Saree: To be or not to be?My Art Basket
By Manisha Gawade
We have often been haunted by this question and the correct answer is “to be” for sure! The unstitched garment has always found its place in India since the Rig Veda 5000 years ago to the Indus Valley and finally to the modern India.
As old as the tradition of saree wearing goes, hand in hand goes the art of handloom weaving. The fact is that over centuries it became highly specialised and has fine tuned itself to the tastes of the various regions of India to cater to the specific needs and cultural styles of the regions they came from.
Bollywood had always glamourised the garment since the launch of its first cinema experience yet the new age film stars are not really doing it great service and are unknowingly pushing these handwoven textiles on a back seat.
Ofcourse they will have a huge list of silly explanations by adorning shimmery machine made net or nylony fabrics and feeling like divas which ignorant, so called designers serve them on a plate. But in reality even if 5 percent of these actresses start wearing the traditional handloom sarees it will change the way the rest of India thinks about them.
An interesting fact to notice would be that India is home to 95% of the world’s total handwoven fabric. And handloom weaving is the second largest employment sector in the country next only to agriculture. Yet, the state of a lot of these weavers is not very great and often loose their battles between demand and supply. My heart goes out to many such weavers all the time and I fear that the day is not too far when so many of these traditional handlooms will be lost in the sands of time, and will be extinct forever.
And for a change we will stop blaming the government, as we always do. They have done things from making amends in the latest budget changes last year to organising the many handloom melas and haats, to promote the weavers with all their might. This time the real culprits are you and me. Each time we want to go for an evening out or a party, please confess to yourself if you reach out to that pair of jeans and top and not the saree. And I rest my case, my lord!
Our grandmothers were truly the smarter lot in preserving this precious cultural heritage. There have been a lot of revival efforts made by social media groups and lakhs of women have joined it. But what we need is a more widespread effort and awareness to bring the saree back into fashion.
The intricate weaves, from Pashmina saree till kanjivarams and the famous Onam saree from Kerela covers each state of india in between longitudinally.
And from the Patan Patola in Gujarat till the pure Muga Silk from Assam covers each latitude of India.
The machines have been a blessing for the work but not when it comes to the handlooms giving bread and butter to millions across the country. The choice is simple and we need to make it right now- Saree to be or not to be??