Saree Story and Bengali women – Durga Pujo 2020

Saree Story and Bengali women – Durga Pujo 2020

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Dhaak beat, Sandhi Pujo, Dhanuchi dance to Sindoor khela, defined by the opulence and grace of the Bengali traditions, Durga Pujo is considered to be one of the most revered festivals across the Bengali community in India. Though the festival is considered to date back to ancient times in the Hindu religion, the first historic record of such a celebration of the goddess is traced during the 1500s in West Bengal.

While the age- old traditions play an important role, no Bong fails to oversee their fashion goals during Durga Puja. The traditional gorod sarees, heavy gold jewellery and the red oversized bindi are very symbolic of Bengali women in their fineries. But this year, as the world gets hovered by the clouds of uncertainty due to the pandemic and with pandal hopping at a standstill, how do you plan on keeping your style game up through out the days of Durga Puja? Will you adorn the traditional Tant and Baluchari sarees or give way to the contemporary staples like a red and white jamdani dress?

Whether you are a saree-enthusiast or not, sarees have generally been the first choice for women in India during festivities. It’s like when you wear a saree, you carry that sense of maturity and grace by paying homage to the roots. Aishwarya Rai’s traditional Bengali ensembles in Devdas , Vidya Balan’s classic looks in Parineeta or scenes from Satyajit Ray Movies are sure to rekindle your love for the mishti doi Banglaa look.

Social Media and #ootd has made all Indian festivals culture-agnostic. Regardless of whether you are a Bengali or not, you would want to wear a lal pad saree with puff sleeved red blouse and don that big red bindi. More often than not, for the sheer love of food and gaiety, you would want to crash with your Bengali friends to Durgashtami celebrations.

Elaborating on her personal style for Durga Pujo this year, Tuli Banerjee, Social Media Influencer, a fashionista, a foodie and an activist from Ahmedabad shares “Bengalis have a different saree draping style wherein the pleats and pallu are differently styled. However, sadly, most of the Bengalis staying out of West Bengal have forgotten the art of draping the saree in Bengali style. This is year as an ode to the Indian crafts, I am planning to pair my beige coloured Kantha saree with a three-fourth cotton blouse detailed with intricate Kalamkari motifs. I always believe in keeping the accessories minimal if the outfit is too gaudy and vice versa.” 

Women are experimenting with drapes, styles and even fabrics, thanks to the popularity of hashtags #handloomsarees and #iwearhandloom. Unless you add cool quotient to the rooted heritage, youth will always shy away from it.

Talking about the signature colours for Durga Pujo celebrations, Kankana Roy Jain, , a true blue Bengali fashion enthusiast and media professional gushes, “Among the Bengali women, the traditional shada lal pad sarees are more popular. Though, millennial women have gone beyond these traditional sarees to experiment with sheers and silks, the red and white sarees which are the signature colours of Bengali fashion have stayed the same through time and age.” Her style sensibilities and her effervescence will make you want to dress up even on a dreary day.

Designers and retailers have also been catering to the demands of these fashionistas in innovative ways every year. To keep creating new collection every year while staying true to the essence of the festival is indeed a challenging task.

Having launched her latest ‘Abharon’ collection for Durga Puja 2020, Parama Ghosh, Founder of her eponymous clothing label ‘Parama’ in Kolkata talks about the novelty of her collection this year and its inspiration as she shares, “Durga Pujo in Kolkata is an emotion than a festival where Goddess Durga is worshiped in all her aura and beauty. My collection titled “Abharon” speaks of the regal jewellery adorned by Goddess Durga – the shaaj, mukut, shola pith, silver, gold, daaker saaj and rangtar kaj. The collection encapsulates sarees that are bejewelled with zardozi and are detailed with motifs inspired by the jewellery of the Gods and goddesses along with beautiful Pujo themed blouses with Maa Durga’s eyes and Mukut. The collection also features Gorod sarees handwoven with Mulberry silk that are usually worn with Shakha – Pola (Conch Shell and Red Coral Bangles) during festivals.”

Shopping for festivities during pandemic has been nightmarish for most, given the social distancing norms. There is a low rate of footfalls in retail stores and customers for the sheer scare of pandemic are resorting to online shopping.

 Paromita Banerjee, Textile and Fashion Designer, Founder and Director of her label ‘Paromita Banerjee’ remarks about the festive fashion shopping frenzy and dilemma, “Thankfully we had our online portal, months before this pandemic hit us all. In fact, last year our online portal went live.It’s a new ball game for us indeed. Since the brand’s forte lies in hand weaves, we are always of the opinion that buying is about the ‘feel and the touch’ of the fabrics. But this time we were pleasantly surprised. People have been mainly buying our sarees online and getting in touch with us for customised outfits. Since we retail worldwide, our festive shopping had started early on. Our price points are very attractive. We do not believe in whimsical collections; thus people are not hesitant to buy our classics!”

Whether you have bought your saree from in-store or online, whether you are a bengali or not, whether you follow traditions or are sucker for modernity, whatever be your jam, Durga Pujo celebrations got to be in style with kosha mangsho, fish fry and egg roll!

Aishwarya Menon

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