Conscious Bride’s Diaries.
Once upon a time in India, there lived a young girl. Her land was a land of artists and saints, a land replete with fertile soil, rivers overflowing with silver, sparkling water and trees that were wise and comforting. Born to a place with sage Janak like fathers, kind Sita like mothers, righteous Draupadi like sisters and profound Nachiketa like brothers.
As a toddler, she ran bare feet with her silver anklets gently heralding her approach, past the silversmith who sat on the mud floor making jewellery with simple tools, running his fingers over and over the piece to ensure that it did not pinch and that the tiny bells made a tinkling sound.
The girl ran towards the weavers hut, her friend, Kabir who sang melodiously to the beat of the loom. ‘Dass Kabir jatan sand odhi, jas ki tas rukh dini chadariya…’The deep philosophy of those words she would understand later, much later but as of now she wants to see the birds that are to take shape on the loom today, parrots, mynah, peacocks… She will wear it on Diwali, she thought as she gazed lovingly on the fabric. Her favorite colour pink was made by the dyer with such precision that it matched the flush of her cheeks after a run around her village. The crushed roses that gave that colour also emanated a fragrance that pervaded her dreams transporting her to a magical grove and fairies. The dyer had laughingly sprinkled some colour to get her out of her reverie, so gentle on her skin…
On her way back home she remembered to stop at the potter, her doll had broken and he was going to make her better. Mother had also wanted some teacups. She sat on haunches as the potter kneaded singing ‘maati kahe kumhar se, tu kya rundhe mohe…ek din aisa aayega, mai rundhungi tohe …’ He packed her mother’s tea cups in dried leaves that mother would later dig into the soil to make it fertile. He gently handed her the doll, which was looking even more beautiful now and gently nudged another toy in her surprised hands…a tiny bed, a tiny sheet, with the doll’s name written on it for her to convalesce. Her eyes were shining with pride as she skipped back home…
Time passed, landscape changed, the girl grew up and found herself in a town full of noise, smoke, artificiality and pettiness. She was to marry soon and went on the lookout for her marriage robes. Shop after shop, she searched for her garment with birds and horses, her favorite colour that did not smell of chemicals and her jewellery that was pretty as it was singular. The shopkeeper showed her garment after garment, stifled with plastic sequins, stones, ugly, fat embroidery – cacophony – for those garments had nothing to say, no fable to relate and as if desperate to hide their cheapness in that busy noise.
As she absentmindedly ran her fingers through the cheap, mosquito net like fabric encrusted with thick stones, the shopkeeper mistook it as admiration for it and quickly took out a plastic bag as a definite gesture to close a sale.
Oh no no! Thought the girl as she stood up, rummaging through her intricately worked on ‘kantha’ bag for the ‘Wedding Trousseau Listings’ and the spectacle pouch made by the fashionable Rabari women. Where is she to look?
Where are those weavers whose garments would make her breathe, made with threads gently hand made and would give her a cherished possession? Where are those dyers who don’t pollute her land with toxins? Where are the jewelers who make pieces that boast of an intricate, honed craft? Where are those embroiderers who hand embroider beings and make a canvas of dreams?
She walked back home, dragging her feet with sadness of defeat lowering her lids…
— with Dayana Erappa, Purvi Doshi and Vinit Bhatt.
In the loud Indian modern wedding, the bride seems to be competing with herself to wear the most garish, flouncy outfits on all occasions leading upto marriage.
Upon enquiry on this crazy phenomenon, I have been told that brides wear eye blinding garments to out do the attendees who are deluded enough to think that perhaps it is their wedding and that they have to outdo the current bride! The bride’s relatives keep cajoling her to dress up for every event mindful of the fact that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime occasion and that no ornamentation should be spared! However, I argue that attendees of the wedding belie this thought by their over the top dressing and also, I ask, would the bride not stand out by being dressed in true, one-of- a-kind luxury while surrounded in repetitive bling? I cannot imagine this hilarious pressure on the bride to outdo the others in the flashy factor.
Here, fortunately, Dayana wears a sari painstakingly woven in a combination of techniques like jamdani+ikkat+Paithani and is replicated from a 19th century sari.
Handwoven in pure zari, we can admire interlocking of Paithani and ikkat of Hyderabad with Benares brocade. It is teemed with antique heirloom traditional Jewellery like the sun and moon as hair ornaments with a handcrafted Kada – and the look spells subtle opulence at every level. On an occasion like a ‘mehandi’, to come across this purity is refreshing.
Saree: Vedaa Contemporary Weaves
Talent: Dayana Erappa
Photography: Vinit Bhatt
Hair and Makeup: Megha Kothari
The Marriage cacophony.
It was at my young cousin’s wedding that the ludicrous farce of the modern Indian wedding hit me. Upon entering the residence of my relative, many days ahead of the wedding to ask if I could be of any assistance, the watchman indicated 4th floor without even looking up from his Candy Crush Saga. I could only imagine that the footfall to the ‘marriage waala ghar’ had increased.
I found the door ajar with a million shoes mounted outside that were enough to put any decent ‘maata kaa jagraata’ to shame. As a person who is not fully versed with the concept of date, time etc., I panicked thinking that I may not be aware of some ceremony and a quick check on the blessed What’sapp allayed my fears. “It’s not even remotely close to the wedding date yet…” I thought as I practiced a smile reserved for relatives.
The dog of the house that was hiding under the sofa clutched my leg for his dear life. I saw my uncle deeply immersed in a conversation with an alien looking person in a fedora hat…”so the platform on which the bride and groom would stand is a hydraulically rotating one so that everyone can get a clear view,” he said with a smile that put Arnab Goswami’s smirk to mind, “ also there will be drones to photograph and shower rose petals on the guests…” I giggled at the thought of my cousin and her fresh husband going “wheeeeeeee…” on the rotating platform and some drunken relatives falling off it… While exasperated father of the bride and the older uncle (who seemed to have been given some commission by this guy going by Uncle’s enthusiastic agreement on everything) were busy working out the math on the crazy stunts, the sofa was occupied by a caterer (busy exciting himself by tickling the innards of his ear with a toothpick), a flower person (again trying to break the ever menacing candy in the Candy Crush saga), a wedding planner was busy talking to another client on the phone and discussing how the horse reserved for the day was suffering from a bad bout of loosies as the ladies in the previous event had overfed it and that he was trying to find a replacement in the required colour… I quickly gave up the idea of saying hello to my uncle and moved on looking for my aunt.
Strangers surrounded her too. A young enthusiastic girl was teaching her some weird dance steps, ”Now aunty, gyrate your hips again at the count of four then move your chest so…” she demonstrated and my poor aunt who has gently packed on some pounds due to her academician’s life, struggled to follow her lead. The senior aunt gave me a hug while I scrabbled at not looking confounded at the goings on, “Preparations, beta, ”she said and I thought, “for what? India got talent?”
By the window was the hair stylist, busy eating ‘faafda’ and looking into the make up person’s phone as she updated her Facebook status. The cook was standing at the door peeping, gazing at my sweating, dancing aunt with such happiness that my suspicion of his infatuation for my aunt was confirmed. The tailor was waiting for trial of the blouses, his bag over stuffed with glittering, shining stuff.
The house that has always held a certain peace and tranquillity thanks to intellectual parents and studious children, was transformed to the set of a cacophonous Hindi soap opera. Shopping bags covered the floor, chocolates and mithai boxes were littered everywhere. I meandered my way to the cousin’s room, with the shivering dog still clutching on to my ankles. She was busy listening to a PYT who was making a strong case for pre-wedding skin care, message, warm pebbles, oils, exfoliation, detoxification etc. while brochures and menus were being waved in her face. “Let me look through it and respond,” my cousin said after which we were subjected to an apocalyptic style warning that if she does not make up her mind soon she will lose a once in a lifetime opportunity, a manna from heaven, a sure shot lottery, a way out of her oily..parched…spotted…patchy skin to morph into a glowing, baby like one only and only if she signs on the services on an urgent basis…
The chafed bride-to-be turned around and shared, ”All I want is to spend these days with family, reading my books, playing with my dog in my room…” I could see a far away look in her eyes. These precious moments of her single life could have been spent in a serene manner while I see her sadly drowning in a quagmire of a crazy circus like mayhem.
Talent: Dayana Erappa
Photography: Vinit Bhatt
Photo edit: Jatin Lulla
Hair and make-up: Megha Kothari