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The Whole Nine Yards - 2

Once Upon a Pallu


 A trusty little black dress works its magic at a high-stakes gala and all goes as planned until heads turn to pay due respects to a swooshing six-yarder making its haute entry. Quite clear in her mandate and assured in her stance, this real-life cat-woman wears her cape on her arm.  She is well-heeled, suitably accessorised and, despite a racy neckline, she is utterly graceful. And because she is technically ‘traditionally’ dressed, she is also appropriately attired to address an unexpected boardroom debacle directly after. Back home, when a conservative elder meets her at the door, a firm tug of the pallu over her shoulders serves her just fine. For the benefit of a stricter doctrine, she simply drapes it over her head. Yes, she plays it well. Dignified, contemporary, complete and confident in her ethnicity, she is our sampoorna bharatiya nari, the epitome of elegance.  


True to its cultural roots, very few apparels lend themselves to such versatility and grace as the sari does. And when it comes to the ‘sentiment’ that the sari is, we are trekking down time lines that date back to the birth of crude looms and cruder yarn. Then, we had muslin that famously ran miles through a ring. Now, our Kancheepuram silk gives any ring a run for its money. Every nook of India brings out treasures that drape our ladies in yarns and styles that lend them a distinctiveness which is sometimes earthy, sometimes opulent, every fibre, always, inspiring deep sentiments in all who surround them.


We are rarely aware of it and there is no written rule to this effect anywhere, but there is always a story lying there in those folds which bear different names, each carrying a significance, all of its own. If the ghoonghat is demure incarnate, a bride’s jewel, a solemn lineage and sanctifies Indian deference, a mother’s aanchal* is the go-to panacea for all ail. It is an impenetrable fortress for the terrified ragamuffin hiding from impending danger, be it wicket-walloping off cricketing streets or a high volume domestic flare-up. This matchless power of a screen of fabric is deeply ingrained in every childhood memory in a generation that saw mothers as the first and last resort to anything. This palliative pallu fanned every heat away. It wiped all the tears. It was the antidote to every wound. And when a little girl decided, one day, to act all grown up, “just like ma”, she wound her mum’s sari around her little self and let the world know.

That’s the sari for you. An enduring identity. An essence of security. A paean to ethereal poise. And a quiet contentment that unites times. It was never just a drape. Sentiments are never so simple.

Next in the series: Six Yards of Simmering Svelte
Previously: The Whole Nine Yards 
Come back for more on this.

Comments

Well said. It has held on to its appeal over the years. Can be traditional and a power dressing too!
swarna padma said…
Women look the sexiest in 'our' yards of fabric draped up beautifully. Infact,apparels from across the globe are inspired by a sari, beautiful yards, full of garment originating from the Indian sub-continent...lets embrace elegance in a traditional way.
Tejaswi Uthappa said…
So true - traditional and power dressing in one!
Thankyou.
Tejaswi Uthappa said…
Nicely put, Padma. We must do it better justice :)

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