Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Saree Saga

Time was when all married women were seen in sarees, at least in my part of the world. The training to wear a saree began earlier. The wedding of a close friend or a relative was a good occasion for all young, unmarried women to flaunt their six yards of splendour. These gatherings provided an excuse for prospective grooms and their families to 'see' girls / women of marriageable age in a natural setting without making them self-conscious. So it was almost an unwritten rule that young women wear sarees at others' weddings. Those who tried to deviate from this path by wanting to wear something else were sternly admonished: You'll be getting married soon, what will your in-laws think if you can't wear a saree properly.

Most of the leading ladies in Hindi movies danced around the trees dressed in opulent sarees, with their hair tied in ridiculously high bouffants. How they managed to lip-sync to a song, respond coyly to the hero's advances, prance about in high heels and look as if they were enjoying the whole exercise is anyone's guess. Jokes apart, saree is not an easy wear when it comes to doing several chores. As women discovered the ease with which they could do many things wearing a salwar-kameez or a pair of jeans and a top, they began relegating the saree to the back shelf. Salwar-kameez and its variants took over as the most popular costume for women across the country.

The humble saree was lying low for some time before it made a spectacular comeback. Not being a stitched garment, it is very versatile and can be draped in hundreds of different ways. And when some intelligent designer had the bright idea of giving a whole new glamorous look to the blouse, women started using the saree to make bold fashion statements. As the blouse went from being small to almost non-existent, the stature of saree as a stylish attire rose higher and higher. The birth of designer sarees opened unlimited opportunities. Once a traditional piece of clothing, the saree has become cool and happening. But fashion trends are always mercurial, so there's no telling where the saree will go from here.

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