Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The other draping styles

Of the many "many-ies" in India, saree tying is one of them. I know of quite a few in other states like the "Coorgi" style in Karnataka, the Bengali style, the Gujarati style, the Andhra style, the Marathi style, the Orissa style, the Kerala style and the normal style. But in Tamilnadu alone we have the madisaar (Iyer and Iyengar kattu), Kandaagi and the normal one (and a few more like the thodas and other regions).

With the situation today that wearing a saree itself has become a rarity, I wonder what would happen to the other styles. Is it not sad that a whole tradition in saree wearing is slowly fading away?

I have known a couple of maamis in my own street who used to wear the madisaar as a daily norm, whereas the rest confine themselves to madisaar only during sumangali poojais, weddings and such other rituals. In a way I am happy that the tradition is still being carried forward atleast on such occasions.

Women of today lament about not being comfortable in a saree and what if they have to do their regular household tasks in a saree? But imagine a woman in madisaar, who drapes a 9 yard saree (as against a 7 yard normal saree) and do all the household work in it. I bet it would be considered as an almost impossible feat by today's women.

And then the kandaangi selai. I esp like the lovely kosuvam (pleat) which is tucked behind. It gives a nice fancy look - something like a peacock's tuft on its head or a little pony tail. If you notice, both the kandaagi and the madisaar styles have the saree tied a few inches above the feet - which is rather understandable, else it would be tough to manage the saree with a floor kissing length and that too for the kind of work the womenhood are indulged in.

I know it might appear strange for a guy to write about sarees but remember a saree is one of the true reflections of our culture and these styles are specific to our own region. For me, saree means elegance, dignity, richness in simplicity. Ofcourse, more importantly, the dignity lies in the way it is draped as well. Sadly, maybe due to convenience, wearing saree is on the decline these days - even among the rural youth folk. For more on a saree's pride, listen to the Chingunchaan song from the Tamil movie Porkaalam.

I still pass a second look seeing a maami in madisaar or an aachi in kandaangi. Hey, don't get me wrong, its because I wonder if I would be able to see women in such styles again in the future. [For some pictures of differet saree styles in India, click here]