Saris for Deepavali-then and now 25/10/2013

When I newly came to Madras nearly four decades ago, shopping for Deepavali sari meant ‘Pattu or Kanjeevaram sari’ and anything less than that was looked down upon especially by close relatives. Therefore one had to necessarily go for the ‘prestigious’ sari, more to avoid raised eyebrows and  undesirable comments. Since the variety of fabrics was limited, the choice being between silk with and without zari  and  Gadwal  saris which were of almost the same price, the preference invariably was for the first because of the silver in the zari   for its resale value. Reputed shops were as few as three or four, Nallis ranking first on the list of   traditional shoppers, then came Lakshman Shah (which is closed), Kumaran (all three in T.Nagar) and   Radha Silk in Mylapore.

But today  we have  branches of all the three  spread  over different parts of the city  and also stocking the ubiquitous salwar sets to keep pace with the changing fashions  of Chennaiites. With  the arrival  of  shops like  Pothys and  Tulsi Silks, and  boutiques like  Nalli Next and Palam Silks, Chennaiites’  shopping for their festive ware begins much in advance of the festival. As the festival approaches, the inevitable  query is, ‘have you finished Deepavali shopping?’ If you say yes, you are asked next, ‘Is  it kanjeevaram  or anything else?’.The  ‘anything’ ranges from silk cottons, mysore silks, georgettes, chiffons, crepes, etc.

If you say you  purchased a kanjeevaram silk sari with zari  you can consider yourself lucky if the  questions  stop with that. But don’t  be too sure   because  the smart chennaiite  might ask next,  ‘is  the zari  pure or tested?’


n.meera raghavendra rao  


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