When Buni Shankar came back to India after 18 years abroad, she had one lightning realisation: more people seemed to wear the saree in the Gulf than they did in her hometown.
“I joined the #100sareepact earlier this year and I wore sarees every time I took my children for their after-school lesson. And every time, I was the only one there in a saree. The others would ask if I was visiting a temple or had any other reason for my attire,” she says.
But a few weeks later, on the one occasion Mrs. Shankar decided to wear a pair of jeans, she found every other woman — including a foreigner — draped in sarees. “You inspired us, they told me. That was a wonderful moment.”
Friday evening was full of such stories as around ten women from around city gathered at a hotel for an impromptu get-together. Most of the women were part of the pact, created by two women in Bangalore, one of whom, Anju Maudgal Kadam was in the city, and initiated the meet.
The pact has spread: from one conversation between two friends in Bangalore to cities across the country and even abroad. And it’s not just Indians who are wearing them — some foreigners too, have seen the appeal, says Ms. Kadam, adding that it was a phenomenon that was waiting to happen and that they were just the catalyst. All it involves is wearing 100 sarees in 2015 — repeats are allowed!
Many women now consider the saree a cumbersome wear, the women said, but this is not the case — they’re comfortable and elegant, says Viji Saravannan. And that’s one of the aims of the pact too — to wear all the sarees you have and to enjoy wearing them.
But most of all, each saree has a story behind it and it’s these stories the pact tries to bring out. Ms. Shankar for instance, just received the saree her grandmother had worn on her wedding day, 70 years ago. “I wore it for my daughter’s first dance performance,” she says.
Ms. Kadam’s photograph led a friend from 34 years ago to get in touch with her, whom she came to Chennai to meet.
And as more sarees come out of the top shelves of closets, so do the stories, the shared experiences and the intimacy created both on and off social media. In Chennai and elsewhere, sarees and stories are flowing.