Towards the end of last year, I did a series of ruminations on the chapter titles of a book. While the book remained very forgetful, the headers provided a springboard for some meandering. One of the headers was ‘tears’, the kind we cry. It led to a spontaneous poem and here it is, pulled up from the Instagram archives. I hope you enjoy it. The saree that fit the thought was this sungudi, filled with a million circles, tears or light bubbles, you decide.๐Ÿ™‚

We don’t need anyone to tell us the healing power of tears.

At some point of time or the other, we’ve squeezed a few drops from the depths of despair.

Maybe we wept copious amounts over hearts that were shattered to dust.

Perhaps, we felt them wash away sadness for a while before a renewed attack.

We’ve also felt them in the lumps in our throats that threatened to swallow us whole.

We’ve screamed tears of physical agony or collected silent tears in our bones.

We’ve cowered in fear, holding back a flood of tears.

Sometimes we drown in unshed ones.

And at times, we shed tears of exquisite joy and gratitude.

We survive. A few do not.

But, beyond the veil of tears, there is brilliant sunshine. You just have to believe.


I first heard of ghadi modane from Rupali, a saree enthusiast helplessly in love with the six yards. She mentioned an old Konkan tradition where a new saree was worn by a woman in the family or extended family before being used by oneself. Loosely translated, it means to open the folds of a new garment. Anyways, soon after, I happened to mention this to a dear friend in my neighbourhood. It jogged her memory and since I had a new saree that sat guiltily in my cupboard, I gave it to her. And just like that an old tradition bound within familial ties spilled into a virtual world.

As with most traditions, this would have been a way to strengthen and nurture bonds of sisterhood. And you can’t argue with the fact that showing off a new saree is a delightful experience. It would have been the Instagram equivalent of those times.

Another reason could be good old economics. Many decades ago before we became a wildly consumerist populace, new clothes were probably bought a couple of times a year for festivals and birthdays or then special occasions like a wedding or betrothal. Sharing a new saree meant a change from a limited set and some happiness in an otherwise hard existence. Of course, this is complete conjecture and there may not have been this aspect at all.

Another reason could have been sharing out of respect or affection. It is one of the garments that has always been a storehouse of memories quite like how festivals and natural occurrences mark the passage of time for the elders.

As I share with more people about this, I’ve been discovering a similar practice across a wider geography. Anyways, circa 2017 a new version of an old custom started to emerge, largely due to a sense of community amongst saree lovers on Instagram. Since family members may or may not dig sarees, why not widen the circle of love with those who love the six yards.

I spoke to a few ladies who opened the folds of my sarees and they were unanimous in the pleasure they felt. I’ve also been the recipient of many gorgeous sarees and have been grateful for the love and consideration. It is a slightly mad almost girlish excitement which the menfolk don’t quite get, especially the fact that these sarees are whizzing all over the place!

The recent saree I wore, a gorgeous blue handwoven irkal was handed to me by a fellow Instagrammer’s husband who visited my home! Strange are the ways of this ether world that connect absolute strangers and make them saree sisters.

Some of the ghadi modane sarees

I’m not an expert and have taken the liberty to imagine about the tradition. In case you have any additions or would like to correct something, please feel free to do so in comments. I would be happy to ammend the post.

edit: A tamil phrase, pirichchu kattikko means pretty much the same, open the folds and wear is something Lakshmi mentioned.

A little yellow

Mommy’s vintage chiffon out for a spin. This one is four decades old, give or take a few years and one I recently inherited. While the flimsy fabric is not one of my usual preferences, I love the way it looks on others. In my head, I have this image of a saree around a pole if I wear such sarees but you can’t deny how dreamy it can be.

This was one of two in similar shades, the other one retained its plain looks. One of mom’s friends from her early Bombay (it was still Bombay then๐Ÿ˜) days got this embroidered for her. I guess it must have been done at Gandhi Market, quite the haunt of young women then.

She came to the city as a young 18 year old, accompanied by her brother and went on to lead an independent life far away from a little village in the faraway hills near Idukki. Her beginnings were humble and she is a self made woman.

As a school child, she was an eager student and walked many miles everyday after finishing her chores around the house. Geography with its lessons about different countries fascinated her no end and she had a burning desire to see the world. Back then, it must have seemed pretty impossible for a little girl from a remote hamlet to roam the big, wide world but she went on to visit many countries and has ticked off more places than us kids have.

While this saree has not travelled as much as she has, it has journeyed with memories, mostly old ones. It remembers an ambitious young woman who chased her dreams and fought her demons without ever staying down for too long. It has watched her take her time getting dressed to dazzle. I wonder how my father might have been mesmerized by her even as she walked with him. They had a love marriage and I wish mom would reveal a little more of their romance. It’s a different thrill to hear about parents as young people, they’ve always just been parents.

Ok, I’ve rambled on and how! Here is the mellow yellow embroidered with bright yellow flowers spiralling through her pleats.