Shah Rukh Khan: Banarasi, Paithani, Chanderi, Kanjiwaram, Kota, Patola, Bandhni, Tanchoi, Maheshwari, Ikkat, Bagu. In India for every occasion, every mood, and if you want, for every day of the year, we have a saree! And if you think about it, a saree is not just a garment for the women of that place. It is, for the women living there, their story, their own identity.
Today on TED Talks India Nayi Soch we have a speaker who got Indian women all over the world to look into their cupboards and pull out sarees that have been lying there for ages. And with those sarees tumbled out stories, and new relationships were formed.
TED Talks India welcomes co-founder of the 100 Saree Pact, Anju Mudgal Kadam Anju Mudgal Kadam.
(Cheers and applause)
When we wear a saree, we don’t just wear a garment, we don a history. It is said that the saree is one of the oldest garments in the world. In the Indus civilization, we see proof of a saree-like garment. So it is this history that we can wear, feel and touch. In every saree, in its palav, its color, its craftsmanship,clings a glimpse of the creator — their thoughts, their traditions, and their history. I am awestruck thinking about the depth hidden in these six yards of fabric.
In March 2015, two of us friends made a pact, an agreement. We decided that 100 times a year, we would take out sarees hidden in our closed cupboards and share stories and memories related to each saree on social media. We called this the 100 Saree Pact.
I started the 100 Saree Pact in honor of my mother. Juggling a host of responsibilities together, my superwoman mother, with her saree draped over her shoulder. So with every saree I started sharing some extraordinary tales from my ordinary life. Sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a roar, I shared my story, my history. With every saree, with every story, I got to know myself. The self that had got lost somewhere over the years. Since all of this was being shared on social media, the 100 Saree Pact quickly became a large movement. People took to the pact, and the deluge of stories began. The saree became the medium. From different corners of the world, we started hearing very personal stories on a public platform. The more the people, the more the stories, the more the genre of stories. From these stories, we felt like our lives are bound to our sarees. Our brilliance, our ups and downs are all tied to the saree. And then we started building a bond with each other’s stories.
I was often asked, “Sarees are old fashioned and you are a modern woman. So why push people into a time that is over?” Women write to me and tell me that after joining the 100 Saree Pact and hearing the experiences of others, they don’t feel so alone. After learning of the struggles of others, they get the strength to face the future. Some even wrote in that it felt so good to wear a saree just for oneself. Some felt a burden ease, some found a new path, some a new vision, a new way of thinking. This saree changed our world. Now tell me: “How can something that gives us a new vision be old fashioned?”
From this pact, one of my beliefs has got strengthened — that somewhere, in every story, every experience, we see a part of our own lives. I had never thought that such a simple thing would have led to so many new relationships. We got a glimpse into so many lives, and now when we meet it’s like meeting old friends. We give each other the respect and freedom to live life on our terms.
Think about it. “If, with the thread of the 100 Saree Pact we can build ties that are so strong, why can’t we do the same in society?” We just lack the ability to recognize that link, that thread that bind our thoughts, opinions and differences — to accept, to listen, understand and come together like the 100 Saree Pact.
SRK: Thank you so much Anju. Thanks for coming here and talking so much about sarees. I have a long association with sarees.
AK: Really? Tell us.
SRK: I am always stuck to the heroine’s sarees.
AK: One story about a saree please.
SRK: I will tell you a small, personal story. My mother passed away when I was 24 She was the one who brought us up. She was working, always on the move, so she never had time. My image, like we have an image of a mother: a photograph, sitting on a bench or a sofa, or then remembering her in a rocking chair. My image of my mother is always of her draping a saree. She would be getting late for work, she was always busy we would be going to school, college, she would be cooking. So my image of my mother is of her in a blouse and petticoat draping a saree while working It is because of her that I can drape a saree very well.
SRK: Genuinely, I can drape a saree very well. And this offer is open to all the ladies!
(Laughter and applause)
AK: Genuinely, I feel that we always talk about Durga. The Shakti ... Durga. So many hands, like a superwomen. Close your eyes, and you will see her in a saree.
SRK: Absolutely, you're right. Correct! And my image of my mother was like that. And I always remember my mother tying a saree and in a saree. Since you told me such lovely things here, told our viewers, too, and since you started so well on social media, I have got a saree for you. I will not drape it for you, don’t worry!
AK: I am already in one.
SRK: I will not wear it. I will give it to you. So that you have a story of this experience, after it comes on TV. AK: I'm so honoured. SRK: When you will talk to people talk about this ... I'd like to present you with a saree. Can I have?
Thank you so much.
AK: I don't know what to say. And when you will wear this saree please think about TED Talks India, because these little little things, like even when you started, it was with a little thing. And it's become such a big movement. So this is a happy moment. When people watch this show on TV in Hindi, let them also realize how, because of you, we are forming a bond with them. Thank you so much.
AK: This saree will be very dear to me.
SRK: Thank you very much. And a big round of applause for Anju. Thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you for being here.