The sari- a length of unstitched fabric typically 5.5 m long and 1.25 m wide-has been draped in varied styles by women in different parts of India. Notwithstanding centuries of foreign rule, the winds of social change and the increasing presence of Western garments, Indian women continue to drape saris for everyday wear and for special occasions, at home and at work.
Saris may be plain or designed with motifs and patterns which may be simple or elaborate. These motifs and patterns are created by different textile techniques- weaving, embroidery, printing, resist-dyeing and painting with variations each of these techniques. The result is a wonderful spectrum of handmade saris that are a delight to see and wear. And many women regard the saris they wear and the style they drape them in as an extension of their personality.
With wear and time, it is perhaps natural that saris tend to give way in certain places while much of the textile retains its strength. Many wearers and owners keen to retain them in some form for their beauty and memories they hold of the person who once bought and wore them. And these sentiments have seen Joy Bimal Roy, textile lover and art aficionado, to creatively upcycle old saris thus giving them a new expression and lease of live.
Joy’s initiative draws from the loss of his sister Yashodhara, art and textile lover, who had a collection of exquisite saris much admired by many. After she passed away on 1st January 2020, Joy and his sister Aparajita gifted many of the saris to family and friends who had appreciated them.
When there were only a few left, Joy thought of upcycling them – cutting borders, the body and pallav of old saris that were intact and then seeing how they could be composed to create a unique sari.
He carefully selected the different sections of saris to complement each other, in colour, texture and ethos, and had them neatly stitched so the new creation would be an attractive lovely harmonious coming together of different textiles. The project was aptly called A Touch of Joy.
As these creations garnered an appreciative response, ARTISANS' thought of taking upcyling of old saris as a project working with old saris donated by family, friends and well-wishers to the Sari Bank, which accepts handmade cotton and silk saris.
Wanting to spread the happiness, Joy decided to bequeath the amount received by the sale of these saris to charity. As the siblings had lost their parents to cancer, he decided that the proceeds from the sale of the saris be sent to Shanti Avedna Sadan, a hospice for cancer patients in Bandra, Mumbai.
The heartening cycle of the life of these saris means that old saris that once gave immense joy to their original wearers, now bring joy and fulfilment to those who donate them for the cause, to Joy when he upcycles them, to textile lovers who purchase and wear these unique creations, and to patients who benefit from the charity.
For textile lovers interested in the initiative, A Touch of Joy’s spring collection, of upcycled saris and potlis, is on display and available for purchase at ARTISANS online.
AUTHOR: BRINDA GILL