BENGALI AT A WEDDING

If you have been following my blog since the beginning you would know that I am a Bengali, hence being obsessed about wearing sarees for any traditional or festive occasion runs in my veins, by default.

Nevertheless, I am one who adores the nine yards. I love a good traditional handcrafted saree. Mostly because I empathise with sustainability, handwork and the special skills that our artisans posses, who keep working generations after generations in preserving a craft and heritage. I feel obligated in some ways to be able to help in keeping this legacy alive.

Hence, I always try to go with sarees as my first option for any festive or traditional moment instead of splurging on designer labels that have zero contribution towards sustainability, culture or heritage. I am so selective about the fabrics and embroidery, I had rather know that my investment is not only in a piece of fabric or handwork but it also goes a long way in contributing to a family who works hard day and night, stitch by stitch.

THE MAHESHWARI SAREE

The handcrafts and weaves of India are elaborate. That is probably why this country has such a rich variety of sarees and handlooms to choose from. This saree is from a boutique in North Bengal, Siliguri. Indigenous sarees and traditional handcrafts are found at the boutique.

The Maheshwari Saree comes from Maheshwar, a city in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh. An ancient town on the banks of the Narmada, was originally the capital of the Malwas during the Maratha Holkar reign till 1818 and enjoyed a considerably elevated status in terms of royal interests. It was this encouragement by the royal family that the Maheshwari saree came into existence.

Legend has it that Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar employed a special team of craftsmen from Surat and Malwa to design an exclusive nine yard saree that could be gifted to her relatives and guests who visited the palace. With the first saree conceptualised and designed by the Highness herself, Maheshwari sarees went on to become a huge hit in the royal and aristocratic circle.

BENARASI CHANDERI SAREE

The town of Chanderi in Ashok Nagar District of Madhya Pradesh is known for its historical importance as well as the world famous hand woven Chanderi sarees. Records show that hand looms wove Chanderi sarees for royalty between the 12th and the 13th centuries.

While some references to the Vedic period in Indian mythology suggest that Chanderi fabric was introduced by Lord Krishna’s cousin Shishupal, one can find its mention in Maasir-i-Alamgir (1658-1707), wherein it is stated that Aurangzeb ordered the use of a cloth embroidered with gold and silver for making khilat (a ceremonial robe or other gift given to someone by a superior as a mark of honour).

The material was very expensive. The beauty of this fabric was its softness, transparency, and fringes embellished with heavy gold thread embroidery. According to the records of a Jesuit priest, who visited Marwar between 1740 and 1761, Chanderi fabric enjoyed royal patronage and was also exported overseas. A British visitor, RC Sterndal noted that Chanderi was the favoured fabric of Indian royal women because of its soft, light texture and transparency.

(Source: CHANDERI SAREES: A LOOK AT THE HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF THESE ROYAL WEAVES)

Though these various accounts make it hard to put a date on the birth of Chanderi sarees, it’s clear that the fabric has always had the patronage of the ruling class of the country because of its unique sheer texture and intricate embroidery with gold and silver.

As a fashion blogger and MBA in Luxury Brand Management graduate, my initiative also strongly supports the handcraft of Indian weaves and sustainability of our traditions and heritage.

It starts from home.

XOXO,

Adhisa

ISTANBUL-OF THE PAST&PRESENT

I have been in this city since Monday now, after 24 hours of travel from Pune, and I am so glad to have completely fallen in love with this country, of whatever little I have seen in these two days. The weather, the people, the whole culture, Istanbul seems to be the perfect marriage of its past and present, of the old and the new. The city of Istanbul is important to geography because it has a long history that spans the rise and fall of the world’s most famous empires. Built by emperors and buried by emperors too many times, the city stands on the ruins of its past, glorifying the history of the present. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, located on the Bosporus Strait it covers the entire area of the Golden Horn – a natural harbor. Because of its size, Istanbul extends into both Europe and Asia. The city is the world’s only metropolis to extend into more than one continent.

Due to its participation in these empires, Istanbul has also undergone various name changes throughout its lengthy history.

HISTORY OF ISTANBUL IN BRIEF

BYZANTIUM ERA – THE ROMAN EMPIRE (330-395 CE)-THE BYZANTINE (EASTERN ROMAN) EMPIRE (395-1204 AND 1261-1453 CE)-THE LATIN EMPIRE (1204-1261)-THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE (1453-1922)-THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY (1923-TODAY)

Also known as the European Capital of Culture because of its melting pot of populace and various religions as well as culture, Istanbul maintains that fine distinguishing line that let’s a traveller understand the many mysteries and tales that this city hides. Since my hotel is located at the heart of European side of Istanbul, at Gülhane Park, I decided to take a trip to the very very famous Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

After having a brilliant breakfast, I strolled out, taking in the beautiful breeze and the good looking men. After about 600meters, I reached my first destination.

HAGIA SOPHIA

One of the most mysterious and extremely written about monuments in the city’s history, the Hagia Sophia survived earthquakes, religious power struggles, and has been a church (basilica), a mosque and is now a museum. It is known as the Ayasofya in Turkish, and was dedicated to the Wisdom (Sophia) of God. There were once two more churches that were regarded as “Churches of Divine Wisdom” but the Hagia Sophia is the last that remains.

From the time of its construction between 532 and 537 AD, on the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, through to 1453 AD, the Hagia Sophia served as a cathedral for the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, Constantinople, as Istanbul was once called, was conquered by the Ottoman Turks at this time, and the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by order of Sultan Mehmed II. Relics such as the shroud of Mary, nails from the true cross and the tombstone of Jesus were some of its treasures, until the city was ransacked during the Fourth crusade. It remained in use as a mosque until as recently as 1931, when it was closed down for four years to be reopened as a museum in 1935 by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

When I entered the monument, I was not only transported to a different time, but I could also decipher the existence of two most primary religion. While the Islamic sanctions remains, right above the structure is Virgin Mary, holding baby Jesus, protected by Archangels Gabriel and Michael. Also, guarding above the door are two angels, guardians of the heaven. As one enters, one sees the ceiling that was built at a height so high that it was supposedly a doorway to heaven.  Apart that, there are a couple of tombstones that one can see around the monuments, and one of the largest baptism area that Istanbul had in those days. As Hagia Sophia maintains the balance between the two religious powers, I couldn’t help but wonder how difficult was it for humanity to co-exist so peacefully?

THE BLUE MOSQUE / SULTANAHMET MOSQUE

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque is also known as Sultanahmet Mosque, named after Sultan Ahmet I who wished to build an Islamic place of worship that would compete with the Hagia Sophia. The two places of worship now stand side by side for visitors to judge which is the more extraordinary of the architectural marvels. Mosques traditionally have one, two or four minarets. What makes the Blue Mosque unique as it boasts six minarets. Although the main west entrance is far grander than the north entrance, non-worshippers are asked to use the north entrance, like I was, to keep the mosque’s sacredness intact. The Blue Mosque’s interior is lit with two hundred and sixty windows which were once filled with stained glass of the seventeenth century. Unfortunately they have been lost and replaced with replicas far more inferior. The mosque’s interior has 20,000 blue tiles that line its high ceiling. The oldest of these tiles feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns that make them fine examples of sixteenth century Iznik design.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Shot on Iphone7plus

WILDBERRYCHILDxSHUBHASHINIxWABI-SABI

It was a weekday and I clearly remember I was busy under piles of document work while being out with dad, that is when my good friend Tara gave me a call asking me if I wanted to be a part of an exhibition happening at the Conrad. Benefits of being there would be lots of jewellery and fashion. Now, hey, I was in a oversized shirt and messy bun but boy who cares about that when fashion and accessories is more than often what a girl like me lives for, also shoes. In an hour I had rushed back home, taken a good long shower, set my hair, put on a halter maxi dress, some tall shoes and voila! I was ready to head out.

As I drove down, I was so excited to see how the Conrad Couture Exhibition was going to be like. Once having reached, I found my way to the stalls of Shubhashini Ornamnetals and Wabi-Sabi. Established by jewellery designer Akassh k Aggarwal, the label Shubhashini Ornamentals boasted of some amazing collections of temple style bohemian jewellery and statement pieces that one had to be bold enough to carry off.

The label Wabi-Sabi on the other hand by Neeru Wadhwa from Hyderabad was a perfect blend of sustainable fashion and comfort fabric with indo-fusion style and flowing silhouettes complete with basic tie and dye prints. From two-tiered gowns to skirt-blouse combination and sarees, I was spoilt for choice. I also think apart from the fashion, more often than not, I feel more activated when I meet people who are passionate about what they do because that, believe it or not, makes me look radiant! It is like the vibe surrounds me and I cannot help but soak it in.

After getting acquainted and going through the collections, I loved their styles and enthusiasm. Akassh and Neeru were such warm and caring people and I was immediately at ease , picking out my clothing styles and deciding to create a few looks.

The Magenta Glory and Statement pieces

I absolutely loved the softness and comfort of the gown with the flare at the hem, as I did a balancing act with Akassh’s statement neck piece, bangle and a ring. How gorgeous does the collection look?

The Tie and Dye embracing Turquoise

Ever thought that a saree could be extremely casual and comfortable, styled with statement pieces and could be a transient from your day to night look. Well, then this is something to take an inspiration from.

The Skirt Blouse Duo with Stone pieces

My favourite look. Throw in a colourful shrug to add layering and break the monochrome tie and dye print. Akassh styled me with some of his best pieces and they are absolutely to die for!

With Akassh K Aggarwal, Neeru Wadhwa.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Photography – Manjari Singh

Assistance – Sharmeishtha Singh

Outfits – Wabi-Sabi (Neeru Wadhwa)

Jewellery – Shubhashini Ornamentals

Location – Conrad, Pune

SARI DON’T BE SORRY

I have always been a very traditionally rooted person. Being brought up in a very traditional and cultural Bengali family, saris have always been my first love. Even if I pride myself at the flexibility with which I can endorse a short dress to a nine yard sari, these lay down of handpicked handloom and silk saris come not only with me showing you how to be casual and comfortable in a saree, but also how there can be so many quirky ways of wearing one if you are a non-conformist. Saris are more than a garment, they come with so much of history and generations of hard work that has made them a national cultural identity for a reason. I hope you enjoy these styles and looks and if you want to get your hands on some of these, the details are mentioned at the footer.

1- Gadwal Sari

Gadwal sari is a handcrafted woven sari style in Gadwal of Jogulamba Gadwal district in the Indian state of Telangana. They are most notable for the Zari on the saris for its beautiful exotic designs.Gadwal sarees were a big hit, right from the beginning. Hence, some weavers from Gadwal were sent to Benaras by the king to learn the art of weaving this particular style. The outcome was hand woven variety of Gadwal saris that became immensely popular. The sari consists of cotton body with silk pallu and the golden zari work along the lengths of the borders gives it an exquisite touch.  Gadwal Handloom Centre, established in 1946 by the late Ratan Babu Rao, was mainly responsible for the widespread knowledge and detail regarding the Gadwal Sari.

2- The Kantha Sari

Kantha is one of the oldest forms of embroidery that originated in India. Its origins can be traced back to the ancient pre Vedic ages, however, Kantha embroidery as we know it today was found in Krishnadas Kaviraj’s 500 year old book, Chaitanya Charitamrita. Motifs found in early Kantha embroidery include many symbols that were derived from ancient art. Rural housewives in West Bengal played a significant part in the evolution of Kantha embroidery. It was customary for these women to make use of Kantha’s widely used running stitch and embroidery techniques. For centuries, the techniques of the hereditary craft were, and still are, passed down from mother to daughter. Though it continued to be practised amongst rural women, recognition of the craft faded over time, until it was revived on a global scale in the 1940s by the renowned Kala Bhavana Institute of Fine Arts, which part of the Viswa-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. It was revived yet again by Shamlu Dudeja in the 1980s when she founded Self Help Enterprise (SHE) that helped empower women and their livelihood through Kantha embroidery.

3- The Chiffon and Silk Sari

Chiffon, from the French word for a cloth or rag, is a lightweight, balanced plain-woven sheer fabric woven of alternate S- and Z-twist crepe yarns. The twist in the crepe yarns puckers the fabric slightly in both directions after weaving, giving it some stretch and a slightly rough feel.Early chiffon was made purely from silk. In 1938, however, a nylon version of chiffon was invented, and in 1958 polyester chiffon was invented and became immensely popular due to its resilience and low cost. Under a magnifying glass chiffon resembles a fine net or mesh which gives it some transparency. As a precaution, craftsmen work slowly and steadily with this fabric. If the fabric is stretched during the sewing process, it may bunch together and ruin the whole stitch. The stitching must be very clean and fine to improve the finished appearance.

4- The Dhakai Jamdani Sari

Jamdani, a word that came from Persian language, is a combination of the words ‘Jam’ and ‘Dani’ meaning “flower” and “Jar” respectively, that means- Jar of Flowers. The name is suggestive of the beautiful floral motifs that adorn these gorgeous sarees. Jamdani weaving is the Cutting Edge symbol of Bangladesh’s rich cultural heritage.The Bengali version of the name, Dhakai, comes from the place of its origin  — Dhaka in Bangladesh. Interestingly, the earliest mention of Jamdani sarees can be found in Chanakya’s Arthashastra, dating back to the 3rd century BC. The book refers to it as some fine cloth from “Bangla” and “Pundra” region.  Significant mentions of Jamdani can also be found in the book of Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, besides the accounts of Arab, Chinese and Italian travellers and traders. In the first half of the 19th century, James Taylor described the flowered Jamdani. Though Jamdani has enjoyed immense popularity right from the beginning, the art form bloomed during the Mughal period. However, colonisation by the British saw a decline in the production of this fabric. Post the partition, many weavers migrated to present day West Bengal, and that marked the beginning of the art form in India.

5- The Dhakai Muslin and Silk

Similar to its Dhakai sari roots and origin, the Dhakai Muslin in Blue and the magenta silk sari were two of my most favourite as well. Because of the quintessential Indian traditional vibe i wanted to lend to the rest of the styles I decided to be a bit more dramatic and give the saris a skirt twist and drape it with a shirt and blouse, for all the bold and gorgeous women out there who would like to style a sari more than just in the dhoti way or the traditional way. Pair it up with your favourite separates by adding volume as a skirt or by pairing it up with a shirt-blouse for a morning wedding where cocktails at the resort are on the menu!

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Saris – Supriya Dasgupta Boutique – 98230 11050/ 93253 14402

Sari draping – Anindita Guha

Assistant Styling –  Vaishali Pandey

Photography – Manjari Singh , Mehuljeet Singh

Location – Ekta California