a soft corner for all kinds of sarees, and while cleaning up my mom’s wardrobe I decided to quit purchasing new outfits and invest my time and creativity in styling myself with her old satin sarees for Diwali parties this year.” And voila! Having innovatively draped the saree in a contemporary style with accessories, Wadhwa “just loves the way things have turned up”. She adds: Recycling old clothes not only gives you the freedom to style the clothes the way you want, but also enhances your inner personality and lets the clothes speak for you.”

Author tweets @siddhijainn

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Saturday, December 04, 2021