#100SareePact: Indian women share stories with saree snaps

The hashtag provides an online platform for stories and memories associated to each saree outfit to be shared and celebrated

Nabila Pathan

Published: Updated:

What started as a pact between two friends, Anju Maudgal Kadam and Ally Matthan, has now gone viral. The #100sareepact has become an internet sensation, attracting media attention across the world.

It all started when the two Bengaluru-based friends agreed to wear their sarees 100 times before the end of 2015 and, through social media, encouraged others to do the same. As they bring elegant dressing and South Asian style back into their lives, they’ve also become storytellers, recounting the histories and narratives woven into each of their sarees.

The hashtag provides an online platform for stories and memories associated to each saree outfit to be shared and celebrated. The hashtag has sparked nationwide conversation and allowed casual observers a unique insight in the lives of contemporary Indian women whilst also promoting a national dress.

Photographs and accompanying accounts not only come from different parts of India, but from different sources too; from old albums, memories of events (graduation, weddings, anniversary gifts), places and people connected to the saree.

Speaking to Al Arabiya News, Kadam explains how stories behind the saree outfit have enabled women, and men to “find a voice to express their joy, sorrow, opinion.

“Strong statements on relationships, a comment on society, even prejudice have emerged. But what has been most delightful for us is the positivity.”

The pair insist it’s not about showcasing how many sarees one has but rather a celebration of the cultural dress and its associated memories. Their website reinforces this: “Repeats allowed, of course they are! It’s a chance to enjoy what we have already.”

Having worked as a business journalist, Kadam says she’d often reach for a saree to interview heads of companies because it boosted her confidence. She thinks wearing sarees at work conveys a formal and professional statement. Of course, weddings and festivals always had her reaching for sarees too.

It’s difficult for Kadam to pick a favorite story because of the variety on offer. Instead she offers a favorite kind, one that makes her feel like she’s an audience member to a storyteller as well as one that she can identify with:

“A busy mother, a challenging day at work, a celebration of a personal milestone, or a telling about family ties. And we’ve got many storytellers telling different stories at the #100sareepact. And the stories have been very personal too. But the Pact-ers have felt that this is a safe place to share, despite it being so public. That has been my greatest satisfaction and joy.”

The popularity of the pact on Facebook and Twitter has provided an opportunity for a population of Indian women and men to reconnect and celebrate the traditional Indian dress. No longer are the two urban Indian women, Anju and Ally, lamenting that their sarees “lie in their cupboards, unworn and unseen.”

With the website having gone live recently, the blog will remain a work in progress, as Anju explains: “as we steal time from our day jobs to work on it, but already it’s a space that is positive and upbeat to visit, the #100sareepact is not for sale and does not sell anything. It only spreads happiness. And happiness cannot be bought or sold, it can only be shared.”

Their website is now archiving the fascinating mixture of emotions and sentiments attached to the sarees across the country. The photographs are a snapshot into Indian life and cultural traditions and it uniquely takes readers and viewers into the hearts of women living in the world’s largest democracy.

“Each saga comes wrapped in six yards of material woven in looms in different corners of India...the sari has become a medium for narrating anecdotes, mostly by women, age no bar. The fabric of this great Indian story is woven by women who have worn a sari at some point in their life,” captures the Hindu news report on the # 100sareepact phenomenon.