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Posted at: Feb 10, 2018, 1:47 AM; last updated: Feb 10, 2018, 1:47 AM (IST)

Six yards of elegance at Surajkund

Anushka Sharma’s reception saree has ushered in good times for the traditional wrap
Six yards of elegance at Surajkund
Gorgeous spread: Banarasi designs are attention catchers at the mela; (below) Anushka Sharma in her reception saree

Sumedha Sharma

“I know copies of this saree will flood the entire country in the next few months to come, which also means that a million weaver’s children will be back at school,” designer Sabyasachi had said when the entire nation went gaga over his Banarasi saree worn by Anushka Sharma at her Delhi wedding reception early this year.

The words have come true at the Surajkund Mela, which appears to be a bright Banarasi corture show with hundreds of people seeking Anushka, Deepika Padukone or Bahubali sarees. “We visit Surajkund often, but just get customers seeking sarees with normal borders and costing a maximum of 10,000 or so. In fact, last year it was just dupattas or kurtas that sold. But now everybody wants an Anushka style saree and it has been for the first time in the last 15 years that we have sold pieces worth Rs 35,000 almost every day,” says Razzaq Khan, a craftsman.

With Uttar Pradesh as the theme state, the fair has over 80 stalls out of the total 150 dedicated to the state that is home to Banarasi sarees. “This year the Banarasi saree has stolen the show, beating good old chikankari,” said Anil Sachdeva, chief coordinator Surajkund Fair.

The sarees are in the range of Rs 5,000 and 1 lakh. They come in a variety of motifs, colours and zari quality. “Many customers come looking for Benarsai sarees and this fair has loads of options, which are far better than the usual stuff we get at monthly exhibitions. Also, the sarees are priced pretty cheap. So, we are here to stock up,” says Vanshika Joon, a Gurugram-based wedding designer.

“Banarasi saree, once a wedding staple, had disappeared from the trousseau. You hardly saw any North Indian bride choosing it as her wedding outfit and that changed production trends as well. We faced major competition from machine-made cheaper options like Banarsai motif lehengas , skirts and dupattas. But with heroines like Anushka and Deepika sporting these sarees, people are falling in love with the traditional sarees again,” adds Mangal Prasad of Benaras Silk house.

So, is it the designers who have led to the rebirth of this regal tradition? “Traditional Bengali and Banarasi brides still wear red sarees. However, North India conveniently forgot us. It has taken a Bollywood reception and award shows to draw people back to the bylanes of Benares,” says Munsif Bhai, a 60-year-old weaver.

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