As Diwali approaches, most households are said to have already started cleaning every square inch of the house. And we often hear the young people who get stuck in this swachhta abhiyan complaining: “Mum, ab toh bas karo Diwali ki safai karwana. But this is not the case for the young fashionistas of Delhi-RCN this year!
Taking it upon themselves to make the most of the task at hand, many young locals recycle their mother’s or grandmother’s saris, which end up wrapped in first-class wardrobes and remain unused forever. “I took my mother’s 34-year-old Banarasi sari out of her wardrobe; that Ma wore it for her wedding and it still had the sparkle of the weaves and patterns. I knew it since I wanted to wear it to a friend’s virtual roka ceremony last year, ”says Sanchita Bagchi, Gurugram-based digital marketer.
After crossing the saree again while cleaning Diwali this time, Bagchi finally dusted it off and took it to a tailor for a complete makeover. “Although the sari needs a little restoration work, it will soon be transformed into a skirt that I will cherish all my life. I wanted to do something with it, so that I could keep this piece of heritage with me for always, ”she adds.
And this is the case of Ragini Varma, a lifestyle influencer with roots in Delhi, who apparently took full costs for helping her mom clean up Diwali! “My mom has beautiful sarees that are immaculately stored and still retain their intricate craftsmanship, even though they are decades old. During the annual Diwali cleanse, I came across her gorgeous leheriya sari which has baroque mirror work, and I knew what to do while we had a conversation about how she had worn it so many times and now it’s in her closet but she doesn’t have the heart to part with it.
Varma says she knew straight away that she wanted to turn those gorgeous six yards into a caftan, so that the gorgeous sari “wouldn’t suffer in (her) mom’s closet.” “The next step was to identify a tailor who could turn my vision into reality. We then made sure that the mirror work got used to the caftaan collar for a chic look. Apart from that, we regularly recycle our clothes at home. Lehengas that I wore 10 years ago for a wedding are often reused as a wonderful costume for my niece! I try to make sure that we can consciously recycle clothes and not let expensive pieces rot in the back of my wardrobe.
For Gurugram-based student Pritish Ghoshal, the idea of any festival is defined by “finding mom’s sarees”. He drapes them regularly, to complete his ethnic look. “The intact section of her vintage collection contains very old sarees (some of my aunts, some of my maternal grandmothers and some of hers). Associating these Kantha, pochampalliy, Benarasi, jamdani or dhakai, with my kurtas of different shades, is what always concerns me! I think draping a dhoti is a matter of pride for all Bengalis. And if that dhoti or saree belongs to your mother, you tend to pass on and pass on the feelings of older generations, but in style.
Despite this endeavor, these young people are also saving a lot on Diwali shopping, while also breathing new life into memorable clothes they have seen their mothers wear. “Buying fancy outfits and styling them to look perfect and flowing has always been my passion, but this time the decluttering of Diwali made it more creative and unique,” says Khaytee Sardana Wadhwa, social media consultant Delhi based, adding: “The Diwali cleaning activity gave me a super stimulating idea to make this festival different. I have always had a soft spot for all kinds of sarees, and while cleaning the wardrobe from my mom, I decided to stop buying new outfits and invest my time and creativity in styling my hair with her old satin sarees for the Diwali celebrations this year. Innovatively saree in a contemporary style with accessories, Wadhwa “loves the way things turned out.” She adds: Recycling old clothes not only gives you the freedom to style them the way you want, but also enhances your character inner quality and let the clothes speak for you.
Author’s tweets @siddhijainn