This was a saree that I always loved, since the time I was a little kid and mom would lovingly take it out of her closet once or twice a year, check that all was ok, fold and put it back in. It was one of my mother’s wedding trousseau sarees – the white one we kannadigas wear over another saree during the key functions of the wedding. She was a social worker and had gone to Chennai on work and decided to go trousseau shopping. She really impressed the cousin she was staying with by managing to do so in barely half an hour. This Banarasi was one of the 4-5 she bought, costing maybe 30-40 rupees at the time.
I loved the ivory silk paired with violet, the beautiful tiny gold ambis on the body and the large glittery ones on the pallu and the softness of that saree…oh my. When I was 7, my aunts ( who were still on speaking terms with each other at the time) – dad’s elder sisters, visited us in Delhi and decided to play dress up with my sister and I. Vasanthy atthe tied the saree for me Karnataka style with a ‘balehannu’ or banana at the waist, precluding the need for a petticoat, and lent me her ‘kivi sarplis’ – long, delicate chains of pearls that go from the ear to be pinned back into the hair, while Champa atthe did my hair and lent me her beautiful earrings – a tiny red ruby star sitting on top of a gold crescent with little emerald chips in it. Mum had a beautiful artificial pearl necklace that I coveted and wore in the photo. We did the photo shoot on a sunny morning in our tiny little backyard which had the most beautiful canna lilies…
Many years later, when I was 24, my favourite uncle, doddappa, took a photo of me posing in the same saree in their new house.
A few years back mum and I were sad to see that the silk was falling apart. So I got the pallu cut off and had it framed. It’s hanging in my parent’s home even now!