I grew up in a household where even though Saree wasn’t a mandate for the women to wear, I saw my mom wear sarees every day, out of choice, and out of love for the six yards!
She has a wardrobe, sorry, multiple wardrobes full of different types and colors of sarees and my sister and I would spend one too many afternoons enamored by the silkiness of mom’s sarees, clumsily draping it over our 10-year-old bodies and running around the house casually, tripping sometimes, learning how to be graceful and poised other times.
Maybe it got ingrained in me, for the love of saree only grew as time passed. I love the everyday plain chiffon sarees (refer to Sushmita Sen in Main hoon na) as much as I love the typical banarasi silk sarees (Refer to Rekha – the ethereal goddess)! I don’t get too many chances to wear saree, but I don’t leave one opportunity to wear it! All the ethnic days in office – be it Diwali or Onam or Pongal or whatever- I am always dressed in a saree! And what’s best is that I find it completely effortless.
I can walk around in a saree, without even a pin to secure it, and still walk around like a boss, at complete ease with it!
Handloom sarees, especially, have me mesmerized. The kind of rich embroidery and detailing all done by human hand, it blows my mind!
I have always been fascinated by how every state of India has a different draping style and a different saree fabric to call its own. Just silk sarees have a thousand varieties, among the notable few are Banarasi silk, Kanjeevaram silk and Assam silk! Leheriya and Bandhej, Phulkari, Bomkai, Chanderi, Kalamkari, Paithani, Patola– All these just blow my mind!
There’s another type of embroidery that I love on sarees. It goes by the name ‘ Kantha’ and I was introduced to it when my mom bought me the-most-exquisite-dupatta that I own till date. I fell in love with it that day and I jumped with joy the day Aditri Looms and Crafts approached me to wear their sarees. As luck would have it, they were Kantha Sarees, each a masterpiece!
A little background here – Kantha, or the running stitch, is an indigenous household craft that was pioneered by the women in rural West Bengal. Interestingly, this seemingly complex weave is based on the simplest stitch of embroidery. Traditionally, any good news, such as pregnancy or wedding announcement, in a Bengali village would be met with women beginning to make a Kantha to celebrate. From embroidered quilts to keep warm during the winter to weaving the initials of their husbands on their respective handkerchiefs to collecting scrap fabric and weaving it together, the forms and types of Kantha are many.
The Kantha weave is meant to tell a story, in that one is unlikely to find two similar pieces of original Kantha. The traditional form of kantha embroidery was completed on soft dhotis and saris with a simple running stitch along the edges. Kantha still continues to be a symbol of immense cultural and social significance in Bengali society; not only does it continue to be a means of livelihood for many women, but Kantha pieces are also passed down from generation to generation as treasured heirlooms.
Given the history of Kantha, I didn’t want to be a disappointment in trying to completely take away the feel of the saree by draping it in a modern style. But having said that, I did want to try something new to show that the Kantha heritage might go back ages, but the modern-day woman can very well wear it today and rock it nonetheless!
Here is what I tried with three of Aditri’s beautiful sarees:
For the first saree, I paired it with a top that had a statement neck and draped it seedha palla style. I belted the saree at the waist, added a few bangles and a septum ring and I was done! It’s my most favourite style of all!
For the second saree, I styled it two ways. One, the normal styling of the saree that we see every day- just added a good pair of earrings and a nose ring to take it up a notch; and second with a contrasting blazer and a top bun – which if you ask me, is Power Dressing done right.
I hope you guys like all the looks that I created, and maybe, just maybe, you fall a little bit in love with the saree too! If you do, my purpose for this blog post is met!