A Baluchari was a must in my trousseau, I declared. I hardly had any knowledge about sarees then. When I had just entered college we shifted to a rented bungalow very close to the university which belonged to a seventy plus old widowed lady who also happened to be a distant relative. Everyone called her Boroma and I called her dida. She had two sons and two daughters who were staying in Mumbai , Nagpur and Kolkata and who by turns visited her whenever they could. Boroma loved cooking and I have seldom seen anyone so keen at that age to go to the market every morning to pick up fish or meat or the choicest of fresh vegetables. She cooked everything she bought and each day we would get to taste the special dish of the day. She was very fond of me as I would frequently step down and sit with her each day and chat with her. She loved talking about her children and grandchildren and most of all about food. I had seen her wearing the most gorgeous of white sarees which were regularly gifted to her by one of her daughters who was in Kolkata. Our conversations slowly drifted to the topic of sarees and she would tell me how her daughter had purchased dhakais and tangails for her for poojo. She never forgot to mention the price tags. She would often open her old wooden cupboard and show me her collection. So many varieties in pure and simple white….I was awestruck. It was from her that I learnt the names of all the Bengal weaves. During these conversations she mentioned the baluchori and it got stuck. My mother requested Chhobi pishi ( Boroma’s daughter) to kindly pick up one for me on her next visit. Such was the simplicity of those days. I didn’t go through piles and piles of baluchoris before I got to select one. We happily coveted this one which she so lovingly brought for me.
It is a deep pink and navy combination with motifs of a village life on it. It was only later that I learnt about the various mythological stories that are woven into this saree. I was elated at being the proud owner of this piece of art.
The origin of Baluchori sarees is in a small village named Baluchar on the banks of the river Bhagirathi in Murshidabad district of West Bengal.A master weaver takes 20-25 days to complete weaving a baluchori saree.