Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sari Love - Parama and her quirky, crazy, whimsical sari style

Hello Sari-divas! I can’t wait to introduce today’s sari love guest. A sari buddy I met through the very first sari blog post I wrote here (I featured a sari picture from Byloom and it turned out, she was the model), I’ve loved her unique sari style for a long time. Quirky, whimsical, fun, full of fervor, her sari style is totally like the kind of person she is. Ladies, I’m pleased to welcome Parama Ghosh Ganguly, a lawyer and artist from Kolkata, who I promise, will blow you away with her fabulous sari style.



 Please tell us about yourself – what you do, where do you live, your interests, family.

I am a lawyer and an artist from Calcutta. Born to a family of four generation of lawyers, I was almost destined to be one. 9 years into the profession, I could clearly see that law and I had an about-okay marriage and the mind strayed in love-struck alleys. The law firm job was like a rich husband who would sponsor my travels, stilettos and bags, but the heart longed to lose itself in the dimples of a starry eyed lover. 


In February, 2015, I took the plunge and launched my dream venture “Parama” (Narcissicus is my middle name). The love for handloom, slow fashion, handmade art and inspirations from every day words, pages of books, scenes from films, lyrics of songs made the project what it is. In the initial days, I was battling a full fledged law firm job in the day and creating stories on handloom by night. I am now consulting with a start up law firm for 3 days and use the rest of the days for my project.     


I love to write. I write particularly about Calcutta (about roadside tea, conversations, cinema, roads, statues of Calcutta, book fair, “Why Bengalis are God’s greatest gift to mankind”, among other things) and also about other mundane happenings that makes my life colourful. My blog, “Potpourri” can be found here: http://paramaghosh.blogspot.in/

My other interests would include Rabindranath Thakur, traveling, biriyani, reading, cinema, photography, thick milk tea, conversations with cab drivers, Farhan Akhtar.


I absolutely love your sari style. How would you describe it?

I would describe my saree style as “carefree”. It is an extension of my (eccentric) personality. It is second skin. I have often boasted and bragged about this and shall repeat it again.  I can drape any saree in three flat minutes. It takes lesser time than it takes for any man to get ready. This explains saree for me in a nutshell. It is as every day and as effortless as putting a bindi on my forehead or applying kohl on the eye contours.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sari Love - Sadiya Kazmi and the soul of her sari style

Hello Sari-istas! I’m back with another sari love guest, and am happy to introduce Sadiya Kazmi, a social activist, fellow service wife and a friend. I love her casual chic sari style and the way she carries of her handwoven saris with elan. Like any fauji wife, Sadiya, lives and works from all across, and is currently based in Abu Dhabi.


 Sadiya, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Whatever I tell about myself has to be related to my love for sarees because whatever I do ,who I am and what I think is connected with my soul. And the word saree is just as much part of my soul and wraps up within its folds, everything I am and everything I do.



I take great pride in what I do - I am a social activist by profession. I chose this because staying true to oneself is very important for me in order to keep my sanity and honesty intact in my life. I work mostly with children and women, and take theatre workshops because that's what I am by nature and profession - a street theatre artist. My work allows me to share my belief and sentiments with. I choose social issues to portray in my theatre, something which I strongly feel about and love to spread this social awareness. It gives me immense pride when the concept is embraced enthusiastically by the people I work with .

And when I use words like enthusiasm, embrace, believe and soul, I feel like it's important to mention that I associate these with my love for sarees. I am married to an Air force Officer and I should give a lot of credit to my life as being a part of this organization that helped me build my confidence in wearing the saree the way I do today. I have been married for almost 19 years now and cannot imagine having embarked on this journey without tirelessly trying to prove that I can carry a saree and I love it.


 What does the sari mean to you, and what’s your sari style all about?

I stay connected with every saree I own because every time I drape it, every fold is an effort towards perfection and elegance that one needs to acquire as a proud Indian woman. It's the tradition, it's the history, it’s decades old of said and unsaid stories of women of all ages within the folds and weave of sarees. It's a part of our upbringing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sari Love – Priya Kadapa Shah and her eclectic sari style

Here's my next guest at Sari Love - Priya Kadapa Shah, an entrepreneur and educator from Mumbai, who wears her eclectic collection of handloom saris with panache.


Please tell us about yourself – what you do, where do you live, your interests, family.

I am a chartered accountant by profession, and a teacher by occupation. I run a coaching academy and teach accounts, costing, economics, finance and taxation as well as French to college students. And hopefully influence their career choices and also open up their horizons. I love finding new talent and promoting them and I help to organize exhibitions for designers. I am a voracious reader and a closet writer:)
.

I stay in Mumbai, with my husband who is perpetually travelling ;)and two kids- my daughter is 12 and son is 7.


I absolutely love your sari style. How would you describe it?

It's elegant with a dash of quirkiness and ethnic with a blend of the contemporary.


What kind of saris do you enjoy wearing, and what kind of occasions do you wear them for?

I am hard core cotton Saree person , I love Sarees that are thick and rough with a body and a texture. In silks, again I prefer thick silks like a Kanjeewaram or desi tussar or raw silks.

I don't really look for an occasion to wear a Saree- I think a Saree for me is an integral part of my life and wardrobe . I have worn Sarees on school runs, while grocery shopping, meeting friends and of course for family functions and social gatherings. And even on the beach as a sarong and with a jacket in the mountains.


Do you wear the sari the simple way, where you use what you have to create new styles or do you enjoy a more decadent style, with different kinds of blouses/jewellery/footwear (Please share photos)?

I wear it the simple way and have also worn it in newer styles for the fun element or to jazz up the old Saree by giving it a new drape.And yes, blouses are a great way to make the same Saree look different. I also love using accessories- could be Jewellry, or shoes or handbags or even sunglasses to add to my look. Doing my hair in different ways is also something I have experimented with along with newer Saree styles to jazz up the look.


What’s an interesting way to accessorize the sari, as per you?

One piece of statement Jewellry - could be earrings or a neckpiece or a hair accessory - and since I have a bag fetish- a bag that's too not too big or too small- and which matches the aesthetics of the Saree. Try using clutches, slings, jholas, ethnic totes, potlis- I tend to avoid very western looking glossy bags with the Sarees I wear. A proper bag will add so much more to the look of the Saree.


What’s your best tip for those who love the sari, but are hesitant about wearing it more often?

Start by wearing it once a fortnight for " non-occasions"- this will help to reduce your trepidation and people around you will get used to seeing you in a Saree :)

Wear it for your work or even at home or to a school meeting - you will get habituated to wearing it and working in it.


And trust me , the appreciation and compliments , said and unsaid that a Saree  invariable garners , will propel you further :)

Let your inner goddess shine!


Anything that you’d like to add?

A Saree is one of the most fluid and versatile garments - it hides and it shows. It conceals the flaws and displays the assets. It's such a forgiving and feminine attire and we have the shape to flaunt it :).

Join us at our Facebook page for a regular dose of sari style.

#saristyle #sarilove #sari #saree #handloomsari 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

6 Ways to carry off a super short hairstyle with your sari

I remember a friend growing out her hair. “I want to start wearing saris and a short hairstyle just won’t do,” was her reply.

At that time, I had longer hair and it made me wonder if chopping off my locks would affect how I’d look in a sari. Or rather, should it have an impact on my sari wearing or how I carried off the garment?


Fast forward a few more years - I had traded my barely long locks for a Paige boy cut, and was falling in love with the sari. After wearing saris with my short hairstyle, that’s swung between a longish paige boy cut to super short pixie cut, here are some ways that I get my sari look right with short hairstyle.

1. I make sure I get a good if not great hair cut. (Why I even settle for decent over perfect is that I move all across the country, and it’s only through trial and error that I discover some stylists who can do justice to a very short hair style. I’ve had the honor of going to some very well-known hair salons only to come out with a haircut that looked very much like the Gollywog’s. At the same time, I’ve gone to some very small places and come back with a haircut that’s made heads turn.) So, while the outcome of a haircut isn’t always mine to predict, I do feel if you’re wearing your hair short, a good haircut can make all the difference.


2. I use a kohl pencil to define my eyes. Most of the time, it’s the only eye make-up I do, but it makes all the difference and adds an edge to one’s face and even hair style.

3. Wear jhumkas or dangling earrings. Go wild and try very large earrings because with short hair, these will look awesome!


4. Wear a big, round bindi or a really intricate one. I favor the red, rising-sun like bindis, or lately, have been trying out orbs in black and other colors.

5. Wear a chunky nosepin or even a nath, if you like. With short hair, it’s all about breaking the stereotypes, and mixing a look that’s considered ‘western’ with the traditionalism of a sari.


6. Alternatively, if you want to do without a bindi or earrings, try just simple pearl tops for your ears, but a beautiful, statement necklace to play the contrast.

How do you like to style your sari look around a short hairstyle?

Join us on our Facebook Page for more tips and tricks on how to style your sari more sustainably.


#shorthairstyle #shorthair #saristyle #styleyoursari 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sari Love - Lyuba of Saree Times

Hello Sari-istas! It's been a while since the last Sari Love post. But here I am with a brand new interview with a sari-loving gal from Clovis, New Mexico. I got to know her through a message that she'd left after reading one of my sari posts and was pleasantly surprised to connect with another sari-crazy lady (the other sari-crazy person is me of course ;-)) from across the world. She wears the sari with just as much panache or more, and sports this garment with flair in a country where sari is not the norm.


 Ladies, I'm pleased to introduce you to Lyuba Johnson of Saree Times and her passion for handwoven saris. If ever you dither to wear a sari or wonder if it’s the right ‘occasion’ to wear one, Lyuba’s sari philosophy will nudge you to create your own special sari moments that are dear to you.
  
Q. Hello Lyuba! Please tell us more about yourself – where do you live, what do you do for work, your interests.

I’m originally from Ukraine, but currently live in Clovis, New Mexico, with my husband and three cats. I work for a nonprofit company that provides early intervention services. I run a Saree Times FB page and Instagram, but my other major interest includes Japanese kimono and my cats.

Q. How did you get introduced to the sari and fall in love with this garment that even several women in India find difficult to drape and carry off?
I grew up watching Bollywood movies in Ukraine, so I think my interest in saris was always in the back of my mind. What pushed me into finally giving sari a try was as simple and boring as my best friend in Ukraine telling me that she got a sari for herself.


Q. Where do you buy your saris from + source your blouses and all the accouterments that go with a sari (petticoats, sari falls etc.)?
When I first started collecting saris, I went with some major online retailers and bought the cheapest ones to try and figure out what “my style” was and what I liked. The saris were fine, but blouses were more miss than hit with the stitching. After a while I started an Instagram for SareeTimes and discovered all the Instagram sellers that specialize in handloom and, I believe, work directly with weavers. I was hooked, and now I shop though them only. These same sellers are amazing when it comes to blouses too, and I ask them to do fall/pico and petticoat whenever I get a new saree.
Anytime I visit a major city in the USA I look up potential sari shops and make a point to stop there. In fact, my favorite sari came from one of the shops I visited in Austin, Texas.
Q. What kind of saris do you love the best?
After I discovered cotton handloom saris, I have a hard time wearing anything else. The cottons are just perfect for our hot dry climate, and I am in love with the different colors and designs of the handlooms that I find. Recently I ended up buying few Khesh saris, which are quickly becoming my favorite because the idea of reusing old saris by adding them to new ones has a tremendous appeal to me.


Q. How do you create your sari style?
I discovered many years ago that I preferred clothes that were much more understated by themselves, but by combining them with interesting accessories I was able to coordinate outfits that would stand out when it’s all put together. The saris that draw my attention are almost always pretty plain by themselves. I don’t like big borders and a lot of gold. I will seek out saris that are either borderless or have a thin border. I love single colors and geometric designs, but at the same time I’m not afraid of bright colors.
I love pairing up contrast blouses with saris, and then throwing in a hat or a large tote bag. I’m not a big fan of jewelry, except statement bangles. Even bangles start to get in my way after couple of hours, so I end up taking them off.
Comfort is very important to me when it comes to saris. I always pleat and pin the pallu so it doesn’t get in a way. If it’s very windy, I put a belt on to hold down pallu even more. I also rarely wear high heels with saris, instead opting for cute sandals or low heeled shoes or boots.


 Q. Where do you wear saris to and what kind of reactions do you get?

I mostly wear saris on weekends, although sometimes I would wear a sari to our “Casual Fridays” to work. Honesty, there are not many places to wear a sari in Clovis, so I create my own reasons. So far I’ve worn it to go to coffee shops, shopping trips with friends, and going to home improvement store to pick out new floors for the house or just grocery shopping.

I’ve had very positive reactions from people on the streets. I get a fair share of double takes and staring, but I also get a lot of compliments. People like how bright the saris are, and I always see smiles when I walk by.


Q. I’ve been following your posts and see that you wear saris often. What draws you to this garment and how do you wear it with such flare in a country where saris are not the regular garment of choice?
I admire and appreciate the long, rich history of saris and its beauty, but as for wearing in the style that I do, I am just being myself!  I can safely say now that I got a flare for dramatics when it comes to everyday clothes regardless of what I wear.
I don’t purchase anything specifically for saris, instead I draw on what I already have in my closet and mix and match between Indian and Western wear freely. The same accessories you see me wearing with saris, I wear with my regular dresses. I believe that this type of approach does not put saris into separate “special occasions” category, but allows to see them as just another type of everyday garment.


Q. What tips would you have for anyone who wants to wear the sari often but is conscious about how others would perceive it (this issue is very relevant for women in India too because trousers and jeans are deemed to be modern outfits to reach out for, esp. for casual occasions)?

I apologize in advance, but this list might get long.

1.      Wear the sari somewhere you feel very comfortable at and bring a friend, even if that friend is not wearing a sari. You will feel better having someone friendly around you, who will help distract you from all the attention you will be getting. After a while, you won’t even notice the attention, the double takes, and the comments, which will be mostly positive anyway. You will stop caring about what other people might think too.
2.    Practice draping the sari at home. If you live in the middle of nowhere like I do, look through many different YouTube videos until you find one that works for you. It took me a while until I found a video that made the whole draping “click” in my mind, but after I did, I suddenly felt much more confident in my sari wearing.
3.    Many videos tell you to wear high heels with your sari. If high heels are not your things, don’t think that you have to wear them. Instead, wear the shoes that are the most comfortable for you.
4.    Prepare yourself for negatives, especially if you are non-Indian. I’ve been dealing with accusations of cultural appropriation when it comes to kimono for years, but the first time I got accused of it when it came to sari was still pretty hard on me. There will be many more people who will offer you the support and will be excited that you wear saris. Focus on positives.
5.     Don’t be ashamed if it takes you many pins or clamps to drape your sari. If it makes you feel more secure and comfortable in a sari, then use as many pins as you need. Once I got better at draping, I started to use a lot less pins. You’ll get to that point too, just don’t give up.
Don’t think about wearing saris as an occasion. Think of them as everyday clothes, and wear them for your everyday things. For me it means going grocery shopping, stopping for coffee or taking my cats to the vet.  As one of my friends said very well, don’t treat your casual sari as too precious, otherwise you won’t ever be able to wear it from worrying over the potential damage that might happen.

For more of Lyuba's sari updates, find her at Saree Times.

For more sari posts and sari interviews, visit us at our Facebook Page.

And here's are the Sari Divas that we spoke to at Sari Love and the entire sari style series.

#sarilove #saristyle #handloomsari #sareetimes

Monday, October 24, 2016

5 Nosepins to wear with saris

I’ve been wearing nose pins since I got my nose pierced in college. While earlier, they’d be tiny little sparkling stones or silver hoops, it’s only in this past year that I’ve begun exploring the bigger, chunkier nose pins. 


I started timidly, very unsure of how a big nose pin would sit on my nose, but soon got so hooked on to the look, that now if I go without any of these big beauties, I feel something’s amiss.

Image credit: Gaatha/Trajuva

What’s also a bonus is that these gorgeous big nosepins look amazing with saris. Just stick on a bindi, and you may not even miss your jhumkas or necklace, if you’ve got a coin-sized nosepin to accessorize.

Here are some of my favorite nosepins to sport with saris.


Silver flower nosepins: I’ve bought some from Levitate, an eclectic store in Bangalore, and wear them regularly. Shaped like little flowers with colored stones in the center, these are perfect combinations of spunk and tradition. I also like the ones from Gaatha, which are designed/curated by Trajuva and are inspired from Kutchi designs. Let them be your daily go-tos when your draping a simple yet beautiful Bengal cotton or a breezy Kota sari.


Large disc-shaped nosepins: These large nospins must look like the moon’s chosen to ride with you. Often in a filigree pattern and inspired by tribal patterns, large nosepins need panache and confidence to be carried off with a sari. I’d wear these with Chanderis or plain silks, and avoid teaming them with saris that are very elaborate or busy.

Image credit: Karmasuthra 

Eclectic or intricate nosepins: Whether it’s a peacock dancing to the tune of rolling thunder, or Lakshmi’s lotus ready to perch on your nose, there are some alluring designs available for choice. I love the nosepins by Karmasutra (as per their Facebook page, they’re giving nosepins a break while they focus on necklaces), and have noticed that they’re quite a favorite within the sari-loving community. I’d wear my eclectic nospins with Paithanis, Benarasis, Kantha silks and Kanjeevarams.

Nose rings: If you’re more of a nose ring kinda girl or just want some variety when it comes to your jewellery, wearing filigreed septum rings as nose rings can be the way to go. I even enjoy the idea of wearing dangling nose rings like these to a party and teaming them up with almost any kind of sari.


Maharashtrian nath: These confections with pearls and colored stones will look so lovely when teamed with a silk sari, for festivals or for parties. I could wear one of these traditional Maharashtrian naths for a festive occasion with any of my silk saris, but given a choice, I’d reach for my Baluchori silk to combine the beauty and culture of the two states that I owe my cultural aesthetics to.

What kind of nosepins do you enjoy wearing and with what kind of saris?

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#100sareepact #nosepin #handloom #wearhandloom #handloomsari #handmadesari #sarilook #saristyle 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

6 Simple ways to get dressed in a sari in 10-minutes or less

Hello sari-loving ladies! I’ve been away for a while – school holidays, social commitments, stints of sole parenting (part-n-parcel of fauji life) and figuring out ways to be my own support system (bye-bye maid & hello hands). All of these left me very little time to write, let alone fire up my laptop to sneak in a blog post or two.

With time at a premium, I fine-tuned my ‘Quick Sari Look’, and here I am sharing 6 simple ways to create a sari look in 10-minutes or less.


So onto the sari look. Often, the general notion about sari-dressing is that one must bring all of these aspects in when you’re wearing a sari – exotic jewellery pieces, the most stylish footwear and the best of make-up. We won’t leave any stone unturned when we drape a sari. And that’s a huge part of the fun and the pull of wearing a sari.

However, if you’re wearing saris regularly, to the office or at home, for lunch at a restaurant and a jaunt in the mall, or even to the movies or for some chai and gupshup at a friend’s place, you may not want to go the whole nine yards with your make-up kit and jewellery box. As alluring as all of it is, this can also be the very reason to swap the sari for salwar-kameez or a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Or at least, it is for me. It’s not every day that I can spend 30 minutes on creating a look. So, here’s my go to for any sari occasion or ‘non-occasion’:

1. Kajal or kohl: If there’s one thing that I cannot do without, it’s some soot black kajal. I just keep one or two kohl pencils and use these daily. I find that it’s one of the best ways to highlight one’s eyes and it adds so much to the sari look.


2. Big, round bindi: My little kit of make-up stuff just has to have a strip or two of big, round bindis. I love bright red, but since I can’t often get them where I live, I stick on maroon, black or even multi-colored round bindis.

3. Lip gloss or an earthy lip color: I’ve recently swapped all my chemical-laden lip colors for a few earthy shades of lipstick made with clarified butter and beeswax. With their dual purpose of moisturizing and adding color, these lipsticks complete and complement my make-up needs.

Photo credit: Byloom

4. 1 piece of statement piece or 2 simple pieces of jewellery: For daily sari wear, I prefer reaching out for chunky jhumkas or a pretty pair of dangling earrings. Alternatively, if I give earrings a miss, I’d wear a necklace that I really like. Sometimes, I could also wear two simple pieces of jewellery – earrings + necklace or bangles + earrings. The idea is to cut the fuss, keep accessories to a minimum and choose just one or two pieces that will add chutzpah to my sari outfit and yet keep the entire ensemble practical and work-worthy.


5. Bag or jhola: Even though I have an interesting collection of jholas, courtesy my friends who know my affinity for all things handmade, I choose one bag every month as my go-to jhola. I keep my essentials tucked into it and can sling it on every time I’m scrambling out of the door. My requirements for such a bag is that it shouldn’t be too large and bulky, yet should have space to hold my wallet, keys, Kindle and maybe, a tiny water bottle.

6. Comfortable footwear: Right before I’m rushing out, I’d want to slip into a pair of shoes/slip-ons that are comfortable enough for the whole day. Since I’m not a stilettos kinda girl, I prefer flats or an inch of block heels so my feet won’t be achy when I’m back. I mean, sari-wearing cannot be much fun if I have to nurse achy feet after my day in a gorgeous sari, right?

With these super six, I’m ready to rock the day.

What’s your sari go-to for daily sari wear? I'd love to hear how you create your sari style in a few short minutes, here in the comments section or on my Facebook Page!



#100sareepact #saristyle #simplesari 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

6 Reasons why the sari is more than just eye-candy

I love to look at saris and sari pictures just as much as the next girl. I mean, what’s not to like about well-crafted photographs of confident women in six yards of gorgeousness? Or, about going dizzy with excitement as one clicks through picture after picture of saris, each one more breathtaking than the other?

Image credit: Gaatha (All the images used in this post are from Gaatha, an amazing e-commerce site that promotes traditional Indian handicrafts with a contemporary twist. Thanks Gaatha, for letting me use these thoughtful images.)

I love everything about the sari, including the eye-candy aspect of it. But being a bit of a sari warrior, I am not comfortable relegating it to just this arena. How can a garment with so much of history in its weave, be just a beautiful picture to look at and then discard as too fanciful to wear?

While style is a very personal matter, and everyone is welcome to choose dresses and jeans over an unstitched garment that takes practice and patience to drape, there are some relevant reasons why the sari is holding strong and gaining back all its lost momentum in urban India. Here’s why the sari is so much more than just glossy eye-candy:


1. It’s shot through with stories. Pick up any handloom sari and you have a bag of stories right there in its weft and weave, drape and fall. From how a weaver in a tiny village has painstakingly woven each thread on a manual loom to the tales within the patterns, to how it’s come all the way to you, there are stories shot through a handmade sari. You just have to take the time to find them.

2. It’s rich with history. Research the history of any weaving tradition, and you’re sure to find stories of kings and their patronage, weaving lives and wearing traditions that pop out from within the weft and weave of any sari that you might be contemplating wearing on a given day.


3. It’s an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary. In the urban scenario, as more and more women are reaching into their treasure chests to dig out long-forgotten saris, it’s the pull of combining the tradition and culture of a sari with a generous dollop of modern that keeps them going. From trying out new ways to wear those old saris, to creating eclectic ensembles with what’s already tucked away in your wardrobe, or trying out new roles in newer saris, it’s all about discovering new combinations without letting go of the old.


4. It’s about slow living in a fast-paced culture. Yes, on an average, from the time you pick out a sari to you finish slinging on your bag, it takes about 10 minutes, if not more, depending on the kind of sari you’re wearing or the practice you have draping one. Compare that with slipping into a pair of jeans or trousers, and it’s a no-brainer that the sari can take more time to wear and accessorize. But, if plan your sari ensemble just a few minutes in advance, this time that it takes to drape and wear, can actually be an exercise in slow living. It’s about enjoying the process just as much as the end result. It’s about slowing down to smell the flowers, and calming that flurry and fury of our deadline-oriented mind.


5. It’s about wearing and owning a work of art in a world of cookie cutter, factory-made products. Gone are the days when our mothers and grandmothers made many of the daily essentials at home, thus, converting the mundane into little pieces of art to light up our simpler lives. So, when you break out a handwoven sari, you’re reclaiming a piece of hand-crafted tradition back into your life. You’re choosing art, and the thought and creativity that goes in making anything by hand.


6. It’s about softness and comfort. If you wear saris, you know how the sari feels like a hug, embracing you within its soft folds. Also, if you get too used to the sari and the petticoat, you may slip too deep into the comfort of wearing a garment that adjusts with your changing shape. A garment that doesn’t let you worry about muffin tops and love handles, or even the extra inch at the waist

What do you love about handloom saris?

Here's the entire series of Sari Posts.

P.S. Hey Sari gals, it's the Joy of Giving week, and if you want to make a difference with a sari, here are 5 ways to do so.

For connecting with us, hop over to our Facebook Page!

#saristyle #sarilove #handloomsari #sari #joyofgiving #share1saripact 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sari Love - Meenakshi Gupta talks to us about Your Saree for Dignity campaign

Hello sari-lifestylers! I am honored to introduce today's guest - Meenakshi Gupta, the co-founder of Goonj. I love each of Goonj's campaigns - well-thought out and practical, these impact people's lives in so many different ways. While you can know more about all these campaigns here, today we talk to Meenakshi about the Your Saree for Dignity campaign. About how your sari can make a difference to someone's life. How it can clothe a woman and preserve her dignity. How that sari goes beyond her clothing needs.

A note and a request: My earlier post about 5 ways to share/donate a sari sparked off some interesting discussions on certain forums. About whether one should give a new sari or a gently-used one. I gather, some of you may want to only give brand new saris and that's applause-worthy. But let that not stop us from sharing and giving from within our current stash of saris, considering that each sari that we donate can actually make a difference to another woman's clothing needs.

Just imagine, if all of us shared even 1 gently-used (or new, if that's what you'd like to buy and donate) sari, how many women we'd be able to help through this simple gift. #share1saripact

The organisations I mentioned in the blog post happily accept gently-used saris. Gently-used would be saris that you've loved and worn for a while. Saris that aren't threadbare and torn. Saris that are clean and washed. If you're still wondering whether to give a new or gently-used sari, feel free to contact any of the organisations and ask what they'd like.

Here's our conversation with Meenakshi Gupta.


Why is Goonj collecting saris?

Meenakshi:  Sarees is an integral part of women wear in rural India. Even though urban India has slowly transformed to a suit salwar duppatta or western wear etc. rural India is still closely attached to this distinctly India garment. The reality around sarees is that- Typically in far flung deep interiors of rural India women still survive on 2-3 sarees. Like in urban India most rural women tend to put their own needs, whether cloth, food, health education, as a last priority so sarees for themselves don’t really come up as priority. Talking about clothes.. women tend to use even what they have in terms of last shreds of sarees, petticoats, blouses to address the most basic monthly need of menses.

Please give me an overview of this campaign and how do you think it will impact women.

Meenakshi: Women in rural India still live a life bound by a lot of traditions and customs thus their attire, unlike urban Indian women is slow to change. Thus a big part of rural India still wears sarees unlike urban India. Whenever we talk of reaching out clothing for women in rural India we find that in many regions women still wear sarees or the traditional attire of the place. The big gap in clothing for women comes up because women in urban India are more into wearing salwar suits, skirts or western wear. Thus obviously that’s what they are discarding and contributing to Goonj as well. Sarees in cities has largely become occasional wear and thus the wear and tear is much less. As a result the giving of sarees is also infrequent. While its true that many women in cities are now contributing sarees but in comparison to the demand and need of rural India this is minuscule. As a result many a times we have to buy sarees to fill this gap. That’s why we started this campaign about sarees asking urban women  to think of her sari as a symbol of dignity and self respect for another..



Would you have a personal story or two to share, based on what you’ve observed about poverty and the lack of proper clothing, and how the gift of a saree has impacted their life?

Meenakshi: Cloth is commonly used by women in rural India as a sanitary pad and most often the little cloth they have is some old saree, blouse or petticoat pieces.

One example of what a saree means is that in many disasters where women traditionally wore sarees like Bihar, south India, we notice that even though they lose everything in a disaster it’s very difficult for them to wear a suit etc in dire need because they feel embarrassed wearing something they have never worn.. Women in such situations prefer wearing the one saree they have over changing into a salwar suit given to them even as disaster relief. We also come across many cases in rural India where buying sarees and other clothes for a daughter’s wedding is a big burden on the parents who struggle for the basics in their life. There are many cases still of people in rural India, taking loans for buying new clothes on festivals and special occasions and because of their meager earnings and big interest, are not able to pay back..



What kind of sarees would you like people to donate?

Meenakshi: Women in rural India wear cotton/semi cotton sarees but for formal occasions like marriages synthetic and mixed material sarees are also used commonly.

Where can they send them to?

Meenakshi: Please look up www.goonj.org for a list of Goonj dropping centers in many cities, where you can contribute your sarees. If you don’t live in any of these cities, you can send us a courier or better still organize a saree collection drive in your office, residential area etc. and then send a big consignment of sarees to the nearest Goonj office. Do write to us if you plan such a collection drive, we could help you and guide around you apart from sharing communication material etc.



Please share a contact number + email id that people can access if they want to know more or start their own collection drives?

Meenakshi: Best would be if you could connect with us on mail@goonj.org or call the nearest Goonj office.. contact details of our offices are on www.goonj.org.

Is there a deadline till when people should send in their sarees or this is a continuing program?

Meenakshi: This is an ongoing work throughout the year.

Where will you distribute these sarees?

Meenakshi: These sarees will become a part of our family Kits or disaster relief kits which basically include many items including clothes for an entire family’s needs. These family packs are reached out as part of our cloth for work initiative, in which   rural communities identify and work on their own local problem/issue like a broken road, digging up a well due to water scarcity etc. and in return for the efforts they receive these kits with dignity and self respect rather than as charity. Our work is spread out to parts of 21 states where we take up cloth for work initiative and reach out family kits.

How can someone start a collection drive for sarees – what kind of information should we share?

Meenakshi: Please connect with us before organizing a collection drive and we will guide around how to organize a collection drive as well as share communication material to help you publicize the drive.

If you are doing a drive in any city where Goonj has an office, then we explore a pick up based on the quantity of material collected but if you are in a city where Goonj doesn’t have an office the best way would be to courier your saree to the nearest Goonj office.

Anything that you’d like to add?
Meenakshi:  Saree is a attire but also a symbol of a woman’s dignity.. It signifies a certain tradition and culture for many women. When you look at your collection of sarees just sitting there in a box, think of all the women whose days would be more dignified and full of self respect with a nice saree. Getting a new saree is no less than a celebration for a woman.. imagine the joy your saree lying idle in your home can bring to another..

So, are you with us as we share a sari this season to help someone? If yes, let us know how you plan to help with your saris. #share1saripact

Hope over to our Facebook Page for regular updates.

#sarilove #saristyle #donateasari
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