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.

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6 comments:

  1. beautifully put. the sari is just not a piece of unstitched cloth. It is a canvas of emotions, written with the shutttles and paddles... a dream woen in the tana and bana... a painting; a work of art and life.

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  2. Hi, I enjoyed reading this story. I am from Australia and will be visiting India for the first time in November. I love textiles, especially handmade ones and love the wonderful history of textiles in India. I would love to wear a saree while in India. Would local people think it strange or disrespectful for a western woman to wear a saree while a tourist in India? Carolyn from Adelaide, Australia

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    1. Hey Carolyn....you must try out the sari when you're in India. If you can carry it off well, the locals shouldn't think it's strange. I've written about non-Indians wearing a sari. And I can help you with tips so you can wear the sari with style and for comfort. Feel free to mail me at banerjeechandana30@gmail.com

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  3. You echoed so many reasons I wear a saree almost every day now. For me, Saree is all about wearing confidence. It gives me a feeling of self-confidence like no other piece of clothing does.

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    1. Amazing! I'd love to hear how you wear the sari everyday.

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