Being Women

Saris, Festivities and Fashion

Durga Puja and Saree are inextricably associated. Members of TSS share their memories related to the festivities.

As the festive season begins, The She Saga team reminisces about sarees and the multitude of memories associated with them.

Pujo is about experimenting with draping styles

It was not always like this. That I will turn a saree enthusiast like I am today. But, when I go back to my childhood memories, I remember the Pujo Sananda edition. That’s how my interest began in the essence of Pujo and saree. I vividly remember the Sasthi shaaj, the Saptami get-together look, the Astami anjali look, the Nabami hang-out with friends and the various models showcasing eminent designers. What churned the maximum curiosity in me is the different draping styles and the inherent question, who does this? Nevertheless, as days moved ahead I turned into the adult version of me. I tried to create my own puja-look calendar. Now that I can call myself a saree lover for the lack of a better adjective, I collect sarees around the year. They are my prized possessions and I don’t mind not creating a fortune yet filling my cupboard with different weaves. This year I will experiment with different draping styles and each day will be filled with excitement for the final look.


The Devi Maa’s arrival taught a little girl to drape a sari…

As Devi Ma came home, a little girl learned how to drape a saree. Durga Puja was around the corner I kept looking at Ma’s sarees longingly. Like always, I tried to copy her but not having any handy dupattas, I tried using bedsheets and tablecloths, turning any long cloth in the house into a clumsy saree. Unable to manage the heavy cloth I kept getting entangled in them!!
So one bright Sharat morning my father took the biggest gamcha and painstakingly taught me how to wear a saree !! At the tender age of seven, I learnt how to drape it with a gamcha. From playing Teacher or Mom to my dolls I would be in my tiny gamcha saree acting all grown up and adjusting the tinier pallu every two minutes! Such was the craze that I tried climbing the bamboo pandal of our neighbourhood Pujo wearing my makeshift saree and fell, hurting myself. That day Ma let me choose one of her lighter sarees. She showed many colourful ones but my heart was set on white chiffon with red flowers. Ma looked ethereal in it and it was my favourite saree. She gave in reluctantly and a happy me strutted about the pandal in a red top and the soft breezy saree. I showed off to my friends wearing an adult saree for the first time!


I became a celebrity

Last year Durga Pujo, we had planned for a “dhunuchi naach” on Saptami evening. On Dday, I dressed up in a traditional red and off-white saree (draped traditionally) with all the required accessories. As I alighted from the car in front of the pandal, a crowd of women rushed towards me. “Ma’am, can we click a photograph with you?” They chimed. They were so enamoured with the traditional attire that everyone, even their friends and children clicked photographs with me. I felt like a celebrity even before I had hit the stage. The result – I got a fan following and lots of Facebook requests.


My students taught me to drape a sari

It was my first Navami at the workplace that year, and colleagues insisted I wear a Sari. That put me in a fix. I honestly didn’t know how to. Long story short, one of them offered to drape it for me at work.

The Navami morning, I reached college early and waited for my friend in the Ladies’ Common Room. Unfortunately, my friend was running late and the room was gradually flooded with students (all looking gorgeous in their lehengas). I waited at one end, slightly embarrassed, “Oh when will my colleague come?”

“Maam!” One of the students suddenly exclaimed, “Aren’t you wearing a Sari?”

“Err…” I fidgeted, “Apara Maam will be doing it, she’s late…”

“Maam, Hum Hain Na! We’ll drape it for you.”

And even before I could react, they took the packet from me. And soon, there were about five of my students, draping a Sari on me.

“Which style Maam? Normal, Gujarati or Bengali?”

They knew all of that? Well, I opted for Gujarati.

My colleague walked in 10 minutes later, apologizing. One look at her face, and I knew the students had done a fabulous job on me, that too in a jiffy. Honestly, I was happy with the way I looked. That day changed my life.

Turns out, the young kids left a lasting impression on me. It’s been 10 years, and I have stopped stitching dresses out of Saris.  But also, though not perfectly, I have learned to drape them and feel comfortable. ‘The 9 days, 9 shades of Pooja has turned me into a Sari enthusiast, and I couldn’t be prouder.


Saris reminds me of my grandfather

The earliest sari memories are always related to Durga puja. I remember wearing my grandmother’s sari, clutching my Dadu’s hand and walking from pandal to pandal. Dadu’s face would glow with pride as people around would complement his granddaughters’ who had started draping a sari from a tender age.

As years passed, we grew up. Every time I went back to Asansol, where my grandparents lived, I would wear a sari just to see him smile. After I got married, Dadu was the happiest. He said, “Finally you can wear a laal-paad sari with a big teep and a lot of sindur.’ I stepped out in the broadest laal-paad that day, a big teep and lots of sindur. It’s been 12 years since Dadu left us. But every pujo, I keep one day for the traditional look that Dadu loved. This pujo, I will be holding the hands of my little girl who wears a sari every pujo. Pujo is about reliving those long-lost memories and creating new ones.  


How TSS began!

I moved back to India in 2015. Since then, the saree has been my go-to attire. My little one hardly sees me in anything else. He is also very fond of my saris. He appreciates the way I look in them. The admiration I have seen in his eyes is precious. Every time I wear a saree, he says,” You are looking pretty, Maa.” And that is all I need to hear.

This is also the opportunity to share that TSS began with sarees. As I lived in the US, in those days. I would wear 2-3 saris during the Durga Pujo celebrations there. Mostly cottons and silks. Everyone, the North Indians and the South Indians would ask me, “How do you drape the saree so neatly?”

Those days I would also be seen carrying my firstborn around wearing a saree. “How do you manage?” They would ask. Women looked at me in awe. That was when one of them asked me to start a FB page to give saree draping tips. And that’s how TSS was born.


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