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.
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.