KHADI SARIS: from Self-Employment to Skills
Photos by Mihir Bhatt
Illustrated by Somnath Bhatt
Saris of Ela Bhatt
Saris, especially Khadi meaning hand-made and hand-woven cotton cloth saris are often looked at as burdensome and mundane garment nowadays. Yet, Khadi is no ordinary cloth it was a symbol of India’s journey to independence. Khadi, once the face of Indian self-reliance and self-employment movement, is almost wiped out today by the machine made and synthetic cloth. Considered ‘not just a cloth but, a socio-economic movement’ Khadi, currently is mostly worn by pseudo-politicians and members of Gandhian institutions,certain school children as a uniform,members of civil society organizations and folks their 70s like my grandmother or even older.
Like the Gandhian values Khadi is too valuable to be discarded yet, too idyllic to swallow down and digest. The aim of this exhibition is to rebuke the whole idea of Khadi being a dull, crude and dated fabric worn by the elderly. In fact the saris in my grandmother’s stack are none of the above, they are as ebullient as nine enchanting colors-navrang, as vibrant as the 29 states and 6 union territories of India and throbbing-visibly or invisibly-with panache and ingenuity much like the Indian mind.