I still remember how fascinated I was as a kid when Maa used to drape me in a Saree. My grandmother got me my first saree from Calcutta. It was a yellow coloured saree, and I had draped it on the occasion of Saraswati Puja. My love for the six yards has not changed much since then! Maa often bought chiffon sarees instead of the regular taant/cotton ones, which made an easy drape. As a teenager, I would often lurk around Maa’s wardrobe, eyeing all her sarees and would eagerly wait for Saraswati Pujo every year to drape one of them. Dad would often bring sarees when he would return after his official tours from different states of India, and Maa kept building her own collection over the years.
When I shifted to Kolkata after my graduation, my wedding date was fixed. Now, I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that Bengali’s have an undying love for Benarasi Sarees and cannot imagine their wedding day without the customary red benarasi. It has almost become a “trademark” (if I am allowed to say that), for the Bengali Bride to wear a red benarasi. As they say, “Laal Tuk Tukey Bou”. Some even digress from the typical “Laal Tuk Tukey Bou” and go for the Pink, Dudhe-Aalta, or even the Maroon Benarasi for their wedding. But I have seldom seen a Bengali Bride without her Benarasi on her wedding day. And to be very honest, I have seldom seen the bride wearing the same Benarasi Saree in the next few years. Some complained about outgrowing their blouse, others said that the saree was too heavy for a humid city like Kolkata, and some even went to the extent of saying that the wedding saree should be kept intact and hence they never draped it for their entire lives!
All this made me shudder, and I knew one thing for sure. I would not drape a Benarasi Saree for my wedding. The reason was very obvious, I did not want a heavy saree for my wedding that would never see the light of day again. Also, neither me nor my family had any undying love for the Benarasi. However, if not Benarasi, then what would be my wedding apparel? I remember casually flipping through the pages of a magazine called Sananda, when one very particular saree struck me. And it struck me so hard, that I had set my heart on it. I did not know where would I find it in a big city like Calcutta, but I was not the one to give up easily.
Me and Maa started our saree hunt on a hot sweltering weekend afternoon. We first visited the shops of Park Street. I got to knew many varieties of saree that one could drape for a Bengali wedding as a bride. There were Kanjeevarams in possibly all sort of bright hues, then there was the Uppada Silk. However, I was not too keen on buying a silk for my wedding. We hopped on from one store to another. Finally we spotted our dream drape in Rangoli, Park Street. And believe it or not, it took me simply 5 minutes flat, and Maa’s nod to finalise the saree that later went on to become my wedding drape. The salesman smiled and told us that they had not come across a bride till date, who was this quick at selecting her wedding saree.
About the Saree: The deep red richly woven handloom saree is a “Khaddi Georgette Saree” with antique zari buttas and an embellished border. The pallu of the saree has heavy zircon stone work all over it. It has large antique coloured motifs running throughout the body. The saree made a very easy drape, and was heavy only at the pallu since it had many zircon stones adorned over it. Overall I was very comfortable in the saree. It still remains my most expensive and favourite saree in my wardrobe!
When I had got married more than four years back, not many would dare to drape something different for their wedding, other than a benarasi. However, times are changing now. I followed my instincts. Many raised an eyebrow, while many appreciated me for my thoughtful choice. The purpose of penning this is, we should not get bogged down by societal pressure. If there is an idea that you want to implement, specially on a day which is to be one of the most cherished day of your life, then go for it. There is no point buying a saree which is never to be worn again. I have personally draped my wedding saree quite a number of times, and paired it with different blouses.
Credits: ~~Photography by Prasanta Singha, Makeup By Ujjwal Debnath~~