Six yards of stories

Posted: 16.04.15

Everyone loves sarees. The colourful six yard long garment is worn in almost all the states in India in different styles and designs. However, with the increasing pace of modern life, sarees have lost popularity over the years and now are mainly worn by women for festivals, weddings and other special occasions. In its place, South Asian women have turned to more practical clothes to wear everyday, like jeans and dresses.

Two friends from Bangalore decided to change this. Ally Mattham and Anju Kadam were chatting about the precious sarees piled up in their wardrobes that they don’t get to wear often enough. A conversation between the two about yearning to wear sarees exploded into a virtual movement across India.

They started a pact between themselves and their friends to wear sarees for 100 days before the end of the year. They then invited friends of friends to join in. All they had to do was post a picture of themselves wearing a saree with a little description underneath. The pictures shared on social media with #100sareepact went viral with more and more women joining the movement to wear sarees twice a week.

Ally explained that the pact is not about how much the saree costs or how many different ones you have; it is about enjoying the process of wearing a saree and feeling good in it. It is a celebration of style and an excuse to wear traditional clothing more often. Ally reassured women across India that this is not a political statement or campaign, but just a way of bringing back sarees by adding an element of fun into wearing them.

However, the main aim of the pact is not just about wearing it. Ally and Anju are both storytellers and are encouraging women to not just take pictures, but to tell their story. It is about embracing Indian culture, traditional clothing and the stories that go along with the outfit that someone is wearing. It is about sharing feelings and emotions.

Both women grew up in traditional homes in India where their mothers and female family members wore sarees everyday in all the work that they did. A garment that used to be worn everyday by Indian women is now used as formal clothing for special occasions.

Numerous women across India and from all over the world have been getting involved in this pact by sending in pictures from old albums to share memories of them and their loved ones in a saree. A search on any social media network of #100sareepact will reveal countless pictures of women in their bright and beautiful sarees, with a description of their story in the attire.

Ally and Anju are encouraging everyone to get involved. Whether you are male, female, a wearer of sarees or just an admirer, the clothing is part of your essence too. “Tell stories of relating to someone in your life who wears a saree, or something that you remember related to the garment. It could be about the tale behind the purpose, a story of somewhere you wore the sari, or even just how you felt wearing or seeing someone else wear it. Everyone has a story to share and the saree is the medium for you to tell stories. We want people to reach into their cupboards, and their memories.”

Some women are wearing crop tops or bold printed shirts instead of a blouse for a contemporary and new look by adding a modern twist to the traditional saree. Young girls are also pairing a saree with jeans to emphasise their waistline. Another new change to the conventional attire is to add sneakers or boots with a lightweight saree for a more edgy look.

The sari is now a medium of communication. The two friends plan to make a documentary after the year is up from these stories and pictures on a website that is currently being constructed. They are encouraging people to email them their images and stories.

For compilation of stories and pictures see
Email your saree images and stories to

Gayatri Pillai

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