Monday, 2 May 2011

The forgotten ensemble

Tamil Pavadai- thavani
If there is a dress that can keep you innocent-looking even in your forties- it is this! I was crazy about our very own Tamil Pavadai- Thavani ( half saree), though i learnt to wear it properly after lots of help from my friends and a dozen safety pins. The most beautiful pavadai thavani has almost died, its very existence challenged by our North Indian counterparts- the lehenga and churidars. Dressing is one's own private choice, but seeing the present generation's aversion to the Tamil traditional costume, i am worried. Its not uncommon to see many colleges in rural areas make wearing sarees and haf-sarees compulsory. It is of course appropriate, lest we shall never see young girls in it.

Jimikki- jhumkas!
A few months back, i had a trip to my native in South Tamilnadu, a small quaint town in Western Ghats and was surprised by the quantum of churidars and jeans i saw. Not a single pavadai thavani! It was Heaven to simply open my cupboard and take out my magenta colored pattu pavadai and navy blue thavani! It was my favorite dress- the Best my Mother bought for me and i relished wearing it a decade back. Festooned with two braids carelessly waving in front ( rettai jadai!), a tiny jimikki tinkling in the ears, a long trail of jasmine flowers tucked behind the ears, a long pendant chain with white stones, anklets clinking with joy, glass bangles the same shade of thavani clinking, a red bindi on the forehead- it is just awesome remembering those days!

India's National attire;)
I shuffled the thavani for hours- wearing, changing and again shuffling till there was a perfect V at the back and spent another half hour in clamping safety pins to cover up- a dozen at least! Thank God, i promoted soon from half-sarees to sarees, else my Dad would have become bankrupt buying safety pins for his chellaponnu's thavani! Pattu ( silk) pavadai and georgette thavani was equally appealing to me as the faded denim and casual tees. We get to see denim clad girls hanging jasmine flowers up to their hips from their hair in local festivals and village belles fetching water from street taps adorned in nighties these days. Excuse me ladies! Nighties are night wear strictly meant to be worn at home. One can see women in nighties dropping kids at school, buying grocery in Annachi ( local grocer shops manned by South Tamil men) shops and funny enough i found a lady attending mass at a Church covered head to toe in a pillow case @ nightie! No wonder, sooner or later, nightie might become our National Dress!

I am sad i have overgrown my pavadai thavani days, but i am definitely happy to be wearing its long time cousin- the saree. Be it kanjeevaram or venkatagiri cotton, Italian crepe or zardosi worked designer piece, i simply cannot resist the temptation to feel it, to touch it and savor wearing it! Luckily for me, my little angel L is an ardent lover of sarees at age 5! We have already decided which sarees she inherits from me- she seems to be craving for the high- end kanjeevarams more- her Dad says " Like Mother, like daughter!" This is one happy legacy i am damn glad to be passing on to L- all my sarees and that magenta pattupavadai and blue thavani!



25 comments:

  1. Sarees are definitely one of the most elegant wear we could ever have but its sad to see that its fast fading away!
    And you have so rightly pointed out,
    'No wonder, sooner or later, nightie might become our National Dress!' Just couldnt agree more to this!

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  2. Oh, Pavadai melak was so famous during my youth, the colours, the accompaniments to go with it everything was super. I thought it was the easiest thing to wear,i never needed any pins for it, it draped quite nicely all by itself.
    Those days, you could see the tamil heroines swearing this dress in such lovely colour combinations, they still wear it in the village movies.
    It is sad it is worn only by unmarried girls,it was never meant for married women.
    However in Assam whether married or unmarried they all wear Mekala Chaddar, which is just like our pavadai davini, and they look very beautiful. You can buy it from Asssm emporiam, and wear it even now.
    Good to read about Pavadai melak, jumki, poo, valai, guloosu and potu.
    Have you left Thrichy?

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  3. Cloud nine, I love pavadai thavani a lot but now-a-days it is not at all in existence.. Hmm what will happen to your culture..

    Someone is Special

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  4. Dear Arti, thanks a lot for your time and comment. See you soon in our National attire;)

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  5. Dear Rama, am still very much in Trichy:) Enjoying the HOT summer here:((( Nice to know about Assamese Mekala Chaddar. And to talk of Tamil heroines- our own Dravidian heroines look great in pavadai thavani than their size zero Northern counterparts:)

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  6. 1.Survival of the fittest.
    2.Mass customization.
    3.Reg.Nighties its comparable to LUNGIs of men. its better if some one finds a beter equivalent of casual wear for women too.(Like T shirt and a Cotton pant for men).workable with a good mkt potential.

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  7. Dear Sis....thanks for your comment. What will happen to our culture?- a great question to ponder on. It will die a slow tortured death:(((

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  8. Dear Anonymous! I love the way you analyse every post, be it a serious issue or a trivial nothing. You read in depth, you comment methodically and well-balanced. Happy to have you as my regular reader here! Agreeing with you again, we have to find a feasible alternative like lungi:)))

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  9. I love your attires..colourful and sexy.Whenever i watch your films, i marvel, especially at the wedding apparels. The western world is really having a heavy influence on our culture that in my country Nigeria, if one does not follow the trend, such would be considered OLD-FASHIONED or have no sense of style..it really worries me to see our youth expose their body in the name of fashion and being trendy!

    p.s thanks for being my blogger-friend.

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  10. Dear Ibhade, i do share the same concern that you have for Nigerian youth. Of course, their Indian counterparts follow suit. Its easy to ape the West in apparels. But what about the culture and tradition that we preserve and guard so vehemently?:((( Thanks for your time and comment:)

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  11. forgot to mention the portrayal of "magenta colored pattu pavadai ...two braids ....jimikki,....jasmine flowers...glass bangles...red bindi " a too good portrayal of a too good tamil ponnu. was like visiting a old painting.too scintillating..

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  12. Hey anonymous...this is the response i was waiting for in this topic! So, finally i can conclude, the entire half saree ensemble and its accessories are sensuous;)

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  13. Pavadai thavani upto 16 or 17 wld look elegant,particularly with dangling jimikki and two braids.Beyond that a sari with a single braid is more bewitching and apt.அதுதான் அந்தந்த வயதுக்கு பாந்தமாக இருக்கும்.
    A very good write up

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  14. Dear KParthasarathi, thanks for the visit and comment. Yeah, saree and a single braid after 20s is apt, but ask any woman beyond 20 if they would like to swap sarees with half sarees....the answer will be overwhelmingly half saree! Thanks again:)

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  15. I was too thinking about writing abt this.. when i wore half saree to my college in 2003, everyone was shocked.. no one ever thought abt it.. i too love my dark violet pavadai and off white dhavani. Also its true when people say amma's pavadai thavani becomes daughter's pavadai chattai.. silk is truely a treasure to be passed down to the next generation

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  16. :) loved the post. brought back memories, memory of that orange pattu paavadai and georgette thaavani to go with it, the malligai poo, and the skip in your heart!!
    yes such an elegant beautiful attire, there should be some promotion done, to hoist up its popularity and wearability! but catch these kiddos wearing them, naah...! mebe in tamil duets..actually the long plait with the kundalam goes well with it i guess, come to think of it!! :)

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  17. Dear Hema, thanks for your visit and comment:) Yes, true- i simply love to drape Mother's silk sarees:)))

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  18. Dear VaidegiJ, thanks for your visit and comment. Sure sure, Tamil heroines look great in single braid and kundalam, have you ever seen one girl on the road with a kundalam, unless its for a dance programma?:P

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  19. Absolutely inspiring!
    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the visit. :)

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  20. those days everyone used to wear the thavani...and churidar was a rare sight...to be worw only on special occasions..but now it is almost opposite

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  21. Dear Madrasi...yes, very true. I wish young people wear half sarees for all special occasions. Churidar is a safe ensemble, but half saree is more subtle:) Thanks for the visit and comment:)

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  22. Yes, pavadai davani is now an extinct dress. In villages sarees are also going out of fashion as women are switching more to the "pillow cases" ( bombay habit that has wandered into our Tamil land). I myself ofcourse was never a fan of this dress forced as I used to be by my mother to wear it for all social functions whenever we came south- with or without safety pins it would be disaster on me..!

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  23. Dear Meera, thanks for the comment here. Pillow cases are everywhere, except Pillows;)Dress is for comfort, i agree, but beauty is what underlies the clothing we choose as women:P

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  24. No doubt, Thavani will make a round again like bell bottm pants! Fashion changes always and old is gold!

    However, 'comfort' and 'convenient' play big roll, jeans or chudidar will be best to drive two wheeler!

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  25. Hey, don't say, Thavani will be out of fashion!. Let Shibani (Set Max) try this once, let us see...

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