Photo essay – The Colours of Saris

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The sari may not define India, but it certainly defines the women of India. No other garment so strongly projects their quintessential identity, and so on Day 14 (Post 27) of the road trip that became ‘A Passenger through India’ I found myself adjacent Kolkata’s Dakshineswar Kali temple. “A group of young Indian teenage girls in fashionable scrub denim jeans walked elegantly among the throng of pilgrims, holy men, beggars, and devotional attendees. The chic teenagers could have fitted into the trendy Paddington or Glebe markets on a Saturday morning without a cosmopolitan glance out of place.

By the time I fumbled through my pockets for my camera the girls had been swallowed up by the crowd, so I passed my time photographing the unfolding display of sari clad women, in family groups or with their mothers, husbands or children, walking to and from the temple. Hundreds, though their numbers were, I did not see one garment in duplication, not one instance of repetition. Each sari was unique in its choice and combination of colour, print design or embroidery. I just stood there unobtrusively clicking away, steadily archiving images as they walked past.” In Hometown the street parade is largely one of drabness, but here it was a kaleidoscope of eloquence, no matter how humble the situation of each wearer may have been.

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