Starting the #100SareePact on the auspicious New Year. Just got Vishu blessings from my beautiful grandmother who helped me wear my first saree when I was 16. And this saree is a gift from Mausi who is responsible for half my cotton saree collection. It sat in a trunk for nearly a decade and is now finally out! The classic Lucknow Chikan creation, as simple and elegant as Mausi always is!
Day 2 #100SareePact A gift from my mother. She bought this lovely cotton at a small weaving Centre near Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu. Joining the saree craze is Aadyaa who was salivating over mums new black and white acquisition this morning; here she is draping the fabric over her night suit!
Day 3 of the #100sareepact picking out a Bengal cotton that used to belong to Rahul Singh Rawal’s grandmother (Nani). It came to me via Radha Rawal (my mother-in-law, her daughter) as a blessing when she passed on a few years ago. Surely a coveted part of my saree collection. Remembering gracious and beautiful Nani today
Day 4 #100sareepact My feel good saree, a vibrant chanderi in my favourite colour gifted by Munni Mausi whose contribution to my handloom saree collection has been substantial over the years.
Day 5 #100sareepact Posing with Amma in our gorgeous Jaipuri georgettes just before we leave for a family wedding. This classic rani colour saree with gota patti border was bought in Jaipur while shopping for Chitra baisa’s wedding. It’s an absolute treasure!
Day 6 #100sareepact This summery delight, the first chiffon saree I’ve owned, was bought for me by mum Sita Naik a year or two after my wedding. I remember the outing to Aminabad, Lucknow to buy it. I remember falling in love with the colours quite instantly. It’s a versatile saree, which has been worn quite a bit and not just by me!
Day 7 #100sareepact Today’s saree, a cotton handloom, was gifted to me by Bhargavi Aunty many years ago and has been an office staple all these years. Particularly like the stripes and checks theme and the earthy brown. I’ve deliberately left the saree unstarched and worn it casually with no safety pins and with handmade accessories- jute earrings from Bengal, tribal beads, lacquer bangles and hand stitched slippers from Gujarat.
Day 8 #100sareepact a classic baby pink Lucknowi Chikan saree borrowed from my mother in law Radha Rawal whose look of happiness and pride in the morning made my day!
Day 9 #100sareepact A parrot green handloom with a bright red border, this saree has emerged after a decade thanks to the pact! This is the brightest colour I’ve worn in a while and am quite enjoying the feeling.
Day 10 #100sareepact I wore this floral chiffon for Udai’s school exhibition. Bought in Chandni Chowk years ago, it never fails to brighten my day.
Day 11 #100sareepact I showed up in Amma’s room last night with a blouse. “This fits me, you have something to match this?” An age old saree-borrower query! And she pulls out this gorgeous Kota cotton with block prints. Bought in the early years after our wedding on a family vacation to Kota and Jalwara (urf ‘gaon’) in Rajasthan. It’s brand new and I can’t help wondering at the immense generosity of this gorgeous lady who turns 60 today and opens her heart and her wardrobe to me so effortlessly!
Day 12 #100sareepact This shaded bandhej saree was a suprise gift from my husband Rahul way back in maybe 2002 or 2003. He had got it for me from Surat and the saree reflects his impeccable taste for the subtle and classy. Wearing it today with a simple rubia blouse, handmade threadwork neckpiece and traditional gold earrings.
Day 13 This kancheevaram cotton that belongs to my mum made me feel extra good!
Day 14 #100sareepact This bright green and gold silk was worn for Diwali 2013, when coincidentally Aadyaa also had a green and gold lehenga to match!
Day 15 #100sareepact I’m wearing A typical Kerala Kasavu saree that belongs to my mother-in-law, worn on September 2014 on the occasion of Onam.
Day 16 #100sareepact I’m wearing a classic threadwork kanjeevaram silk saree in an unusual colour combination. The saree is one of those gifted to me by Amamma’ (my maternal grandmother) from her own wardrobe. We have often had this ritual of her passing on her sarees and jewellery to me, some of my most treasured possessions belonged to her (she is quite the collector).
Day 17 #100sareepact Again a pic from way back in 2012. The saree is a silk tussar weave from Odisha in a delectable pistachio theme.
Day 18 #100sareepact another of mum’s carefully selected gifts, this crepe saree with a delicate Kashmiri embroidery on its border is a favorite during winter.
Day 19: Silk weave from Bengal in rich hues and texture. In love with this saree that a friend chose for me and my mum bought!
Day 20 #100sareepact This tussar silk with a bright orange border is a favourite office wear saree of mine. One of Mausi’s numerous gifts for her beloved daughter-in-law (that’s me), it’s simple understated elegance always makes me feel beautiful and efficient at the same time.
Day 21 #100sareepact My orange printed silk saree makes a striking contrast to the crisp white shirts that surround me. I have owned this saree since I was married, it probably was acquired as part of the ‘trousseau’
Day 22 #100sareepact Rachna Khanna and me trawled the streets on Chandni Chowk to pick sarees for Mayur Khanna and Melanie Smith’s wedding. This gorgeously elaborate georgette caught my eye for its unusual colour combination. I finally wore it maybe a year after it was bought for another family wedding!
Day 23 #100sareepact One of the maybe 5 sarees picked out at Nallis in Chennai way back in the summer of 2000 as prep for a wedding trousseau, this elegant traditional kancheevaram silk is one I’ve worn over and over through the years.
Day 24 #100sareepact A lovely mango yellow cotton chanderi, this saree belongs to my mother in law Radha Rawal. The next few posts are going to be about rituals and ceremonies at which sarees are normally worn all across India. I’ve posted shots of Onam, weddings and Diwali before. Here’s another…. I wore this yellow for a basant panchami pooja in 2011. It is the day that ushers in spring in the Hindu calendar. That year, a large-scale event was organised on my the terrace of my then music teacher’s home along with a small music program where a number of us sang. Since this is also the day Bengalis perform the Saraswati Puja, my guru asked us to also formally introduce little Aadyaa (not yet three) to the alphabet in a formal ceremony performed by the priest. That’s why we are both in the traditional yellow and all decked up.
Day 25 #100sareepact This machine done phulkari saree in a delectable shade of green was a birthday present by Lekha Chaturvedi aunty brought back from one of her Punjab sojourns. I got a dull gold border stitched on it and it’s one of my favourites because it’s simple and easy to drape.
Day 26 #100sareepact Here I am in a vibrant Saree that someone presented Amamma, my grandmother, and she recently passed it on to me. It’s a power loom most likely with a bit of synthetic thread woven into cotton and she found it uncomfortable as daily wear. Worn with a yellow blouse with some purple sequin work that belonged to a Pakistani Saree I gave away because I found I never wore it.
Day 27 #100sareepact A favourite kosa silk saree gifted at my wedding by Munni Mausi. I’ve worn this saree many times in the early years after my wedding because I love the colour combination.
Day 28 #100sareepact Beginning the week with a comfortable Sambalpuri ikat in handloom cotton from mum’s wardrobe.
Day 29 #100sareepact I bought this purple leheriya from Jaipur on a jaunt with Nupur C in the early 2000s. I have a weakness for leheriya and though this particular colour is considered inauspicious in Rajasthan, I love it too much to not wear it!
Day 30 #100sareepact #gurgaonsareechallenge An onion pink crazy print chiffon selected this from a collection Lekha Chaturvedi aunty had displayed in her home once. It’s most unlike what I normally wear but I’ve enjoyed its different-ness.
Day 31 #100sareepact Thrilled to wear this bright green and yellow handloom cotton with hand done phulkari work. Borrowed from mum’s wardrobe.
Day 32 #100sareepact I fell in love with this saree in a shop in Hazratganj Lucknow where we were picking a lehenga for my wedding reception in the summer of 2001. My to be mothers-in-law (Amma Radha Rawal and Mausi) had just shared the ordeal it is to find something subtle and to my taste and we were elated at our success. I was a bit conscious about prices and budgets. And then I sighted this saree. It was love at first sight! Laughing at my hesitation, Amma bought it for me and it’s been a favourite ever since. Lightweight doria cotton with a gorgeous woven palla.
Day 33 #100sareepact Wore this bright yet subtly shaded Jaipuri georgette with Mukaish work to a birthday party today.
Day 34 #100sareepact Inspired by all the big border sarees posted by the lovely ladies doing the pact, I’m donning a classic kanchi cotton with a body of cheque and thread work border. A lovely earthy combination of turmeric and maroon, this is a saree that my Amamma has generously shared with me. Worn with traditional meenakari kairee neckpiece and jhumkis to complement the kairee pattern on the saree border.
Day 35 #100sareepact Borrowing from Amma today to wear this light handloom cotton doria in a delish onion pink and aubergine combination. The amia or kairee motif is block printed all over but the gorgeous floral palla with hints of orange is what really adds that extra zing to this saree.
Day 36 #100sareepact This olive green Bengali tant with unusual lilac and blue highlights was picked by my mother in law and her friend from the bundles brought in by the ‘bengali’ salesman every year. I wasn’t present when it was bought, but was quick to lay claim to it later!
Day 37 #100sareepact भगवा रंग में रंगी हूँ आज! Feeling beautiful and peaceful in Amma’s favourite saree. A simple MP block print with zari border picked from Fab India. Worn with an Odishi handloom blouse and classic temple jewellery from Chennai. Quite the nationally integrated look today smile emoticon
Day 38 #100sareepact Raided Amma’s almirah this morning to pick out a semi-chiffon she bought from Kanpur a few years ago. She labelled it an “office-type” saree and so here I am in a departure from my handlooms. Love her taste for its subtlety and love her enthusiasm for my ‘saree pacting’!
Day 39 #100sareepact Making Saturday special with this batik handloom that my mother bought me for my wedding anniversary earlier this year. She picked it up from Arankri at GK2 in Delhi. They always have the most gorgeous handlooms! Mummy said she picked it because she had never seen this colour in my wardrobe.
Day 40 #100sareepact Am setting off for a conference wrapped in this soft much worn yellow Lucknowi Chikan cotton saree. The saree belonged to Nani, my husband Rahul Singh Rawal’s maternal grandmother who was quite the matriarch. Amma inherited it from her and gave it to me lovingly to wear today. There’s a particular pleasure in wearing a garment that comes down generations and the simplicity of this classic Chikan, which was probably used as everyday wear, makes it even more special for me. Also draws attention to how well our elders cared for their possessions and how careless many of us are in comparison!
Day 41 #100sareepact One of my oldest sarees that I might have worn a couple of times in the early years of my marriage and then relegated to the back of my cupboard, where it has been since! Pulled it out today and wore it unstarched and casual with a mix and match blouse. The softness of Bengali taant is unmatched and it’s really comfortable in muggy weather.
Day 42 #100sareepact Getting into the saawan mood with this bottle green bandhej on georgette from mum’s wardrobe! The bright colours offer a delightful contrast and I’m thrilled my favourite pendant matches the colours perfectly! A secret aside- I was fascinated by bandhni and bottle green as a teenager after I saw Bhagyashree wear a churidar kurta in this colour and style in Maine Pyar Kiya! I was maybe 14 or 15! I never found that exact shade of fabric but that’s the real reason I picked this saree out of mums wardrobe this morning!
Day 43 #100sareepact In honour of National Handloom Day today, a Bailou saree I bought for my mum a few years ago at an exhibition. Teamed with a bright handloom blouse to create a crazy colour look. The saree for this blouse is worn by my Amamma (she prefers her plain cotton blouses and I swipe all the blouse pieces to mix and match!). For jewellery, inspired by Amamma again, I picked out my corals today- the set coming together over a period of time, but by bit. Earrings are passed on to me by mum, neckpiece designed by her for my wedding and classic Goan gold bangles gifted by my mother in law after Aadyaa was born.
Day 44 #100sareepact I’m wearing a cotton from Bengal in auspicious red and yellow for a havan at a friend’s place today. The saree belongs to my mother in law and I love it for the richness that the all over geometrical woven pattern creates. Despite this, the saree is light to carry as all Bengali weaves tend to be. I learnt from a fellow pacter that this saree was probably woven on the jacquard looms at Tangail where the weavers often adopt jamdani designs into their creations!
Day 45 #100sareepact On the occasion of Haryali Teej, I choose to wear another ‘blessing’ saree. This simple and elegant green cotton with a classic woven gold border was well worn by Rahul’s Nani. Teaming it with a sleeveless brown blouse, pearls and the green bangles that are traditionally worn on teej.
Day 46 #100sareepact A simple and lovely pink and turquoise Bengali taant that belongs to my mother in law. From her teaching days when she wore sarees to school everyday. Thank you Radha Rawal for keeping your sarees so well that I can wear them now! I wore it to my son’s school today lovely pink and turquoise for Form Day.
Day 47 #100sareepact Classic pink georgette leheriya typically worn in Rajasthan. No embellishments, the way I love it. The saree must be over 30 years old and belongs to Amma. It’s got little holes, large bits are darned; it’s clearly been worn a lot. Am really into pulling out the ancient family treasures nowadays and giving them a new lease of life! Loving it!
Day 48 #100sareepact I’m wearing a bottle green printed chiffon gifted by Rahul Singh Rawal in the early years of our marriage. He brought it back from a work trip to Surat and I remember being surprised and thrilled! So grown up it was, the husband getting me sarees as gifts! I haven’t had occasion to wear this simple saree too many times even though I love it’s muted colours and leafy print. Thanks to the pact, I’m wearing it now
Day 49 #100sareepact Beige Bengali cotton with a traditional red and gold woven border today. The saree was gifted by a dear friend Dipanwita Gupta shortly before she moved out of the country. She knew I would treasure it and wear it! Worn with a sleeveless blouse with some kantha work on it and my favourite jhumkis.
Day 50 #100sareepact Wore this bright Mysore crepe to a dear little girl’s birthday. She celebrated it in the gurdwara with a paath and langar. A lovely idea from an unusually mature child. Preeti Sood and Deepak Kashyap you are blessed to have Deepika in your life and so are we!I’ve owned this saree for a long time but haven’t worn it a lot. I’ve been looking out for an occasion to wear this one.
Day 51 #100sareepact Repeating the gorgeous purple batik handloom today to celebrate the halfway mark on the pact. It’s becoming my ‘conference’ saree because it keeps its crease so well, is light and easy to handle. It’s also drop dead gorgeoussmile emoticonAnd who doesn’t want to be remembered in a crowd?
Day 52 #100sareepact Crossing that threshold into the second half of the century. Exciting!Battling the stress of organising an event, standing all day on tired feet and still recovering post-surgical joints in this deep maroon saree with a mango orange woven border. Particularly like the delicate mirror work on the palla and border. Generously donated to the cause by Amma who has worn this saree only once before! I will give the saree back to her of course, but only because her cupboard is always accessible to me!
Day 53 #100sareepact Not owning a kasavu saree has been a grouse for a while now. I’m shining in borrowed feathers for Onam today however. I wore this saree which belong to Amma last year as well on Onam. The saree was gifted to her by her dear friends Sammy uncle and Maya Aunty when their daughter for married and she really treasures it! So do Iwink emoticonwink emoticonKerala is very much a part of my heritage. Both my maternal grandparents grew up there and my mum too, coming from the pattar Brahmin community. As a child, I spoke Tamil and smatterings of Malayalam but I’ve lost both languages over time. A pity!Very little of my family lives in Kerala now. Growing up and interacting with many many Malayali friends has renewed my link however, and thanks to them and my Amamma and mother who live nearby, the culture is no longer as faraway as it could have been! Happy Onam everyone!
Saree 54 #100sareepact Celebrating Raksha Bandhan in a colourful printed crepe silk bought in a tiny shop in a Chandni Chowk gali as we shopped for Chitra Raj baisa’s trousseau way back in 2007. Amma Radha Rawal hope you remember this outing!At the fag end of a long session choosing various sarees to give to myriad relatives, we asked the salesman to show us something he thought we would like. This was one of two or three sarees I picked that day and one I’ve worn it quite a bit. It’s comfortable, it’s sans bling the way I like it and it sports a fun combination of colours! Combined with a cotton sleeveless blouse and earrings I fell in love with recently at Anokhi.
Day 55 #100sareepact One morning, in the early days of my pursuit of the pact, I received this classic black kantha cotton as a surprise gift from a dear friend. A lover of sarees and one of the most spontaneous people I know, I was touched beyond words by her gesture of love and encouragement. Black is a rare colour in my wardrobe and this addition, with its delicate kantha pattern, is gorgeous. Thank you Gaganpreet Ahluwalia! Muaah! I’ve been saving this saree for a special day and you’ll know later why today is specialwink emoticonWorn with a lovely block print blouse by Rema Kumar, wooden earrings that match the lead motif on the saree, my standard brass and thread neckpiece and wooden bangles.
Day 56 #100sareepact Repeating this gorgeous maroon south cotton with a broad border today. The saree was a generous donation to my wardrobe by my grandmother. Amamma had received this as a gift but thought it would be very heavy to wear. I resolved this morning to wear it a few more times till it became soft and then perhaps offer it back to her. Will report back on her reaction!
Day 57 #100sareepact Repeating one of the earlier sarees from the pact. A pista taant from Bengal. Wore it today on janmashtami because of the peacock pattern on its palla. Was particularly fortunate to hear a divine flute recital at an intimate baithak at my guruji’s place. Was transported to another blissful planet for a bit. And inspired by the story of the flautist who gave up a teaching job in Bokaro to move to Noida and dedicate his life to his art form. Thank you Guruji!Today was also a sort of saree date. Both mums and Guruji were also wearing sarees! All for the love of Krishna kanhaiyya!
Day 58 #100sareepact Wearing a rich mustard coloured Chanderi cotton today from Amma’s wardrobe. Also a repeat on the pact because I’ve been wanting to wear all the chanderis I love before I usher in the silks in winter. Chanderis are a victory for me because for the longest time I didn’t wear them thinking they make me look fat! The pact has given me the confidence to view sarees from the perspective of how they make me feel rather than how they make me look! And that’s a huge achievement. Now to apply that philosophy to everything else I do
Day 59 #100sareepact Raided mum’s wardrobe again. Like I said before, I have an urge to wear cottons before the winter sets in and we switch to silk.This printed kota doria with a gorgeous block printed palla was bought by mum at a favourite Chennai shopping haunt of hers called Shilpi. Some of my earliest ethnic wear ensembles were sourced there and the saree must have been bought many ages ago as well.Have never worn it before and am really enjoying the high quality of the fabric and that fact that it falls well despite being very light.
Day 60 #100sareepact Draping this crisply starched cotton saree this morning made me realise that I’m finally living a childhood dream. Back in Lucknow in the late ’80s, I shared a particular chore with our househelp’s daughter and my close friend Gyanwati. It involved the mass starching and drying of Ma’s sarees. We had a system to it. Long strips across the worthy of the front lawn in parallel rows, the sarees never touching with thin strips of the grass peeking out in long lines between them. And then lengthwise on the one half of the slightly deeper back lawn, the other half being our kitchen garden. And then running to gather them back before the sun dated bleached these beauties. A haze of colour. Laughing as we struggled with the stiff cotton lengths and pummelled them into submission, finally bundling them up for dhobi bhaiyya to iron. What a privileged childhood I had in that lovely campus far from the city! We would often wonder how mum feels draping these stiff but gorgeously vibrant sarees and I’m living that thought today. Gyanwati still lives there on the same campus, the smart mother of two very smart daughters. MA pass but still working as a domestic help, claiming its out of choice but we all know it’s far more complicated than that!Yes, this is mum’s saree. Handloom cotton with monochrome batik prints. It’s mango yellow, nearly orange mirrors the sharp sunshine of September, heralding the oncoming winter and asking us to not be impatient in wishing it were cooler! Wearing it, paired with a maroon leheriya blouse, on a morning of nostalgia and contemplation, wanting it’s hopeful hues to change my mood to one of resolve and enthusiasm instead.
Day 61 #100sareepact Every self respecting South Indian bride must have a good quality Mysore crepe in her trousseau. This was the one that mummy chose to be in mine. There’s a flood of memories associated with this saree and it’s one of my most worn silks. I remember wearing it in my sasural the day after my wedding and more recently to a nephew’s upanayan. But the saree is special because it is the one I wore to my father’s book launch. Why’s that special?Because daddy wrote his autobiography in the one year he had between his cancer being detected and it finally getting him. He knew his time was short and he worked dedicatedly to document his life. His book Metamorphosis is a work of sheer grit, immense determination and utter honesty. The kind of bravery that was typical of him. Daddy (Dr Subhash R Naik) was a well know doctor and the book inspired many. Mum was to get requests for copies for many years to come.But the day of the launch was an emotional one for us. Daddy was not doing too well. He was in a wheelchair with tubes sticking out of him. Yet he seemed ecstatic and overjoyed, like a child in a toy shop. Film maker Muzaffar Ali and the then Governor of Uttar Pradesh launched his book to a packed auditorium, rather filled with people who had to come to pay their last respects to him. I remember being in a daze, unable to process the import of the occasion, unable to understand the joy amid the impending sorrow. But everything passes and we learn to cope. His stoicism and faith in me is even today, thirteen years after his passing, a source of unending strength in my life.I wore this saree today for a pooja and lunch to mark the inauguration of a dental clinic that dearly beloved friends are setting up. It was a proud and happy occasion and I wish them well from the bottom of my heart.
Day 62 #100sareepact Tried a new look today with a high neck blouse and a crisp kancheevaram cotton that belongs to mum. The objective was to achieve a neat perfectly pleated look and keep it intact through a day of meetings. I think I managed! Rahul called it the Bharat Mata look.Was a happy camper in the green environs of Zorba with a bunch of fun people. Mind you, we were engaged in extremely serious work!Also sporting my new Chumbak bag. A happy day indeed
Day 63 #100sareepact White is a colour completely absent from my saree collection even though I love it and have plenty of it in other types of clothes. This saree was a natural pick for me from mum’s wardrobe as I sifted out cottons to wear through the muggy stillness of a Delhi September.A lightweight block printed kota doria. A tad less wide for my height and therefore an inch or so above the ground, but what the heck!
Day 64 #100sareepact हल्दी in Hindi, ‘Halad’ in Marathi, ‘Manjai’ in Tamil. The colour of auspiciousness and prosperity in cultures across our wonderful country. Wearing this yellow and maroon checkered Chettinad cotton that belongs to Ma on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi gives my otherwise ordinary workday a celebratory feel.I’m missing Goa terribly today. I try to go every year for ‘chavath’ to celebrate this special festival with cousins, aunts, uncles and elders. My beloved Ajjee is very ill this year and I’ve avoided the visit, not wanting to celebrate while she is bedridden. She who has been the heart and soul of Ganpati festivities in our ancestral home in St. Cruz, Goa. Yet, I admire the resilience of tradition in this context, that sets up systems for things to go on. Where the young take over from the old and a way of life is preserved. No one is indispensable, but everyone is a welcome part of the celebration. So much to learn from our own culture!
Day 65 #100sareepact This saree, a purple Mysore crepe with a generous silver/gold border and pallu, is proof of my mother’s impeccable taste and a favourite. Curiously enough I haven’t worn it a lot, always wanting to wait for the right occasion. A sophisticated evening out, perhaps?Well, I decided tonight was the night and attended the launch of the Kumaon Literary Festival draped in these gorgeous six yards. Before leaving for the event, I dropped in to show off a bit to my Amamma. Her look of absolute delight (she is quite the lover of clothes and jewellery) was worth the effort, but she turned up her nose at my neckpiece which is an old silk threadwork dug out from my mum-in-law’s collection. “Look, she’s wearing chakkai-kuru (jackfruit seeds) round her neck!,” Amamma called out to mum in a disparaging tone. I was of course in a giggling fit by then!
Day 65 #100sareepact I wore a saree today not because I’m doing the pact but because it’s the default traditional attire in our family. A saree is what we wear for important occasions. Births, marriages and deaths. Today we said farewell to our beloved Ajjee, my paternal grandmother. She was Ajjee, Ayee, Mayee, Atee to hundreds. An inspirational figure who lived to be a hundred. Saying goodbye was hard indeed. Gathered together watching the rituals around death, a host of women in sarees (among a host of men in trousers and shirts who seem to have shunned traditional attire). Ordinary sarees. Floral prints, cottons, silks, synthetics. A predominance of whites and pastels as a mark of respect. Sarees picked without much thought. Or maybe not. Mine too a pastel peach cotton embroidered with chikankari (one I’ve worn very early in the pact)dumped into a suitcase in a hurry before catching a flight. A saree that’s now embedded in a set of memories. A saree that is my companion in a journey to a place I’ve been to before and where I (and you) am destined to return to again and again. The altar of death where we stop and stand, watching our loved ones pass on, giving us their blessings.
Day 66 #100sareepact What better way to get back into the swing of things than wearing a saree! So this morning, in the hope of a more ‘normal’ day, I picked mum’s purple handloom cotton with a simple woven border and subtle vine green stripes. Of course, life has a habit of taking unexpected twists and turns and I was called into Udai’s school urgently because he had been hurt and chipped his tooth. Worried and cancelling many important appointments, I rushed to school. Only to have him wave me away (a tad tearfully), saying he wanted to take his test and return home on the schoolbus! Both baffled and impressed, I trooped to work. On the way, I was held up by a procession carrying a dead body to the cremation ground. In that moment, I felt immensely thankful for the gift of a fulfilling normal life and a practical and supportive family. Not to mention the sisterhood of pacters who would understand why wearing a saree has a bearing on my state of mind!
Day 67 #100sareepact Today is a big day because it’s Shikshantar birthday! Aadyaa takes her school’s birthday very seriously and her enthusiasm envelopes everyone. I mean everyone. Friends, neighbours, grandmums, aunts, Anu didi who is our domestic help, all were invited. I wore this pleasing pink Bengal cotton (again, it’s mum’s) for the occasion and was surprised by the number of friends (fellow parents at school, a very strong bond indeed) who knew it was No. 67!
Day 68 #100sareepact When sarees call out to be repeated, when you have just about 5 minutes to pick out and drape a saree and you know exactly which one it will be, when you stop bothering about how perfect the drape is. That’s when you become a true comfortable-in-our-saree-skins pacter! Repeating this lovely black cotton kantha today. Power dressing to present at a conference. Soul dressing to make me feel happy!
Day 69 #100sareepact Munni mausi has spent a lifetime buying Sarees from Bhopal and transporting them to her sisters, nieces and me, her bahu. These Sarees represent the richness of Madhya Pradesh’s handloom culture- kosa, chanderi, Maheshwari, etc. When I got married, I got two kosa silk Sarees. One from Munni mausi, the other from Anjudi (who had asked mausi to get an extra along for her new bhabhi!). Amma, I discovered in time, has a veritable collection of Munni Sarees! The one I wear today is particularly lovely and some 30 years old. We measured the saree’s age through my husband Rahul Singh Rawal’s memories of it this morning. “Amma, you had it when we were posted in Faridkot…,” he reminisced referring to his schooldays! I fell in love with this saree when I raided amma’s cupboard a couple of months ago. I love that the grey is highlighted so well by the diaphanousness of chanderi silk. The tiny red and green bootis add the bright spark. And the white striped border is सोने पे सुहागा!
Day 70 #100sareepact As the weather changes, I can feel a slight chill creep into the mornings and evenings. An ideal time to pull out my printed silks. This magenta saree is light and its small delicate floral print makes it ideal for work wear. This is another Mausi saree. Not Munni mausi who gets the Bhopal Sarees, but Reena mausi who is Amma’s eldest sibling, lives in Lucknow and is quite the matriarch. Incurably affectionate and enthusiastic, she is responsible for as many Sarees in my wardrobe as my own mother is. Through the unbridled love and guidance she has offered in my life, as a young bride and at various other points in time, mausi has been a reassuring force for the last 15+ years. I’m sure her daughters, all phenomenal women, will agree with me wholeheartedly! This saree reflects her character- full of simplicity yet eternally graceful and confident. Wearing it is a tribute to her.
Day 71 #100sareepact I saw Rahul Singh Rawal pull out a kurta pyjama to wear last night. We were hopping across to a neighbours place for dinner. I had just returned from a long and tiring day at work and desperately needed to wind down. But nowadays, the urge to drape myself in a saree comes unbidden or, in this case, triggered by another’s enthusiasm. In a jiffy, I picked this chikankari in georgette in a colour matching his kurta. The saree was a gift from mum on our wedding anniversary years ago when she still lived in Lucknow and our annual chikan shopping was very much a ritual we looked forward to. I remember sitting there in a shop in Janpath market off Hazrat Ganj, watching the salesman pull out saree after saree till the subtle shades on this one caught our eye. I think it was the turquoise that sealed the deal. As I draped it and the palla fell over my shoulder, Aadyaa walked into the room and gave a spontaneous cry of delight! “कितनी सुन्दर फूल पत्ति बनी हैं मम्मा! आप बहुत अच्छे लग रहे हो!”
Day 72 #100sareepact This soft printed silk has been in my wardrobe for a long long time, perhaps pre-dating my trousseau. This sort of printed silk was standard winter work wear for mum and I loved the abstract patterns they had. Pink and pearl grey is one of the loveliest colour combinations and wearing this saree has always made me feel good. However my strongest memory of wearing this saree is to the 12th day function of a dear friend who passed away too young, leaving a bereft family behind her. I will never forget the strangeness of wishing her soul a peaceful onward journey wearing her favourite colour and attire (she used to look absolutely stunning in a saree like a starlet in an old Hindi movie), not finding the words to console or be consoled, knowing that words are unnecessary, exchanging brave smiles, experiencing the blankness of such occasions. Life teaches us many things, but I’ve learnt that there is nothing more precious than a true friend.
Day 73 #100sareepact I’m wearing mum’s new saree, a soft Bengal cotton in a striking cream and black that gives off the feel of khadi even though it likely isn’t. Only a mum can open her heart and wardrobe out like this and not feel even a twinge of regret when her daughter walks away with a brand new saree! I dropped in to show it to her on my way to work and I felt her joy and pride. So lucky to have you at hand nearby mum!
Day 74 #100sareepact This saree has been in my wardrobe for years. Mum bought it for me many years ago because of its intricate floral embroidery, but my first few attempts at wearing it were clumsy. And because I’ve never been much of a pastels and florals person, it hasn’t been worn much. The pact has made me less judgmental of my sarees though and this one has been staring sternly at me everyday, daring me to break the barriers in my head! I iron my sarees myself each morning nowadays [I feel as if ironing them is an act of love and care the saree deserves, much like another person would water their plants ;)] and as I did so, I truly appreciated the delicate richness of the embroidery and the softness of its fabric for the first time. Needless to say, it draped like a dream and I’m seriously wondering what I was thinking to condemn this poor soul to the almirah, without a second glance all these years