There was a time while growing up, when Durga Pujo would mean shopping for new clothes and shoes — one for each day of the Pujo. The excitement was palpable and I distinctly remember how I used to save the best clothes for the ‘best’ days of the Pujo — Astami / Navami! Oh! And there were times when I would wonder which outfit should be given the preference over the other!
Now, over the years, I have seen a distinct change in shopping trends. Perhaps this change is also in people’s mindset, with shops offering discounts throughout the year, shopping happens not just for the days of Pujo, but throughout the year. I don’t blame them really! Who would not want to buy on sale, except that you never really get the current latest collections on sale. But do we care?! That is the question. And this concept of fashion trends is a huge misnomer; especially in India, where our individual trends sometimes overshadows the norms (and thank God for that, if everyone started wearing the same trendsetting clothes, we would end up looking like clones of one another).
Coming to trends and fashion forecasts, to me Pujo has always been about traditionalwear. I would ideally want to wear a saree if I could on each day of Pujo. But Pujo days lately have always coincided with me and my team in the studio gearing up for the Fashion Week in Delhi and therefore, mind/body and soul are occupied with work and strict deadlines. I remember a couple of seasons ago, my Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week show for Spring/Summer had fallen on Shosthi! It was quite a dampener to think that I would have to work during Pujo but as they said ‘Work is God’ then so be it!
This year too is no exception. I have been invited to be a part of the opening show at Amazon India Fashion Week, in a special project called ‘Road to Chanderi’ where I am going to be working with the fabric of royalty: Chanderi. One of the oldest weaving clusters in India, based out of Chanderi in Madya Pradesh, this fabric was originally woven in a silk warp with a cotton weft, thereby making it sheer and translucent.
Coming back to Pujo, my para Pujo has always been Maddox Square. Any Bengali especially our generation, growing up in the 90s, would know what Pujo in Maddox square means. It is the Mecca of all Pujos especially in south Kolkata! If you have not ‘shown-off’ your Pujo fashion at Maddox Square, your Pujo would seem incomplete!
The Maddox square ek chala protima in traditional Bengali bonediana style has always been the highlight of my Pujo. Being born and brought up in a very Bengali, south Kolkata locality of Lansdowne and Sarat Bose Road, my Pujo memories have always been about nostalgia: memories of anjali in the pandal, with dhaak beats floating in the air. And sometimes I find this nostalgia missing in people nowadays. Most houses have been converted into compact apartments, most families who were earlier joint families, have broken down into scattered nuclear families so the younger generation growing up as part of this culture would yearn to meet the cousins and others of their generation. Pujo provides the perfect opportunity.
WHAT TO WEAR:
If I had my way, I would advice everyone to wear only traditionalwear during the days of the Pujo. Saree for each day and the best saved for the last! And being a designer specialising in handwoven fabrics, I wish people would wear handloom sarees during the Pujo days. Handloom has a wide vocabulary to choose from, for every occasion and taste.
Shoshti/Saptami can be a starting point to take out the simplest of breezy cotton handlooms in mishti colours like pastel pinks, pista or canary yellows. The men can start with elegant classic kurta and churidar in offwhite. Lucknowi chikan in crisp white/offwhite looks very dapper. If saree is not your cup of tea, one can also opt for ethno-contemporary options like flowy palazzos with long kurtas or long dresses. Since adda is also a prime attraction during the early days of the Pujo, these options would work very well.
Coming to Astami, can I please urge you to only stick to the saree while giving anjali? An offwhite laal paar Dhakai Jamdani is what I plan to wear. And yes, for me a saree look is not complete without a red bindi/ ‘laal teep’!!
Navami is reserved for nightouts or evening out with friends, so I would suggest, you can try dressier looks in contemporary Indian silhouettes like anarkali or kallidar, and dresses if you wish to wear Western. The men can layer their kurta-churidar with short bundi jackets or team up their shirts-denims with waistcoats. If you wish to wear a saree here too, (which ideally I would hope you would!), you can take out your silks and dressier weaves like kanjivarams. And out with the jewellery also; please go all out!
Dashami comes with a heavy heart, ashche bochor abar hobe! And you wrap up your Pujo for the year with sindoor khela in a laal paar saree. Natural tussar with red looks resplendent.
So usher in the pujos with the perfect traditional pomp. Wear your heart on your sleeve and make it your own fashion carnival!