Blog post by Bhavya Venkatesh
Being TamBrahm means many things – some complex, some interesting, others quirky. My personal TamBrahm story is one of fascination for the tradition that has been handed down through generations, and still lives on strongly today – the Madisar, draping TamBrahm women in style since the invention of TamBrahms!
Everyone has a Madisar memory, I have many. My earliest is of my great-grandmother effortlessly draping her Chungidi madisars around her tiny frame. I do not remember ever seeing her in anything else. Growing up, the saree transformed into an indicator of the routine morning poojai time at home, with my madisar-clad grandmother being madi et al, and the others being groggy, sleepy et al. The madi outfit for the next morning would be diligently washed and hung the previous day, and as a bystander I would be amazed at the sheer length of the saree. My mother’s madisars, apart from serving the purpose of being whipped out at special occasions, also became objects that my sister and I eyed longingly.
At functions where maamis invariably became madisar maamis, I would marvel at the ease with which the women carried themselves, the fact that the same length of cloth fit every woman differently, and at how it gloriously added to the festive atmosphere. My musings always culminated at the point where I would fantasize about wearing my own.
Quite understandably, when the time came for me to finally drape my own nine yards of fabric, my excitement exceeded the length of the saree by far. While saree shopping for my wedding extended into hours of mulling, choosing and exchanging, the choice of the koorai podavai was instantaneous. There it was, buried under piles of sarees in Sundari Silks, the beautifully traditional checked arakku (maroon) that caught my eye and my fancy. Unmatched by any of the more flamboyant, contemporary colours around it, it became mine – the saree I would wear in my transition from ‘single’ to ‘married’.
After a lifetime of silently waiting for it, my madisar moment arrived during my unmistakably big fat TamBrahm wedding. I was overwhelmed – mostly by the enormity of the moment that awaited, partly by the swiftness with which the saree was expertly draped around a dazed me, and, ever so gently, by the wonderful feeling of finally, finally living the madisar fantasy.