Memoirs of a Saree Devotee…

My instinctive response to traditional weaves developed and deepened with my upbringing. Conversations about Jamawar shawls, the delicacy of Minakari jewellery, the lyrical lines of a Kangra  miniature naturally spilled over into a pious appreciation for Indian textiles. 

Ironically, the first time I wore a sari it was, I recall, a chiffon. The choice was partly prevailing fashion, and part sheer common sense.

For the rather nervous novice, chiffon was light, easier to drape and manage. Since then, as  my exposure and acquaintance to the glorious intricate woven textiles and saris deepened, the partiality toward them grew into a committed romance. The butas, bel, jangla and jaal from the rich and intricate lexicon of Indian textile design, took on the personal narrative of the sari wearer. 

Apart from becoming links in the continuing documentation of social and cultural history, the sheer expanse of the textile canvas allows scope for nakshakars and weavers to experiment and indulge, to play with colour, texture and pattern.  

A dhoop-chhaon silk sari, the subtle elegance of a Jamdani muslin or the drapey fall of organza evokes a different response as against a tailored garment. The difference between a short story and a novel. 

For my generation, wearing a sari was a rite of passage. The girl child taking her first steps into womanhood. Needless to say, the excitement was tinged with nervousness. The initial few times were a collective session involving the entire female household.  At the end of it  the rather plain duck was transformed into an elegant, poised lady preening and twirling for the doting audience of grandmother, aunts, house helps, et al. 

To date, much as I love my jeans and casual work attire, wearing a sari adds that special touch to any occasion. That’s my salute to my femininity, my culture and my unique Indian identity.

– Mrs. Meera Sushil Kumar