The Saree Stories: Anju Kadam On Memories, Wars And Ivory Tussars
Heard of the hashtag #100SareePact? It came about to revive and popularise saree wearing in India. The traditional attire is far from India’s preferred dress. In this day and age, people want to dress in whats convenient, and so therefore we see so many young men and women opt for western clothes. The perceived discomfort of a saree is a myth and many women who wear it find it as comfortable or sometimes even more convenient than western clothes.
Anju Kadam, a former business journalist and now an entrepreneur– is the founder of the #100SareePact. Anju grew up in a non-traditional household and didn’t really start wearing sarees until she started working. Her mom was her inspiration. Anju shares, “For me, a saree and a bindi have always been a symbol of a strong identity. If I think of ma, I always think of her in a saree. Some of my aunts have been influencers as well, but mostly my mother”
“It was ordinary women telling us extraordinary stories about their lives – #100sareepact is the best thing that’s happened to me in the last 5 years”
At 22, Anju began working and found that when she dressed formally, she was taken more seriously. She said, “People took me seriously only when I wore something formal, so I chose to wear sarees”. What’s more formal than a saree in India? She tells us that even today, when she has a serious or important meeting, and needs a bit of a confidence boost, she always chooses to wear a saree.
“I told myself that I am going to honour each and every saree and wear all of the sarees that I own”
She wanted to do more with her passion for the 6 yards. That’s what sowed the seeds to start the #100SareePact. “I told myself that I am going to honour each and every saree and wear all of the sarees that I own” She added, “I posted my first story on 1st March, 2015, and Ally (my co-founder) joined in a couple of days later. However, what was most surprising was that by 10th March, it had gone viral, and women were pouring in with their saree stories. It was ordinary women telling us extraordinary stories about their lives – this hashtag is the best thing that’s happened to me in the last 5 years”
“I loved the sarees they brought – white ivory, smooth, handwoven Tussar with soft colours of exquisite hand embroidery, sometimes a surprising pop of colours in the midst of pastels.”
When we asked Anju about her favourite saree – she recalled her time as a child in Mumbai during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, and how men from Kashmir would come to Mumbai to make money and sell Tussar silk sarees. She says, “The war lasted for just about two weeks, but the ravages of war were felt for both sides for very long. Around this time, the Pathans (I thought they were) began to visit Bombay with bundles of their artwork” She adds, “I loved the sarees they brought – white ivory, smooth, handwoven Tussar with soft colours of exquisite hand embroidery, sometimes a surprising pop of colours in the midst of pastels. I asked for a Kashmiri saree and got this one from my Ma. It holds fond memories of the little girl that had seen sadness in the eyes of grown men and also immense pride in their handiwork.”
When Anju posted about her Kashmiri saree online, a lot of women from across the border reached out to her. Some joined in with the pact, others thought it would create a backlash so they quietly went about wearing their sarees. Anju feels overwhelmed and says “Wars are fought between countries, connections are made between people. Its fulfilling to know that our pact has touched hearts everywhere”
The pact is not just a way for women to show off their sarees, but rather relive memorable moments in their lives. Sarees are not just fabrics but a weave of thought, memories and essences. Whenever you wear your favourite saree, you feel this familiar sense of comfort and fondness and that is what a saree stands for.
SheThePeople.TV is meeting with women who love their sarees, and believe in the power of looms. Have a story? Share it with us – write a note in the comments, and we will be right in touch.
Pic credits: Anju Kadam