Manipuri saris and Durga Puja
Puja invokes a lot of memories in us — distant beats of the dhak, the low hum of the conch shell, ringing of the mandap bells, hibiscus and the marigolds; autumn sky with white clouds floating by; and us swaying through the white kash phool fields in a dreamy trance.
It is the picture-perfect setting for puja romance.
But what we are most mesmerised by is how the ladies slip into their puja mode; casual yet highly stylised. With that red big tika or teep smeared by the thumb on the forehead, the vermillion dust on her hair parting, the milk-white shakha and the red pola in her hands, mixed and matched with the golap balas or heavy gold bangles designed like a rosehip. These are paired perfectly with the white sari with a red border. The traditional gold jhumka or danglers in an intricate design, the long strands of mop chain in motor dana design shaped like peas; everything has an exact place on making her glow with the love she has for her goddess Durga.
Fashion is something that anyone can buy, but the style has to come from within, it's how you fit into your skin.
Come Durga puja, even the simplest lady glows in her own style, even with a tucked red hibiscus on the khopa or casual hair bun. And as if reciprocating with her joy, nature also decks up in her own style. Because with puja, the fire-dance and the alponas — the merry courting of the sharat clouds and the kash phool or Kans grass as it is called in English, ushers the goddess Durga. The goddess has chosen this romantic season to come down to earth from her heavenly abode, filling our hearts with hope, romance, and magic.
We put our best attire on during the festival of Durga Puja. This year, maybe the traditional Manipuri saris in bright bold colours can be our choice for puja wear.
The magical Manipuri saris
Speaking of Manipuri saris, we met Suranjana Singha from the scenic regions of Sreemangal, Sylhet. As part of the Bishnupriya Manipuri people's community, Singha grew up watching the ladies in her family weave their own clothes. "I learnt to make my own clothes at an early age as well," said the designer turned entrepreneur.
Today, Singha employs around 10 women from the tea estates of Sreemangal, with 20 more training to become self-reliant by their own determinations.
"I employ close relatives of the tea labourers and train them to become artisans in Manipuri weaves. In this way, not only are our heritage weaves restored, but a destitute community also gets the necessary financial assistance to save themselves from the sheer helplessness of poverty," said Singha.
Beginning humbly with a single taant inside her home in March 2022, Singha seems to have stepped on the accelerator for a cause. Today, with five more taants installed inside her home, she dreams of doing wonderful things with the Manipuri weave.
"A single sari can take from 10 to 15 days at most depending on the aptitude of the artisan. When my girls are completely trained, it will take less time," said a hopeful Singha.
Our long-time readers know that every year, we support a particular deshi weave to promote the finesse of our country's craftsmanship. Similarly, this year, during Puja, our inclination has been towards Manipuri saris, because the colours and the designs can truly reciprocate the festive vibe of the atmosphere.
Since the occasion is about the celebration of the divine. Let us be ready to welcome the goddess Durga in our best attire.
May she bid adieu pleased.
Makeup: Sumon Rahat
Styling: Sonia Yeasmin Isha
Special Mention: Avishek Sinha, CEO, Khazana
Facebook Group: Ningol /নিঙল
Suranjana Singha for Manipuri Saris: 01737276666