Strength In Saree
There is grace in a saree, memories in a saree, there is love in a saree, colours, emotions, stories too but most importantly there is Strength In A Saree.
Over the last few years, as I have travelled across India and listened to stories of women draped in sarees I have come to realise that more than anything else there is #strengthinsaree .
Women have told me stories of receiving prestigious awards in their sarees, their fist day at work, getting married in their mothers saree. I have also heard stories of loss and dread, of being beaten by husbands every night, of receiving news of losing a loved one and of fighting terrifying battles of illness - all in the saree.
So we at Ek Dori decided to document these stories of strength on, (yes, you guessed it) a saree! It is a kora handloom saree with a minimal blue border, we wish for it to travel and be filled with the colours of your lives, the colours of your stories and the colours of your strength.
The saree is hand embroidered with a few words that tell the essense of the story, worn by the storyteller and then passed on to the next storyteller.
Our first Story Of Strength In A Saree comes from Vini Tandon Keni of @sareespeak.
Vini had us embroider the words "People collect coins, souvenirs..I collect beautiful women in their lovely sarees", which we felt was so apt because Vini has created a beautiful compassionate community of people with a shared passion for sarees, but more than that it is a community where women feel safe, free and comfortable sharing their sorrows and joys, it is a community that has seen beautiful friendships blossom.
Talking to Vini has been an absolute pleasure and I am sure you will enjoy getting to know Vini better too.
Ek Dori : Vini what was your childhood like?
Vini : I come from a small family, with a strict father. I spent my childhood days in Calcutta, Vizag and Goa.
Ek Dori : Growing up, what was style to you?
Vini : I have always had a creative bent of mind and a love for fabrics. I would buy beautiful Rajasthani and Gujarati prints from various exhibitions that I would visit and put my creativity to work. I would make lovely flowy Anarkalis and bright khadi kurtas.
Ek Dori : Is there an incident from your childhood / days in college that left a mark on you?
Vini : Yes, infact I remember very distinctly this one episode that taught me a huge lesson, one that I keep in mind always.
When I was much younger, Jaya Pradha was shooting in our neighbourhood. My mother and I decided to experience the movie shooting and meet Jaya Pradha. Initially they refused to let us in, but when we persisted they did give in. We could however tell that Jaya Pradha was not happy at all seeing us.
My mother then complimented her saying "Oh my God!!! you are so beautiful." and that really is all it took. It just changed everything, the same Jaya Pradha who was pretty displeased at seeing us, was now having a long animated conversation with us.
It taught me a valuable lesson, that complimenting people is such a simple but profound thing you can do to break the ice and build relationships. 'Always be nice' to people is the foundation that Saree Speak is built on.
Ek Dori : So lets come to Saree Speak, how did it start?
Vini : It was just meant to be. Once my children had grown up and gone away to college I decided to join a few saree groups that were very popular then. I felt a connect with sarees and I felt the need for a beautiful community with a shared love and positivity, and that is how Saree Speak started.
Ek Dori : Some of you might not know, but Vini has 10 groups, some on movies, travel, shayari, art and more. Saree Speak is the biggest with over 100000 members now.
So Vini what is the secret behind this tremendous growth?
Vini : I think it is the love and passion. Saree Speak is so much more that just a saree community, it is a community where women can share and speak without fear of judgement and awkwardness. This is where we share so much and get to know each other, strong bonds are formed with people living all across the world.
We also have a strict rule against any kind of negativity, it is not a place where we encourage people pulling each other down. We make sure everything is approved and everything is positive before it is published.
Ek Dori : Vini, you are a mother, a wife, a daughter, a passionate individual. Which has been the hardest role you have had to play? Which has been the most rewarding role you have had to play?
Vini : The hardest and the most rewarding role that I have had to play is that of a mother. We attach a lot of expectations with our children and forget that we had to learn our own lessons and they will have to, too.
As a mother I learnt to be patient and accepting of everyone. It has made me realise that sometimes there is nothing much we can do, that we need to let go and understand that everything changes with time.
Ek Dori : In closing, Vini tell us what the SAREE means to you?
Vini : Well, the saree has changed my life. It has given me an identity, especially here in Goa - if anyone wears a saree the first person they think of is me.
A saree is a conversation starter, it is a 'zariya' to build bonds that last a lifetime.
A saree is versatile, it is accepting and for me it is the thread that binds so many women to each other and to me.