Rent-A-Saree: It happens only in India

Gramshree introduces first-of-its-kind saree library that loans

expensive silk and heavily embroidered

Poor women can borrow these sarees not just for weddings but also birthday parties and other special occasions. Gramshree plans to collect 1,00 sarees to set up five libraries across Ahmedabad

Poor women can borrow these sarees not just for weddings but also birthday parties and other special occasions. Gramshree plans to collect 1,00 sarees to set up five libraries across Ahmedabad

Until recently, Pinku Makwana thought her childhood dream of wearing nine yards of Patola silk fabric to a social function would never materialise.

For the domestic help from Ranip in Ahmedabad, keeping a single piece of Patola sari in her wardrobe would have triggered quite a malfunction in her budget.

These saris, which display one of the world’s most complex weaving techniques, come with price tags of between Rs. 5,000 (for a plain Jane) and a deep hole in your pocket (for the intricate variety of golden brocades).

But she did make her sister-in-law burn with envy when she went to a family get-together dressed in a gorgeous Patola – courtesy of a non-government organisation that has started a rent-a-sari service.

Pinku’s dream got fulfilled for a mere Rs. 5 and the expensive sari will be hers for a week.

Of course, she has to foot the dry cleaner‘s bill before returning. But a real small price to pay. Vandana Agarwal from Gramshree in Ahmedabad started this venture after she heard many women workers in the NGO often complaining about their fate – that is wearing the same sari to all social functions.

“Most of the women working with us belong to the low-income group. They can’t afford to buy or keep more than one good sari for social occasions. They would often brood about this fact,” Vandana said.

This led Vandana to open a “sari library”. “The idea is simple. All one needs is a guarantor and Rs.5 to pick up a sari of her choice for a week,” she said.

Vandana has two “libraries” running simultaneously with roaring success in Ahmedabad – one in the Ranip area and the other in Chandlodia. Both localities were primarily inhabited by people of low-income groups.

Proposal for a third one has been on the anvil.

“We have a range of expensive saris such as the Gujarati Patolas, the South Indian Kanjivarams and other silk. Our clientele can’t afford to buy them. At present, we have more than 200 such saris, mostly collected through donations. More are pouring in,” she said.

For the donors, the idea was appealing. “I have collected so many expensive saris over the years and many of them were idling away in my cupboard,” homemaker Hetal Patel said.

“When I realised that my sari could bring so much joy to someone, I just couldn’t resist myself,” she added.

“Thanks to Vandana didi, I can wear good saris just like women from high society,” Pinku said. (courtesy: D. P. BHATTACHARYA & mailonlineindia)

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