Who knew that a casual conversation between two friends about their love for sarees would touch the chord of millions of ladies across the globe. Anju Maudgal Kadam, a former business journalist, and Ally Mathan, a perfumer, are two urban Indian women who share their love for sarees.
'Ordinary women, extraordinary moments', a phrase coined by Anju and Ally is what captures the true essence of the #100SareePact. What started with an idea to showcase their love for sarees has now gone viral on social media and is being seen as a movement to revive the saree culture in India.
Women across the world are making saree a medium to tell their stories on the social media. The #100SareePact is a challenge that women are taking to wear 100 sarees in 365 days. All they need to do is to post their pictures in those sarees and share a story citing the reason why they are wearing it. Their Facebook posts are hash tagged with #100sareepact.
"The #100sareepact is building narratives with the memories attached to each saree. Ally and I decided that we will wear sarees a hundred times this year and tell our stories. We were joined by our friends and their friends," says Anju as she recalls how the journey all began.
While growing up, every Indian girl from every walk of life has once in a while, pulled out her mother’s saree from her closet and flaunted it in elegance. With time, however, we get so busy in our lives that we get into the "convenient mode". A pair of trousers or a skirt is may be much easier to carry than a six yard saree in one’s busy everyday routine. But in the process are we drifting away from our roots?
"The sarees are here to stay. We see no reason why the sarees that tumbled out should go back into the corners of their wardrobes. This movement is helping people bring those sarees out of their closets. It is as comfortable as any other outfit. Just look around, no matter whether they are going for a walk or going to sleep or are busy with their work, many still wear sarees while performing their daily chores. We are not asking you to wear sarees every day. All we are saying is that let’s bring it out from our wardrobes, twice a week!" say Ally and Anju.
The duo emphasises that the pact is not about wearing the most fashionable saree or wearing a new saree every time before sharing a photo. "Most of the sarees that we have, remind us of our mothers, aunts, or some other dear one. There have been multiple stories of love and friendship but never has there been a story of hatred. This is a positive movement and is getting much more love and support than we could have ever imagined," Anju adds.
The success of this movement can be measured by the fact that Facebook is flooded with pictures of women tagging themselves with #100sareepact. Not just from India but those living in places as far as Australia, Netherlands, Singapore, China, Sweden, United States of America, Pakistan among many others have also joined the movement to confess their love for the six-yard garb.
What started as a series of posts between friends got so popular that it took the shape of a dedicated website. What is even more exhilarating is that the pact will soon be also inked into a book. Anju and Ally are in the process of selecting the best stories shared by women to be compiled in the form of a book which is scheduled to hit the market in 2016.
"We want this pact to go in the pages of history and leave behind a legacy. Jacaranda Literary Agency will represent the book that Ally and I will write. It will have a selection of stories along with our journey of the #100sareepact. We want people to know the essence of the pact. The book will be released next year but pre-orders will begin soon," Anju says.
It has not even been a year since the pact was initiated but in such less time, it has received immense recognition and appreciation. While the pact will celebrate its first anniversary in March 2016, December 21 is a special day for Anju and Ally. Why?
"Both I and Ally will be wearing our 100th saree on December 21! We will also be celebrating this day as World Saree Day. We want people from around the world to celebrate this day with us," says an elated Anju.
Every photo has a story attached to it so have any of the stories really moved Anju and Ally? "They all do! Every story has a heart. There is something special in every memory that people share. For instance, I remember there was a lady who shared a picture of her wearing a handmade sari which was gifted to her by her nani (grandmother). She said that while giving her the saree, her nani had told her ‘ise kaatna mat kabhi’ (never cut this saree into pieces). The lady wore her nani’s saree and said it ‘weighed in gold’ for her. This is just one of the hundreds of beautiful stories we come across every day," says Anju as she beams with pride.
Taking a cue from the #100SareePact, others like NGO Goonj have also started initiatives inviting people to share 100 stories of change. Anju and Ally are also supporting Goonj in their campaign "your saree for dignity" to provide sarees to those in need.
As pictures of women with sarees continue to flood the internet, it is safe to say that Saree is a timeless fashion and is certainly here to stay!