The Banarasis

Two years ago, I was sitting in my grandmother's living room (where she spends a large portion of her day) and we were talking about 'Har-singars' among several other things. She was telling me how she had neighbours from Bengal and they used to prepare kaajal by squeezing the petals and heating the nectar/juice over a low flame. She had learnt from watching them. This went on to tales of her cooking - how she used to constantly create new dishes from her mind and enjoyed the creative process. I still cannot get over the taste of the yummy Seekh Kebabs made over a coal stove and have distant memories of when she used to make them for us. The topic shifts to the 'Garden' - her passion and love and, she goes quiet. I hadn't seen her going to the Garden in the last 4-5 years (or even more) whether for health reasons or age. I ask her about it and whether she would like to come to the garden for a photograph. As you can see, she was sporting enough in more ways than one.

These photographs are a part of my series called 'the Banarasis' - a personal project with portraits of women engaging in a favourite activity from the past which, they have now lost touch with. They are wearing ornate Banarasis (some of which were possibly gifted to them at the time of their wedding). The idea is that the activity as well as the fabric shall serve as a conduit for exploring the relationship of these women with an older version of the self, thereby enabling them to embark on a journey into their youth and memories, whereby they are able to approach, remember, engage with, relive and revive a part of themselves, which has remained ignored due to various factors - whether age, time constraints, family commitments or even self-denial leading to a shrinking of self-esteem. When they do something they truly love, it revitalises their whole being, leading to a feeling of optimism, hope and rejuvenation of the self.     

Happy Birthday Mumma - a big thank you for being the wonderful, sensitive and kind person that you are.