Saree spells spectacle of colour, culture and charisma

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‘Auckland New Zealand Saree Speak’ group registers popularity

Venkat Raman

Sixty women of Indian origin got together last fortnight, each of them sparkling in her chosen version of the Saree, an attire that is fast becoming the desire among other communities around the world.

They were a part of the ‘Auckland New Zealand Saree Speak,’ a Facebook-based group that now boasts of 350 members and if other diners and passers-by at Saffron Restaurant (located at 57 Cavendish Drive, where the Meeting was held) in Manukau were struck by the variety of shades, patterns and the way in which the sarees were worn, it was entirely comprehensible.

Draping the world

For, over the years, the Saree has transcended beyond its South Indian precinct and spread across India, the Sub-Continent and the world.

At our own Business Awards held in November every year, we have guests who make their annual purchase just to appear in a Saree, adding dignity to the event of the year.

The ‘Auckland New Zealand Saree Speak Meeting,’ held on November 30, 2019, saw our women comparing notes on what was being adorned, its origin, selection and of course its price.

Krithika Rajendran, one of the organisers, wrote to say that the ‘Auckland New Zealand Saree Speak’ was the fourth in a series, which is registering increased popularity.

Overwhelming enthusiasm

“The enthusiasm of our women was overwhelming and there was no dearth for ideas. Guests received a warm welcome with a door gift of custom-made Indian jewellery and guided to their tables, each named after a Saree. The theme of the Meeting was ‘Sustainable Sareeing.’ I am not sure if there is such an expression but they became the buzz words throughout the meeting and even thereafter,” she said.

Contrary to popular belief, even the most spirited conversationalist can become somewhat reserved on some occasions but not at the ‘Auckland New Zealand Saree Speak.’

Alluring alliterations

“Each of us had to introduce ourselves with an alliteration of the first letter of our names. For instance, it was ‘Kind, Kinetic Krithika’ and ‘Ruling, Razzmatazz Rani’ and we had to describe the saree that we were wearing and the reason for choosing it for the Meeting. Some of us recited haikus on wearing the Saree Sustainably and self-composed poems in various languages. Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust General Manager Nilima Venkat, who was the Chief Guest, delivered an inspiring speech,” Ms Rajendran said.

Apart from fun and laughter, the women also enjoyed a quiz competition and lucky dip prize, followed by photo and video sessions. There were no bounds for selfies.

Women seated at Table 2 (Arushi, Arvinder Vasudeva, Sumedha Misra, Pusarla Sridevi Krishna and Vasu Moses) won the Quiz Competition, while Arushi was the winner of the Lucky Dip prize. She received a Kancheepuram Silk Saree as a gift from Ms Suresh.

About Saree Speak

‘Saree Speak’ was launched by Vini Tandon Keni of Goa in Western India with a simple but empowering vision.

Ms Keni said that she started the Group mainly to inspire herself to wear sarees regularly, thereby setting an example for others, transcending barriers of religion, politics, race, caste, creed.

The ‘Saree Speak’ members are fondly referred to as ‘Saree Sakhis.’

‘Auckland New Zealand Saree Speak Meet,’ was initiated by Bavani Ct Suresh, who, after scrolling down the ‘Saree Speak Page’ (on Facebook) and noting the many meets occurring worldwide, decided to post a question to women in Auckland for a ‘Saree Speak Meet’ during the Christmas/New Year break, about a year ago.

The rest, as it turned out, was easy.

About the Saree

Stated to be more than 5000 years old, the Indian saree has been mentioned in the Vedas as a form of draping to extol the virtues of a woman.

There are several references to the fact that for a long time in South India the saree was one piece of material that served as both skirt and veil.

In North Indian miniature paintings, (particularly Jain, Rajasthani and Pahari schools from the 13th to the 19th centuries), it seemed to consist of the diaphanous skirt and an equally diaphanous veil draped over a tiny bodice. This style still survives as the more voluminous lehanga of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Gradually, this skirt and veil were amalgamated into one garment, but when and how this happened is not clear.

Some costume historians believe that the men’s dhoti, which is the oldest Indian draped garment, is the forerunner of the saree. Till the 14th century, the dhoti was worn by both men and women.

Thereafter, it is believed that the women’s dhoti started to become longer, and the accessory cloth worn over the shoulders was woven together with the dhoti into a single cloth to make the saree.

Photo Caption:

  1. Organisers of the Auckland New Zealand Saree Speak 4 (from left) Urvashi Shinde, Krithika Rajendran, Bavani Ct Suresh and Gargi Trivedi.
  2. Vanitha Sarkkunan, Melani Jeyakumar, Urvashi R Shinde, Sucheta Banerjee, Arvinder Vasudeva, Bavani Ct Suresh,Rajani Dhatathiri, Krithika Rajendran, Vasu Moses, Vidula Kulkarni  Rajni Chetal, Debbie Debanjali, Rani Nalam, Jyothi Vindamuri.
  3. Krithika Rajendran,Rani Nalam, Deepti Zantye, Pusarla Sridevi Krishna, Hetal Jani, Sunitha Makkad
  4. Vani Prusuthman, Rajni Chetal, Sucheta Banerjee, Bavani Ct Suresh, Debbie Debanjali, Rajani Dhatathiri, Vanitha Sarkkunan, Urvashi Shinde, Melanie Jeyakumar, Krithika Rajendran, Shalini Joby.

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Of all the dress materials worn by women in the world, the Indian Saree is unique in that it is the only garment that could be worn by any person, anytime, anywhere in the world.

It also remains the only garment that would conform to any cultural, age or income group in India and the rest of the world.

The saree is also perhaps the only garment that could be worn to preserve the traditional values of a religion or society or reflect the modern trend of exhibitionism and glamour.

The saree is tailored as costume by performers of Indian classical dances, including Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi. Such costumes can be worn generally by the person for whom they are specifically made.

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