There’s that moment when you are picking out something to wear to a function and you open your wardrobe and wonder what to wear? You pick out the latest outfit in fashion and dress up to the nines. A couple of wears later (that is if you’re not attending functions that has the same people) that outfit is put to the back of your wardrobe or given away without much thought and the process is repeated outfit after outfit. This is pretty much what happens with me and my sisters a lot of the time.
Growing up I have memories of mum showing us her outfits and sarees pre kids and even trying on a couple of outfits that she had embroidered herself. I don’t think I took much notice of everything that was in mums pehti (a trunk that traditionally held all the brides wedding gifts) and it was closed and in a way not really thought of again as we lost mum when she was 50, before we were at an age for her to open the pehti again and show us her outfits through an adults eyes.
This all was about to make a dramatic change as my dad had decided to move home. Little did I know that this would trigger a series of events leading me to this point today.
One evening as we were packing away stuff at my dad’s before he moved the pehti made its return. There it was right in the centre of the room, I remember that moment vividly, the four of us sisters were sat on the floor in the living room and the pehti in the middle of us and as we opened it, what happened next was a complete shock. I don’t think we were expecting to be as mesmerized by the sarees that were in there as what we were. I mean we’ve seen pictures and knew mum was fashionable in her younger years but it was quite literally 5 yards of pure elegance coming out one after the other.
The sarees looked stunning, the material was still so soft, the thread work was still pristine, the colours were still bright and as we took them out we knew that we could wear these beauties. They didn’t look old, they didn’t look outdated they just looked elegant. Dad was over the moon when he saw us picking the ones we wanted and I know he was happy because it meant he was passing down something that once belonged to his beloved wife. Our brother was still a teenager at the time, but we kept some aside that we could gift his future wife. After losing mum, this was a way for us all to have a part of her with us at all times and to wear something that she had cherished and kept with such love is a feeling I can’t truly describe.
Take a step back for a second and have a think, has there ever been a saree of your mums that you fell in love with when you first saw it in a picture? Or seen it hanging her wardrobe knowing one day it may be yours? Maybe you’ve imagined how you would wear it or how you would change the blouse so its something you can wear? I did, mum’s blue turquoise saree with gold threaded circles embroidered throughout the saree and I knew one day that was going to be mine (albeit my sister also had her eyes on the same saree, which can cause those sisterly looks which could kill).
It is these questions that today as the owner of Saree Walee that made me realise that sarees are not like other Indian outfits.
The saree is a timeless fashion that no matter when it is being worn and after how long it will always look like it belongs. You can always rely on a saree to look beautiful and striking. A mother can pass down her sarees that she wore when she was younger to her daughters for it to be worn and cherished as she did in her day. Generation to generation the women can change the blouses, change the jewellery they will wear but the saree with remain the same and not ever go out of fashion.
“People tend to believe that to be modern you have to disengage from your heritage, but it's not true.” Moza bint Nasser
45 years on from when mum first wore her sarees, we now wear them in our own styles. We have all had our own blouses made when we wear them, people will always comment on how beautiful the sarees are and are in awe when we tell them that they belonged to mum. There are those few family members that will remember mum wearing those same sarees and they will smile because it brings back happy memories for them all. Wearing a saree that one belonged to mum means that we were wearing something so unique that no one would be wearing that same saree any where we went. The sarees are a part of our family’s heritage that have been passed down to us as family heirlooms. This gives me the true value of a saree and why I love them so much.
Sending you all lots of love this Mother's Day
Owner of Saree Walee xxx