Posted in Sarees and Textiles
“SaareJahaan Se Achcha, Hindustan Hamara…” boom the voices of the children, in remembrance of our attainment of Independence on the 15th of August, 1947. The triumph of our freedom and the flames of pride are still in our hearts today but somewhere, the women behind such a strong movement has been lost in the pages of history. Equipped with handlooms and an immense amount of courage, they formed the backbone of the Indian Independence movement and as we celebrate another year of hard-earned freedom, we pay tribute to those women who made it all possible.
One of the feistiest freedom fighters of her time, Kittur Chennamma was the first Indian royal to fight against the British Empire, leading an armed rebellion against the East India Company in 1824. Upon her arrest, she became a figurehead for Indian Independence and the movement to come.
Kittur Chennamma popularized the Veeragacche, or battle sari, a glorious, rich 9-yard garment tied with pleats at the back, secured with a band of cloth or gold belt and bifurcated between the legs, that it allowed her to fight with valor on horseback. With a forehead adorned with vibhuthi,accompanied by gold chains, her fierce nature was further empowered by her appearance.
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was the face of so many women: women of the 1900s but also, women of today. As a student in London, she joined Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement in 1923 and continued fighting for freedom in India as well. However, what she is most known for is the revival of both handicrafts of handloom in the post-independence era, allowing for the evolution of arts and crafts that have given birth to an entirely new industry today.
As an actor and the sole savior of the textile industry, Kamaladevi helped workers learn techniques considered novel at the time, carrying out actions such as sending weavers from Andhra Pradesh to Varanasi to learn ikat and silk weaving. She allowed each region to have its own voice and style though personally, she chose to wear handspun sarees, even making them fashionable to wear in public.
Rani Lakshmibai had led a life fit for a true rani in the picturesque state of Jhansi until multiple attacks by the British Raj and a rather violent massacre in June of 1857, pushing the Rani to act later that year, officially declaring war against the British. Soon, the Rani had mounted her horse had entered the battlefield, dying the death of a true soldier. She became a martyr for the cause, setting the tone for a freedom fight that would ensue many years later.
A ruler of the Maratha Empire, Rani Laxmibai was known to carry this identity with pride through her dressing sense as well, choosing lightweight cotton or muslin saris to drape tightly in the Nauvari, or traditional Maharashtrian, style. Adorned only with simple earrings, a belt, and her sword, the Rani’s dressing sense continues to be increasingly popular today, especially in Maharashtra.
As India’s first female Chief Minister and a key member in drafting the Indian constitution, Suchitra Kriplani played an extremely integral part of India’s Independence movement and, more importantly, its future as an independent nation. From the Partition riots in 1947 to her post as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh until 1971, Kriplani paved the way for a brighter and more equal future. She was the first person to sing the national anthem VandeMataram on 15th August 1947 in the Constituent Assembly.
A proud owner of the simple khadi sari, Kriplani was often clad in this during her involvement with the Independence movement, though she would carry the more popular Madrasi saris to disguise herself in the political circuit, allowing for her to achieve the many political heights that she is now so honored for.
Indian history has witnessed women with exceptional patriotism, bravery, and vision who have shared shoulders and duties with men which are quite significant act of their times. Their contribution towards the freedom struggle, however, big or small, still serve as an inspiration to many. As India steps into its 70th year of independence, we salute our freedom fighters, Jai Hind.
Angadi Galleria will be honouring more such valiant personalities through the month. Watch out this space for updates. #Happyindependenceday