Bengali New Year is round the corner and ask any Bengali anywhere in the world and everyone will accept that it is indeed the greatest of all Bengali celebrations. Transcending barriers of caste, religion, colour and nationality, it is this one festival which celebrates all things Bengali. What you wear to embrace Pohela Boishakh (1st of Boishakh, the first month of the Bengali New Year) is certainly one of the most important aspects of ushering with style into the new Bengali calendar. For welcoming the Bengali year 1425, I have resorted to the ever-fashionable and traditional Dhakai Jamdani with shades of red and white to mark the festive occasion. Check out my SareeSutra series from 2016 and 2017 and you will know better reasons for my style preference for Pohela Boishakh in 2018, so read on.
One of the finest muslin textiles of Bengal, Jamdani is a Persian word meaning “Flower vase” due to its floral motifs. Weaving of Jamdani has already been declared by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. One of the most time and labor-intensive forms of hand loom weaving, it is one of the finest varieties of Muslin still available and the center of its history and production lies around Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital – hence the name “Dhakai”. Without doubt, due to its traditional heritage and history, wearing this Dhakai Jamdani on the occasion of the Bengali New Year is the befitting ode to all things Bengali.
Among all styles and substances of Dhakai Jamdani, it is the one with the white body and red borders (shada shari, lal par // সাদা শাড়ি লাল পাড়) that is the jewel in the crown. White signifies purity and red embodies fertility – a must have in every Bengali woman’s wardrobe and I was certainly no exception.
Nothing fulfils self-esteem than knowing that you not only own a piece of a “Shada Lal Dhakai Jamdani” but also the fact that it bears your own designs too. Indeed is the case that the Jamdani I wore to mark the Bengali New Year this year was designed by me with all my imagination to bring out the best the fabric and the occasion had to offer. A combination of Bengali royal families'(Zamindars) traditional jewelries and Rajasthani jewelries embedded with polki and mirror have accessorised my look. A handcrafted bucket bag also known as Potli and a pair of golden Kolhapuri Chappal have finished out the look.
Once you design and then you celebrate. Certainly a strong sense of inspiration must be fueling all this charge and rightfully so. I derived the design inspirations from Tagore’s portrayal of freedom-seeking, empowered women and this was evident from the Atpouree style of draping the saree. Cosmopolitan and global, yet firmly rooted in traditions and heritage – the unmatchable combination only found perhaps in the lady leads of Tagore’s literature. All I attempted to portray in this look was a subtle ode to the spirit of Bengali women on Pohela Boishakh.
With some ‘alta’ (bright red liquid dye, also called Rose Bengal) gently bordering the edges of the feet and finger-tips, a line was drawn in the traditional Bengali look. The smokey eyes and the tight curls in the hair simultaneously flirted with the modern fashionista that knows how to pull off a look with the best of both sides of the spectrum.
Finally I swirled and twirled in my Dhakai Jamdani humming gently Tagore’s anthem for heralding the arrival of Bengali New Year, “Esho hey boishakh esho, esho”….
BOISHAKH, you are welcome,
Bestow fresh air, like the breath of a sage, to make an ill spring out.
Clean all drivel that has accumulated over the past year.
Take away all nostalgia, songs that are put behind.
Let all sorrows be swept away.
Erase all disappointments, old age problems,
Let the earth be blazed and sanctified once again.
Dry out the sap that intoxicates.
Bring out your havoc-conch.
Let the magical net of mist be driven far away.
Shubho Noboborsho (Happy Bengali New Year)!
What Was I Wearing?
Saree designed by Tanusree
Lovetobag bucket bag
Earring & Gold Chains from Manik Chand Jewellers, Kolkata, India
Bangles from TribebyAmrapali
Mirror Ring from TribebyAmrapali
Citrine Ring from Zariin Jewellery
Red & White Bangles from Kolkata New Market, India
Toe ring from TribebyAmrapali
Kolhapuri Slippers from Janpath, Delhi, India
Red dye from Kolkata New Market, India