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    Ally and Anju Photos, stills

    A LOVELY thing has been happening on my Facebook timeline: women in colourful sarees are posting pictures, with little stories attached to each, every day; some I know, others I don’t, all hashtagged #100sareepact. And I was curious.

    Ally and Anju

    It’s only Day 5 of the #100sareepact when I meet its creators, perfumier Ally Matthan and filmmaker Anju Maudgal Kadam for their first official interview (both wearing beautiful sarees). By now the #100sareepact is a mini movement.
    The idea popped up during a casual chat between the two, nudged along by Anju’s friend Kusum Rohra. “We have dozens of sarees, most of which we don’t wear,” says Ally. So why not air and wear them? Pick out a hundred sarees for the rest of the year – perhaps wear one every three days. Sarees they own – not necessarily new ones. Then post a photo dressed in the saree on Facebook, with a small introduction. Simple.
    They didn’t realise it would
    catch on quicker than fire. As they posted, friends thrilled at the idea, joined in. And the saree stories poured forth.
    One woman posted a photo in the first saree she bought. A corporate wore her saree on a construction site, a third shared stories of sarees worn to college. A fourth posted from hospital. A friend in the US decided to dust off her saree collection and join in, as did another in Japan. Sarees from husbands, mothers, besties, mothers-in-law. A blogger in the US invited them to post their saree story on her website. “Social media amplifies the message, “says Anju.
    Both Ally and Anju are clear this isn’t commercial or self-promotional in any way. Nor do they pitch themselves as ‘saree experts’. “What started as a small idea to wear sarees we already have has become a medium bringing people together, many of them strangers.” Men too are chipping in, applauding the endeavour. The sarees, along with the myriad women wearing them, have become stars.
    It’s not just about airing sarees now. Both Ally and Anju have realised the richness of storytelling that has also opened up in the process: new friends, happy tales, acknowledging our Indian heritage in ways that cuts across class, culture and age. “We see already the stories touching others’ lives,” says Anju, as people across timelines comment excitedly on new posts.
    On the anvil is a blog on the #100sareepact journey, an archival site featuring all the stories they will gather over the next months; events too. Both say they’re only catalysts – it’s not about them but the growing community of women and their beautiful sarees they are discovering daily. Anju and Ally recount a few – sad, poignant, happy, inspiring.
    If the first five days are anything to judge by, there will be a deluge to come as the days unfold and posts multiply. “I love opening my Facebook page now,” says Anju, “My timeline is so beautiful.”

    m firstimpressionbangalore@gmail.com

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