The Travelling saree.
I saw a couple of friends wear it on Instagram, my curiosity piqued and I read more about it. I heart the concept.
The saree as a garment is a one size fits all and I loved the idea of contributing to the project so I reached out to Payal Parija, last week, to ask where the saree was…and it happened to be in my city of Bengaluru ! Quick back and forth and it came to me, ironed and ready to wear.
The concept of a travelling saree is our own cherished ritual in the extended Maudgal family. My sisters live abroad as do my nieces and nephew scattered in Australia, Europe, UK and USA. And often, a saree travels from one continent to another, with my mother who visits us all in turn, so we each get a few chances to drape it.
This #TheTravellingSari is now building a chain of wearers ( hopefully) around the globe, same saree, and each wearer brings out their uniqueness in their wear.
I knew I had to wear it over the weekend before I passed it on to the next in the series. The weekend arrived and it presented two occasions of wear – a Vishu lunch and a Protest.
I wrote in to Payal again, asking if she would be okay with me draping the saree for the protest. I am a woman with strong views and I would have joined the protest no matter what I chose to wear to it, and I did not need to push my agenda on a platform that speaks fashion. BUT, if a platform that speaks fashion was willing to keep things real, and be relevant to the goings-on in society, I would be happy to make the statement, I said.
I am very, very relieved that #TheTravellingSari joined in the protest. It matters. It matters that we speak up and not remain silent.
Here are the facts.
According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data, there were 34651 reported rapes in 2015 with NCRB. That is 95 rapes a day, 4 every hour, 1 every fifteen minutes in India. And these are only the ones that have been reported.It is an alarming statistic and it is happening in our streets, in cars, in buses, in fields, in our homes.
Wake up, India !
After we’ve all protested, raised slogans, made charts, written posts, we will go back to our busy lives until the next gruesome incident comes to light. Yes, the government needs to have more stringent laws, assure swifter justice. We must continue to fight for justice for EVERY Asifa, every rape victim, never stop asking for swift conviction, arrests, removal from positions of power of anyone that is guilty, regardless of their political alliance. But we have work to do in our homes, in our surroundings as well.
We need to ask ourselves, have we not contributed to the rape culture prevalent in our country ? How have we brought up our daughters ? Our sons ? Have we given equal opportunity to them ? Have we taken off the blinkers we choose to wear selectively against patriarchy ? That joke you cracked at the bar over the beer you shared with a buddy, it was derogatory to women, did you push him over the edge to commit the act by giving license to the thought ?
A rapist lurks in the midst of us all, in our social influence even, the statistics shows us this, have we ignored the subtle or overt abuse leading up to it ? Did you know that 98% of rapes in the country are committed by people known to the victim ?
India, we are all guilty. We are. And that is the uncomfortable truth we must own up to.
And it doesn’t just happen to a poor child belonging to a nomad tribe, it could be you. Wake up !
I took #TheTravellingsari along with me to #mystreetmyprotest to ask for#justiceforeveryasifa. I carried the strength of the women who wore the saree before me, along with me. I was joined by my family, my daughter who sat up late the previous night to make the charts, and by neighbours and friends.
As the saree leaves me today onwards it’s journey, I hope it meets strong, honest women who leave their strength wrapped in it’s folds. Women who speak up, are unafraid to be counted as thinking, nurturing, team players, leaders, policy makers, contributors, educators, change makers.
Sumitra, I was told this saree was yours, see, now we met through her. A lovely cotton in a bold red. She does not hide, she is unapologetic to stand out. Just like you and I.