i took this picture to send it to the landlord’s agent, so she’d understand why i was asking for a couple of shelves in my cupboard. i am worried that my sarees stacked, as you can see almost forty sarees high, will get ruined if i leave them like that. it’s already been two years. i hadn’t meant to write anything when i took the shot. though i have to say, i found it interesting.

amitabh bachchan sang the national anthem yesterday at eden gardens before the india-pakistan match at the t20 2016, i was told. i didn’t hear him and yet i can’t help but think all the talk about it must have triggered the thought that got me writing.

this morning, as i looked at the picture again, the words came to me out of nowhere, “punjab sindh gujarat maratha dravida utkal banga… vindhya himachal yamuna ganga…” i gazed at the colourful stacks, and my whole country seemed to be sitting right there in the cupboard.

sarees from all those states named in jana gana mana, and more.

i felt my thoughts stop, do a long wondering double take… i felt a little giddy with a strange joy. maybe it’s time to go to the psychiatrist. but i was happy, euphoric. i also quickly checked to make sure this was not all talk, there was some substance to it.

as i scanned the sarees i noticed, they represented almost all the regions of india mentioned in that line. alas sindh is not part of india any more, but from neighbouring kutch there was bandhni. i looked at the assam silks, the bhagalpuris, the kanjeevarams, the sambalpuri, the kerala kasavu, the kotkis, the dharmavaram, the tangails, the balucharis, the kota, the banarasis, the bishnupuri silks, the bandhej, the patolas, the gadwals, the mysore silk, the chanderis, the crepes with kashmiri stitch, the crepes with parsi gara style embroidery, the phulkari on tussar, the lucknow chikan, the ganga jamna sarees with borders in different colours, it was like all of india was chilling out in my little cupboard without shelves.

what we wear and have worn for centuries, i guess, is part of us, part of identity. but there’s more to the saree i think. i feel the touch of my land as i swish one out and start tucking it into place or just look at them and let their names go through my mind. a peculiar ownership in this, a sense of the familiar, the cherished, of what will always be home. there’s splendour here and a warm quiet comfort.

i have always had a love for the fabrics i grew up around, and wanted to have sarees from each and every state of india, all the different kinds. i have no idea how many weaves and traditional sarees we really have, every day you hear of another one you never knew existed… chettinad saree, for example. or just this afternoon, a lady spoke of goa’s kunbi sarees.

well, if the stacks can be forty sarees high.. they can be fifty sarees high too. and maybe i’ll get my shelves, who knows. in the meantime, i should hear mr bachchan sing the anthem, he has a beautiful voice.

sarees tell stories | bandhani ties  |  rukmini hall  |  that combination  |  the black paithani  |  time for a lal benaroshi  |  talk of the tangail  |  totally fair  |  a saree from kerala  |  sand banks, memory, and baluchari  |  a thing for khadi  |  a madhubani saree or two  |  girls and their sarees  |  when did the kantha become a saree  |  of real and fake chanderi sarees  |  the last saree i flicked from my mother  |  the nizam of mangalgiri  |  patola dreams  | in a pink nylon saree  |  how do you wear your saree  |  muga and memories  |  iron nails and camel dung  |  a lament for a saree  |  checks and no balance from chettinad  |

indrani’s index