The Chowdhrain I am, the Chowdhrain I aspire to be and the Chowdhrain I was are all parts of me that nobody can steal nobody or no one truly knows about. Each day that has passed has been an experience and a journey that has made me the woman I am today. A few days back, while I was walking my way back home, I suddenly glanced at a tree that reminded me of my childhood days. The days when people used to enjoy their lives with their families and friends and the time when smartphones and social media were foreign concepts. During those days, while I was a cute little girl, my father took me to his hometown, Chanderi. At that time, I had no clue that how this small voyage to the town would end up being a life-changing experience in itself but now that I look back at it, I often realise how far I have come.
The story that I hereby narrate is moreover a conglomeration of rusted memories that begin with me and my family reaching the town of Chanderi in the Ashok Nagar district of Madhya Pradesh. The temperatures were unbearably high and I remember all my clothes had got darkened and wet because of the sweat but at that very moment, when I saw my mother, she seemed quite comfortable and relaxed. As a kid, it was so difficult for me to understand how can a person be so comfortable in such an energy soaking temperature and that too when she has draped a heavy saree all around her body. I got to know about the answer as I grew up and by god’s own will, it ended up turning into the brand you know as ‘ Chowdhrain’.
The answer to the question that I had in my mind ages ago, was the name of the town itself - Chanderi ! Yes ! My mother was wearing a Chanderi saree which I had no idea about but later on, as I grew up and mocked some sense in my head I realised that it is one of the best fabrics to be worn in summers. The somewhat faded experience of the voyage also reminds me of the little things that were a source of immense happiness for us as kids. This includes having those small Baraf ka Golas , Dassehri mangoes, drinking banta from those glass bottles and much more. The visits to the Kati Ghati, Kila Kothi, Thuvonji Jain temple, Rajghat Dam, Khuni Darwaza and the local markets are all a part of my memory now. Never had I ever thought that those times would fly in a fraction of a second and I would be writing about them with my kid, Ridhaan of almost the same age as I was playing in front of me.
One good thing that has stayed with me is my love for Chanderis. Fascinated and eager to know about my mother’s comfort in the heat ages ago, even today, every Chanderi saree that I pick gives me a certain sense of satisfaction and pleasure. It is perhaps because of the luxurious vibe that it beholds or its nature to repel the heat; oblivious to the real answer, all I know is I certainly am in love with them from my childhood itself. Personally, for me, they aren’t just fabrics that are weaved as a saree and worn but they are life lessons in themselves. Each Chanderi saree regardless of its luxurious and opulent style is so light in nature just as we humans should be. Perhaps we all must have a character that beholds bravery and strength on the outside but what matters is how beautifully calm and light we stay from the inside as well; just like our Chanderi sarees. Another important thing to learn from a Chanderi is to not just be light or relaxed but to always be eye-catching and attractive as well. The way you dress up and put yourself out shows half your confidence even before you speak. This is exactly what a Chanderi prepares you for, to be a Chowdhrain even before you utter a word.
Though at the same time, being a fan of Chanderis, one thing that constantly troubles me is the fact that georgettes with zari, printed sarees in polyester, block printed cotton sarees etc. are wrongfully sold by the name of a “Chanderi”. As a matter of fact, this is also one of the reasons that forced me to start up my own venture that could allow me to take a stand for all the Chanderi weavers and lovers. The saddest part is all the machine-made silk cotton sarees that are manufactured in Surat are all being sold as Chanderis because of which a true Chanderi has lost its own identity. Being an eternal member of the town of Chanderi, I know about the hard work and struggles of the weavers of this town. There are about 12,000 looms in Chanderi placed in the weaver’s own homes, where the whole family is involved in the saree weaving process starting from yarns to warping to dyeing to weaving. Unlike other clusters of handlooms in India, Chanderi weavers have the loom in their own homes and not a factory of multiple looms at a place which even indicates and portrays the immense love and affection that they have for their skill, their weave and their town.
The question to be asked here is that if all the other sarees are continued to be sold as Chanderis and if the true Chanderis continue to lose their real identity at this pace, will the weavers of Chanderi continue their art or will they be interested to weave a Chanderi saree as they were ages ago? Or will they even want to pass this tradition of weaving to their upcoming generations? We all know the answer to this question and this is what disheartens me. Chowdhrain is not against machine-made silk cottons or any other fabric or weave but the fact that over the years, these sarees have wrongfully adopted the identity of Chanderis and now almost 90% of the people don’t even know what a true Chanderi is.
It is because of this very reason, that with our brand, we wish to promote, acknowledge and foster the work of Chanderi weavers.