On my side of the Vindhyas, the colour black isn’t exactly auspicious. Yet, it occupies pride of place on certain very important occasions in the life of a woman. The Seemantham ceremony, for instance. A ritual specific to women in Tamil Nadu, the Seemantham is a ceremony that celebrates a pregnant woman as she makes the transition from her second to her third trimester. On this particular day, a woman drapes herself in a grand black sari and festooned with jewellery and flowers, she enjoys privilege and is the centre of attention amongst a group of family and friends. I suppose even though the Seemantham is an auspicious ceremony, signalling the arrival of a baby, the colour black is significant for its association with the concept of drishti (warding off the evil eye).
Things are slowly changing in the world of black, and fortunately so. Personally, black, as a colour opens up in my mind an array of possibilities in design, allowing itself become a design backdrop of sorts, becoming in a sense, like The Rolling Stones sang, to be painted. This free-wheeling intervention in design, especially on the colour black, results in the manifestation of a slew of characteristics and contexts allowing the black sari, a sense of the versatile and the possibility of being there, in a sense, everywhere! My Indian friends and clients from abroad often indulge in the black kanjivaram not merely for its stunning value but also for its context fit-ment; making it an ideal garment on an evening-out in a mixed cultural context where the majority of a crowd wears blues and blacks. In India too, people are opening up to the idea of the black sari, shedding their conservative, superstitious baggage, making it a part of their wardrobes, even on special occasions. More recently, and I know this is fairly unusual, I had a young bride, pick a traditional black sari for her wedding reception.