Kaju usal

ओल्या काजूची ऊसळ

Usal means a preparation made using a pulse or a sprout.

Kaju usal is made using tender cashews. These tender kaju’s have their skins or kernels intact. It is very rare to procure these since they are available for a limited time of the year. Plus they have a very short shelf life and tase best when consumed fresh.

This usal is very simple and uses my favourite formula. तिखट + मीठ +गूळ + गोडा मसाला. This formula never goes wrong!

My tadka formula is also constant . Oil + mustard seeds +hing + haldi

Start by soaking the cashew nuts in hot water. The hot water helps to remove the kernels easily. Remove their skins, rinse and keep aside.

Make tadka, add the cashews and sauté for a bit.

Add some water and bring to boil. Add the cooked and mashed potatoes to the gravy to thicken it slightly. Adjust the water content as per your preference.

When the mixture starts boiling, add some jaggery, red chilly powder, some Goda masala and salt to taste. Put some grated fresh coconut in it too.

The usal is done when the cashews are cooked.

Garnish liberally with fresh grated coconut and chopped coriander!

Sometimes I skip the potatoes. I grind some grated dry coconut and jeera and add this mixture to to thicken the gravy.

This formula can be used for most usals, be it matki, moong or chawli!

Enjoy with hot polis or even poories, with samras on the side !

Doodhichya salichi chutney

Doodhichya salichi chutney

Doodhi/ lauki/bottlegourd..such an amazing, versatile vegetable. From sweet to savoury to everything in between, there is nothing that this vegetable cannot perform!

I get super excited when I see fresh doodhi. I can think of so many dishes that I could prepare with it.

From soup, to avial, to sambar, to koftas, to halwa, to parathas… the list is endless.

This vegetable is so humble that it does not allow a single shred to be wasted.

The white tender fleshy inside is what is consumed most.

But guess what, the peels can be used to make a nice spicy dry chutney. Incidently the peel has the maximum nutrients.



Just grate the doodhi outer peel, stopping just before the whites start showing. Keep aside.

You will need

  • Finely chopped green chillies (quantity according to your spice tolerance level and also according to the variety of chillies)
  • Sesame seeds
  • The “tadka kit” (oil, hing, haldi, mustard seeds)
  • An iron kadhai ( this gives a nice colour to the chutney and also increases the iron content in it)

In the kadhai, make a tadka, add sesame seeds and green chillies. Roast lightly.

Then add the grated doodhi peels.

Keep roasting in low flame, stirring constantly, till the mixture becomes crisp. Add salt to taste.

Cool and store in an airtight container. This chutney lasts upto a week.

Tastes best with Bhakri or even with hot steamed rice with toop and salt.

There are many variations of this preparations.

Sometimes I like to add grated dry coconut too. In the absence of green chillies, you may add red chilly powder. Just add it after the mixture becomes crisp, so that the powder does not burn.

Not only is this chutney nutritious, it can also instantly pep up a boring meal.




It’s a jungle out there !

And just like that….. there he was. The moment that I had been waiting for, was finally here. Just when I was on the verge of giving up all hopes of seeing HIM……there he was!

I got a feeling that he was waiting there, just for me. For a few seconds, I felt it was just he and I, the world around me had stopped still.

It almost felt like he was waiting for me to give up searching for him so that he could appear magicLly before me……as though he wanted to prove to me…..’don’t give up hope, anything can happen here……you are in the jungle remember?’

His sudden appearance startled me, I let out a sudden gasp that seemed to make him turn towards me and just for a fraction of a second, our eyes met before he turned away and continued to walk. His walk….oh his walk…. So majestic, so confident…..I was literally swept off my feet!

Mesmerised and awestruck, like I had seen a vision, I had seen GOD! It was love at first sight. What was it about him that makes me fall in love with him again and again? What is this love draws me to meet him every year?

Have you ever seen a tiger in the wild? Roaming free? If you have, then you know what I am talking about. The thrill, the excitement, the rush of adrenalin, the awe, it is inexplicable!

The feeling is comparable to ‘Falling in love for the first time’

But you know what……when you see a tiger in the wild….you fall in love with him over and over again….. (Wish that were true in real life……that we could fall in love with the same person over and over again)

A jungle safari, for me is akin to going to the temple. Some people are willing to stand in long queues or undergo penances , to get a ‘darshan’ or a glimpse of the deity. But rarely do they get to see God.

The jungle is my temple. It is here that I see GOD, everywhere around me, in trees, birds, deer, peacocks, butterflies, the kingfishers, the serpent eagles, the spotted owls, the woodpeckers and of course, the lord himself… the great Bengal Tiger!

What have I learnt from my jungle safaris?

  • Always have a goal in mind but don’t let that stop you from appreciating the milestones on the way to reaching that destination.

Most people set out on a safari with the sole aim of seeing a tiger, so much so that they miss out on the beauty of other equally rare and unique species. Did you know that sighting a sloth bear is actually so much rarer that sighting a tiger? Celebrate small successes !

  • Listen to the signs and hear the signals. Trust your intuition and inner voice

Just like how the jungle speaks to you, the universe sends you signals that could help you take a decision or keep you on the right course. Tune your antennas to these signals

  • Trust your guide.

The jungle guides and naturalists are able to track animals by simply interpreting the signs and listening to the sounds of the jungle. It could be the sight of fresh pugmarks of any of the jungle cats, or it could be the alarm call of a monkey that had just spotted, from his vantage point on a treetop, a tiger on the move. A good guide can help you track the tiger and spot it too.

In real life, these guides can be in the form of your teachers, parents, friends, co-workers, your boss or even your spouse. Trust them, they will increase your chances of success.

  • Stay in the present.

A jungle safari is full of surprises. You could encounter a tiger as soon as you enter the park of sometimes you could go for even ten safaris without seeing a single tiger. The key is to stay alert and enjoy the jungle in all its glory. The trees, the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze, the cooing of a solitary dove on top of a dried tree or even seeing wild orchids growing on a dead tree! In life too, stay in the present and enjoy the small things. Look for beauty in oddest places.

  • Let go of the need to control

Acknowledge the fact that there is some great power at work here. The jungle is a great reminder to us that no matter how much we try, nature has her own rules and all the jungle animals are bound by those rules. The tiger, the leopard, the shy sloth bear…. They will show themselves to you only when they choose to, not when you want them to. All you can do is wait and watch! It’s a very humbling experience.

  • Stay positive and have faith.

So what if you did not see a single tiger in any of your safaris, that should not stop you from going for the next safari! Who knows, you might see an entire family of tigers or even a sloth bear or two, in your next safari!

Afterall, it’s a jungle out there!








Finding Wabi Sabi

Ever so often, a new word or a phrase starts trending . It catches everyones fancy and becomes the new ‘it’ word or phrase.

One such word is Wabi Sabi. The curious sounding phrase immediately prompted me to look up its meaning.

So, Wabi Sabi is a Japanese philosophy that focusses on finding beauty within the natural imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay. This philosophy can be applied to objects, people, art and even relationships!

Accepting imperfections and embracing them is perhaps the true meaning of Wabi Sabi.

The term is both difficult to translate but also easy to apply. See, there is imperfection in translation too. And this makes Wabi Sabi intriguing (and thus, attractive.)

It is a philosophy that is both simple ( and  complex ) to embrace. It urges you to understand accept yourself with all your flaws, faults, wrinkles and imperfections.

It could also be described as a  feeling.

This feeling could be a mix of melancholy and happiness . Its the emotion that you experience when you hold an heirloom Paithani saree that belonged to your grandma , who is no more.

It is this same feeling that you feel when you see your daughter as a bride.

Bittersweet. It evokes both a sense of calm mixed with restlessness.

In our hectic lives, the relentless pursuit of excellence and flawlessness in our relationships, work, career and looks, creates tremendous tension and stress .

But Perfection can boring because it is  predictable. One loses interest in anything that is repetitive. (I think thats why pronouns were created)

Its so strange, that on one hand we all strive for perfection and on the other hand, we simply fall in love with imperfection and unpredictability.

It is Wabi Sabi that makes you fall in love with a handwritten letter , rather than a printed note.

The smile which flashes that one crooked tooth, is considered as attractive rather than a flaw.

A dimple on the cheek (which is actually a flaw in a muscle) could be the most beautiful feature of a face.

That is Wabi Sabi for you.

The best example of Wabi Sabi is the Japanese art of “Kintsugi” . In this art form, when a piece of pottery breaks, the pieces are joined together with a paste made of gold flakes.Thereby actually highlighting the crack, instead of hiding it. The result? The pottery looks more beautiful than the original piece.

In the words of the poet W H Davies, the poem ‘leisure’ begins with the words….’what is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare….’

(The poet laments the lack of leisure time in our lives. This was way back in 1911. I wonder what he would have felt about our current lifestyles.)

The Wabi Sabi philosophy urges you to take a pause and smell the roses. It begs us to appreciate and count our blessings so that we enjoy the process, with all its imbalances and flaws.

Applying Wabi Sabi is very easy . It does not require any special training, extraordinary skills  or money.

It requires a mindset to appreciate the inherent beauty in everything, the willingness to accept that everything is incomplete, imperfect and impermanent . If you stop looking for it too hard, it will come and find you.

Just like how I found it when I was decoupaging an old wooden box.(Decoupage is the art of decorating objects with bits of paper).

The box had got stained and had discoloured at certain places. After gently cleaning the surface, it revealed a beautiful patina underneath. The mildew had left behind some amazing colours in the veins of the wood. I chose some colourful paper that I had saved from old magazines and carefully tore the desired pictures. I choose not to cut them because, you see, cutting a paper gives smooth edges to the picture. That’s so boring.

The tearing action pulls out the delicate fibres of the paper, making the edge look fuzzy and soft. Plus tearing paper can be so relaxing, do try it.

I started pasting these papers on the box, taking care not to hide the veins that had the patina. I had to wait for the first layer to dry before I pasted more. That slowed down my pace and I was literally forced to pause, take a step back  and review my work.

The nature of this art form ‘allows’ you to review and re-work your decisions. Nothing is permanent. You can always paste over something that you don’t approve of. In fact at times the top layer reveals bits of the lower layer, thus adding to the beauty of the final work! If you rush your work and try to paint or paste over when the glue is wet, the delicate paper will tear off and you will have to start all over again!

However, in the process,  I have learnt that these mistakes can ultimately make the artwork more beautiful. In addition to this, the magic of any handmade object has its own charisma, no matter how  amateurish or flawed it may be.

Any imperfections in the artwork, enhance the beauty of the final masterpiece.

Imagine if we ‘allowed’ ourselves to be worked on in this way?

Imagine if we ‘allowed’ our relationships to be worked on like this?

We are all masterpieces in progresses. There is beauty in our imperfections and flaws. Wabi Sabi gives you permission to embrace and accept ourselves , warts and all.

Decoupage is forgiving. It is ongoing. It allows you to make mistakes. It helps you to appreciate the beauty in ageing, decaying and unwanted objects It forces you to slow down and to appreciate the journey rather that being in a rush to reach the destination.

Be like decoupage!

I think I have found my way to Wabi Sabi .

May you find yours soon.

Till then, stay happy , healthy and fabulous!





Paithani Stories-part two

“I was 25 years old, when I married Bhausaheb,” Vijaya aunty remembers. “I was a much older bride considering that the year was 1956.”

Vijayabai ( as she is fondly addressed) came from a family that valued education, especially for girls. Her parents wanted their daughters to have a wholesome education before getting them married off.

“Bhausaheb’s grandmother gave me this shela when I entered the Patwardhan household as a new bride”. Vijayabai shares this memory as she touches the beautiful black shela that she has draped on her shoulders.

Vijayabai is 88 years today and she has happily agreed to wear her favourite Paithani and her heirloom shela , just for me.

I am really touched by this gesture of hers.

When I entered her house to visit her, Sumedha , her daughter in law, welcomed me . “She’s ready and waiting for you , ” she said.

I walked inside and there she was . Sitting regally in her favourite armchair. Draped in a gorgeous maroon and gold Paithani. The colour perfectly complimenting her fair complexion. She was wearing the traditional ‘thushi ‘ ( gold chocker) and a long gold mohanmaal. Her silver hair, pulled back elegantly and the trademark long maroon bindi on her forehead. The black shela, draped beautifully on her right shoulder. Traditional gold ‘patlis ‘ and ‘bangdis ‘ shone from her delicate wrists.

‘A Paithani deserves traditional gold jewellery’ she said firmly. ‘How can I pose in a Paithani without wearing these authentic maharashtrian jewels? ”

I admire her enthusiasm!

She looked so elegant, I was blown away.

She posed happily for the photographs, all the while talking and remembering the many occasions that she had worn that maroon Paithani.

The decades gone by had not dulled the shine of her Paithani, not the sparkle in her eyes as she spoke of the memories that she shared with her Paithani.

Like when she wore it for her older son’s wedding, or for Bhausaheb’s 60th birthday. She would sometimes close her eyes while talking about it , as though she could see it in her minds eye like it happened yesterday.

(Unfortunately Bhausaheb passed away in 2002. )

She points to the shela and says, “Do you know this is more that 150 years old? And as per tradition it belongs to Sumedha . And then, naturally it will go to my grandson’s wife ! It is a legacy that will stay in the family .” Her voice was filled with pride when she said that.

By now I am in seventh heaven. I cannot believe that this shela is such an antique one.

It still looks as good as new. The gold ( pure silver, plated with gold) still glows and glistens through its delicate threads.

The earlier shelas and Paithani sarees were made in pure cotton and pure silver and gold zari.

I feel privileged that I have been allowed to view and even touch this heirloom.

Vijayabai happily poses for more pictures. “You look like a queen “, I said.

“I feel like one,” she answered promptly, “every single time that I wear my Paithani.”

That’s the magic of the paithani!

Paithani stories – part one!

The human brain is a funny thing. A mere smell or a sound or even a texture can unleash memories so vivid , it would seem as if you are actually experiencing it in present.

The smell of a particular agarbatti, immediately takes me back to my Ajji’s ‘deoghar ‘ ( Puja room) . I can almost see her in her nine Yard saree, making chandan ( sandalwood paste ) for her gods.

The sight of parijat flowers on the ground, transports me to my nani’s house in a small village called Barshi.

All this happens in a nano second, almost like magic. Memories that are tucked away deep in the corner of your heart, become unlocked by these visuals and smells.

As I hold my Paithani in my hands and run my fingers on the delicate weave, I am overwhelmed by the flood of memories that engulf me.

I had draped her for the first time for the naming ceremony of my first born , Nikita .

My Paithani was brand new then. I had personally chosen the colours, the pallu design and the butti motif.

It is considered auspicious to wear black for a naming ceremony .

I was very clear even back then, that my sari for that special day, had to be a Paithani! Having just finished my degree in textiles the year before, I was already head over heels in love with this amazing textile from Maharashtra!

My Paithani looked so resplendent .

In the years that followed I draped her many times for many special occasions.

Every time I draped it, she gave me the same joy and the same happy feeling.

Little did I know that every time I wore it, a new memory was silently getting woven into its silken threads.

Today, 28 years later, she looks as resplendent, as graceful and as beautiful as she did almost 3 decades ago!

As I close my eyes hold the Paithani against my cheek, I can see my son Neel, as a toddler , sitting in my lap for his ‘bor nahan ‘. My Paithani was with me, like a best friend, for that occasion.

When I unfold the Paithani to appreciate the beautiful dancing peacocks on its pallu, I fall in love with it ……again!

I smile, as I remember the compliments I receive every time I wear this saree.

How can anyone not fall in love with this beauty?

I fold it with care , as if to preserve all my memories in it .

I am awaiting eagerly to weave more magical memories into its threads.

Memories that I will pass on as a legacy to my children and their children.

Because , I know for sure, that tomorrow I maybe gone, but my paithani will be there, strong and beautiful as ever. Sharing old memories and weaving new ones into its silken yarns!

The Paithani flies high!

Did you know that one of the worlds top airlines, once wore a sari?

Way back in 1997, British airways, in an effort to break away from its stiff upper lip image, invited designs from all over the world, that they would choose to paint on the tails of their aircrafts.

A tartan checks design from Scotland, a typical Egyptian tent motif from Egypt and guess what, a traditional Paithani motif from India!

The designer who submitted this design was Meera Mehta. She chose a design that she had designed, that had then been woven by master craftsmen and had won a national award! Meera, who was 47 then, had already won awards for costume design for the film utsav.

The BA bosses were enthralled by the motif and selected it to paint it on the tails of that aircraft! So that’s story of how an aeroplane once wore a saree!!

This design , till date , is still woven by the master weavers of Yeola and they have aptly named it as the ‘British airways paithani’.

In my upcoming exhibition, you will get a chance to see, hold and even  own this masterpiece.

Fall in love with this beauty that has maintained its inherent charisma over the ages.

(Please feel free to contact me to know more about these heirloom pieces. )

The whole nine yards

The gorgeous mesmerising Paithani saree, continues to charm its admirers.

With time, its beauty never ceases, in fact, it becomes more and more captivating. The years only adding to its vintage charm.

I am sharing an article which appeared in the Femina Issue of September 2012.

Thank you Ketaki Latkar for capturing the spirit of the Paithani sari with her lovely words.

And a big shout out to Sukalp Bagade for the photographs.

Hope you enjoy it.

The eternally charming Paithani weave radiates undying panache. Ketaki Latkar, with the help of Mruga Kirloskar, fashion designer and image consultant, unravels the classic Paithani obsession. 

Photographs by Sukalp Bagde



The whole nine yards



Legacies are priceless.  Trends and bridal trousseaus are changing with time.  However, the classic Paithani sari is still an absolute must for every Maharashtrian bride.  The pilgrim towns of Paithan near Aurangabad and Yeola near Nasik are the birthplaces of the Paithani weave, from where it gets distributed all over Maharashtra.


In our land of strong mythological dictate, Paithani was believed to be born in the era spelled by the will of the Gods.  This popular belief is based on an anecdote by Goddess Parvati when she was in a state of gloom for not having anything to wear for a celestial being’s wedding.  As a result, like all good husbands, Lord Shiva, in sheer desperation, commanded the creation of an exquisite fabric from his weavers.  The result was the creation of a distinct textile woven in pure gold threads and fine silk, which with time, evolved into the charming, legendary Paithani weave.



Mruga Kirloskar, fashion designer and image consultant, has been a connoisseur and exclusive dealer of Paithani saris for more than a decade.  Mruga explains, “Any fabric is the product of three primary elements: the yarn, the dyeing process and the weave, along with embellishments (by means of printing or embroidery or both).  With regard to Paithanis, the exclusivity certainly lies in the silk and the extremely elaborate weaving process, which could take as many as 12 painstaking hours just for half an inch.”



Did you know that pure Paithani saris are marked by a silk body and gold motifs?  Mruga explains, “The motifs on the pallu and borders are etched with gold backgrounds and bear signature designs that include peacocks, parrots, lotuses, Kairior raw mangos, Asawalis (creepers) or the more detailed Bangdi-Mor(peacocks designed in circular frames).”


“With regards to Paithanis, the exclusivity certainly lies in the silk and the extremely elaborate weaving process, which could take as many as 12 painstaking hours just for half an inch.”



Markets are a labyrinth of chaotic varieties and unbridled options.  In such a scenario, recognising the authenticity of products can be a Herculean task.  Mruga helps us identify the real and untainted Paithani, “First and foremost, flip the sari over to check if the reverse side is exactly like the front, except for the knots on the yarn.  Secondly, the motifs are geometrical in nature and don’t comprise flawless turns and thread motions.  One needs to understand that the yarns are like grids on graph papers, on which designs are created by playing with the dots.”



Last but not the least, the yarn is woven in pure gold of gold-plated silver threads. A range of colours are available in the market.  The peculiarity of these saris is their signature dual or `shot’ colour schemes where two colours are interwoven in the fabric so that it looks like two colours from different angles.  The cost of an authentic Paithani would be close to the tune of Rs. 20,000/- and can go as high as Rs. 4 lakh.  Of course, economical alternatives are widely available in the market, but they are diluted adaptations of the original.”  Right from the epoch of the Peshwas, Paithanis have never failed in making the alluring and imperial statement of class and heritage.  Buying a Paithani sari is like purchasing one of MF Hussain’s works – each piece being a masterpiece in itself and each one, unique.







Paithani Magic

The story of the classic Paithani sari goes back two thousand years and despite the pressures of change, still survives, embodying the values of traditional pride, artistic dedication, indigenous culture and the eternal values of perfection.

Hold the fabric of this sari in your hands and feel it with your heart and you will realize its magic – woven with resplendent colours which glisten and dance like the feathers of a peacock.  The flowers and patterns on its pallav seem to float on a river of molten gold, transporting you back to long ago times as far back as 200 B.C. when it was considered precious in the then splendid city of Pratishthan ruled by the legendary Shalivahana (now Paithan by the Godavari in Marathawada, about fifty kilometers from Aurangabad). At that time, the city was actually a trade centre for silk and zari (gold yarn) and even exported cottons and silks to the Roman Empire. This fabric known as Paithani drew its name from the city.

At that time and after, the Paithani was exported to many countries and was traded in exchange for gold and precious stones. This tells us that the fabric was considered to be very precious.  In fact, it was so special that it even found mention in some holy texts.  There is a story in the `Mahabharata’ that when Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas, cut her finger accidentally, Lord Krishna, did not think twice before tearing a piece of his expensive `pitambara’ just to tie her bleeding finger, a proof of how much he loved Draupadi.

Because of its preciousness, the fabric and the tradition survived, supported along the way. During the time of the Moghuls, the art of weaving this sari was encouraged and patronized by Aurangzeb, around the 17thcentury.  In fact the `aurangzebi’ designs that were specially developed for him are used even today.

After the Mughals, it was the Great Peshwas who encouraged this fascinating art.  It is said that Madhavrao Peshwe, had special motifs and colour combinations designed exclusively for himself.  He wore the fabric as a stole across his shoulders.  Other Peshwas royalty also ensured that Paithani weaving flourished. Under their patronage, even Yeola, a small town near Nashik, became as important as Paithan.  It was the Peshwas who encouraged a feeling of pride in Paithani among Maharashtrians.

Gradually, the magic of the Paithani slowly spread to neighbouring regions and even the Nizam of Hyderabad came under its spell. Special motifs were created to suit the tastes of the Paithani’s new found admirers.

With the coming of the British Raj the art of the Paithani suffered a setback perhaps in the same way that numerous other traditional arts and crafts in the country.  But the tradition persisted in its own way.  The weavers from Yeola kept this art alive by developing their own weaving techniques, similar to the Paithani weave.  The `yeola shaloo’ or the bridal sari, was created by these weavers. This was the slightly cheaper version of the Paithani.  The craftsmen from Paithan too slowly migrated to Yeola and set up looms there.

It is because of the dedication and faith of weavers that this tradition has been kept alive for more than two thousand years.  Today, Yeola has become the main centre for Paithani weaving, although the sari has still retained the name that it derived from its birthplace.  A garment for ladies and the Pitambara, the yellow cloth are the two types in which the Paithani is made today.

Originally woven with cotton yarn, the Paithani was produced as required.  Because of this, each piece was embellished with motifs that were chosen by the individual for a specific occasion. Then, as the demand and admiration for this sari increased, silk yarn was introduced for the borders and pallavs.  In the earlier times the zari was drawn from pure gold.  This gave it a classic dignity and saved it from garishness.  However, nowadays, silver has become the affordable substitute. The zari comes from Surat, the resham(silk) from Bangalore.

Even today, the typical Paithani sari is made only with the finest quality silk yarn with pure zari interwoven in its borders and pallav(end piece).  The two tone three dimensional effect in the main body of the sari is achieved by using two different colours in the lengthwise (warp) and width (weft) wise weaving.

What really sets the Paithani apart is its unique weaving technique.  The entire process, from dyeing of the yarn to weaving, is done by hand.  Dyes are mostly vegetable based and are extracted from sources like flowers, tree bark and leaves.  Hand looms are used to weave the main body of the sari.  The weaving process of the pallav and borders is similar to the tapestry weaving technique, which is one of the most ancient weaving techniques in the world.  And of course because of the uniqueness of the sari, the silk that is used is extremely fine and delicate.

The process of creating designs and motifs is also unusual. The motifs are created by interlocking and tying the coloured threads to the warp (lengthwise threads) on the loom. In fact, the reverse side of the design is almost identical to the right side.  These patterns literally seem as if they have been inlaid into the main fabric.

The designs are first drawn by the master craftsman on graph paper in exactly the same way that it had been done for centuries. This is why the patterns seen geometrical in nature.  Each weaver refers to this paper and expresses this design on the sari.  Every craftsman has own style of weaving that is as unique as his own thumbprint, thus adding to the character of this beautiful sari.

Each motif and every colour requires the weaver to use a separate `kakda’ (Spool).  This process is tedious and time consuming.  So, sometimes, a single sari can sometimes take up to two years to weave.

The motifs that are used to embellish the borders and the pallavsare inspired by the traditional forms.  Due to Paithani’s proximity to the Ajanta caves, some motifs like to the lotus, the triple bird and the seated Buddha seem to have been inspired by their paintings.  The Buddha motif is perhaps the only human motif used in the pallav and that is surprising as Pathani saris were first used for the decoration of Hindu gods and then taken up by the Hindu women.

Many of these designs are found on the border and pallav in different shapes and sizes.  Nowadays, the most popular ones are the mor (peacock) bangadi mor (peacock in a bangle), kairi (paisley), asavali  (flowering creeper), kamal (lotus), panja and tota maina , muniya (parrot).  The names of certain Paithanis are also based on their colours.  A black Paithani with a red border is called `Kalichandrakala’, the `Raghu’ is a parrot green sari and the gorgeous pure white Paithani is the `Shirodak’.

The harmony between the design of the borders and the overall colour is important, so this influences the combination to be used even before the creation starts.  The main traditional colours used are neeligunji (blue), pasila (red and green), gujri (black and white), mirani( black and red), motiya (pink), kusumbi (purplish red) and pophali (yellow).  Interestingly these combinations have remained the same over the last two hundred years.

The main body of the sari is decorated with `buttis’ (small motifs) like circles, stars, paisley, chandrakor (half moon) `mor’ (peacocks), tara (s tar), popat (parrot), kuyri (mango), rui phool (flower), paisa (coin), pankha (fan), kalas pakli (urn and petal), kamal (lotus), chandrakor (moon), narli (coconut).  The denser these motifs, the longer the weaver takes to complete the sari.  Sometimes nearly as many as nine hundred such buttis are woven along the entire length of the sari.

The charm of the Paithani sari lies in its pallav or end piece.  The unique fact about the pallav is that it is `reversible’ ,with the same design seen on both sides unlike in other saris where the pallav has only one side. It is woven entirely in gold and silk threads that are packed so close together that when worn; it seems as if sheet of beaten gold is draped on the shoulder.

However, it is the slow weaving process and the rising gold prices that could be the nemesis of the Paithani.  In the face of mechanization and the changing economic situation, this tradition has to fight for survival.  And the fight has not been an easy one, with change dramatically affecting Paithani weavers.  Over the years the weaving activity has grown weaker.  In fact, many of the second generation weavers have taken up other professions or have migrated, and have adopted the styles and techniques of the places they have settled in.

The price of Paithanis range from five thousand to five lakh rupees.  The more expensive saris are woven only on demand.  So in order to produce affordable saris, weavers use cheaper silk and artificial zari.  Designs are made by `jacquard’ and `dobby’ weaving techniques which are both cheaper and faster.  Unfortunately, in the process, the original Paithani has been overtaken by poor imitations and so the laypersons no longer knows what the authentic Paithani looks like. The market is flooded with spurious fabric, as cheap as two thousand rupees, which lacks quality, texture and durability and most of all the classic spirit.

In order to revive this craft, the Paithani Training and Production Centre was established at Paithan in 1968 by the MSSIDC (Maharashtra State Small Scale Industry Development Corporation) with an intention to promote the weaving of the Paithani.  Designers now help weavers to diversify their art in order to attract new admires for the Paithani.  Wall hangings, dress fabric, shawls, stoles, sari borders are also being made using basic Paithani techniques.  These products are sold at various Government run retail stores in areas which attract tourists.  One hopes that these effort coupled with the enduring grace of the Paithani will surely help to keep the tradition alive.

The Paihtani of Maharashtra is not a just silk sari of gorgeous colours, intricate design and painstaking labour.  Such is the love for the Paithani that not a single Maharashtrian brides’ trousseau is complete without a Paithani sari and a shela (stole), the best that the family can afford.  It is passed on from generation to generation and cherished as an heirloom.  When the new bride drapes this heirloom on her shoulders, she feels a connection with her ancestors and is reassured that their blessings are with her.  The magic has been passed on.

Although they seem fragile, Paithanis are extremely durable. Some are known to last for up to two hundred years.  And even when the silk finally wears out, the border and the pallavof a true Paithani may be burned to leave a ball of solid gold…..the parting gift of a gracious sari.

The story of this fabric is alive with traditional pride, artistic dedication, indigenous culture and the eternal values of perfection. It speaks in the language of aesthetics which has been nurtured by centuries of artistic experience alive with a magical glow of inspiration.

Pictured above is our radiant bride Nikita Kirloskar Mohite. She is wearing a traditional yellow Paithani that all maharashtrian brides wear at the time of the wedding muhurat. The Paithani has a border of ‘bangadi mor ‘ and had ‘paisa butti ‘ all over the main body. On her shoulders is a ‘shela’ or a stole that is given to her by the groom’s family, symbolising the bride being welcomed into his family. The shela has a border of flowers and creepers ( asavali motif) .


Buy what you need, want what you have.

 Hello Friends,

I do hope that you have read my earlier posts about the four A’s of image management.

Today I will discuss the importance of the fourth A.

The last and perhaps the crucial A stands for Affordability.

We live in weird and wonderful times. We have unlimited access to information at our finger tips. We are inundated with information on subjects that sometimes we are not even aware of. This barrage of information can be both intimidating and overwhelming.

Individuals are posting pictures of themselves on social media minute by minute. A new outfit may get you a lot of likes, but the downside is that you almost can never repeat it, simply because too many people have seen it. Isn’t it weird and amusing?

 Social media influencers and celebrities are posting brand new designer looks by the minute. Most often we fall into the trap of comparing our own wardrobes and looks, with these unrealistic standards.

 While it is easy to fall into this trap, one must remember that these posts have to be viewed as inspiration and not as an expectation.

The reality I am guessing, is the same for all of us, is that we are always on a budget. 

Our image management has to be Affordable, in order to sustain it and implement it. (apart from being Attractive, Authentic and Appropriate.)

 To help you achieve this seemingly impossible task, I have given a few tips to create the perfect image for you, without breaking the bank.


1)   Take an inventory

Take a good look at your clothes and accessories. Separate and categorize them as per their style (e.g. one piece dresses, tops, skirts, bottoms etc.). This is a very crucial part of the process. You may discover forgotten items that you have not worn for over a year, and maybe few items of clothing that are your favorite ‘go to’ pieces that you keep repeating often.

Ruthlessly discard anything that you have not worn for more that two years. Sort out items that need alterations or repairs. Be honest and unemotional with this exercise. Once you have taken out the old, you can make place for the new.

2)   Create a strategy for your shopping plan.

Look for gaps in your wardrobe that need to be filled. For example, you may discover that you do not have a pair of well-fitted boot cut jeans. Or you may realize that you do not have a casual blazer. Make a note of these items and allocate a budget for this and stick to the plan. Look for ideas and inspiration on Pinterest or similar websites and create a ‘mood board’ for yourself. This will help you shop for the look that you are trying to achieve.


3)   Shop for classic pieces.

 While building your wardrobe, start by shopping for classics. Classics are those items of clothing or accessories that are the foundation pieces of your collection and they never go out of style. Some examples of classics are the little black dress (LBD), blue jeans, white shirt, denim jacket, black formal skirt / trouser, a string of pearls, solitaires, formal black / navy blazer ). 

In the case of indian wear, classic pieces could  include any tradional authentic indian saree. It could be a paithani, a kanjeevaram, a banarasi silk, a bandhani saree etc. For men, it is the bandhgala, or a pair of jodhpurs or a sleeveless bundi jacket. A beautiful jamewar shawl can also be termed as a classic item in your wardrobe.

While buying classic pieces, ensure that they are made of sturdy fabric and material and that they have an excellent finish.

Classics are timeless, they give more value for money and can be repeated many times.  Occasionally even from one generation to the other. They look classy and project a very evolved and refined image .

4)   Be patient. 

A well curated wardrobe takes time and it evolves over years. It takes ample time and consideration to collect quality goods. Slow and steady always wins the style race. Build your wardrobe piece-by-piece, adding accent pieces to it once your foundation pieces and classic pieces are in place. Assess your wardrobe needs based on the season, your lifestyle and age, and keep tweaking your collection. Please remember, the process in constant and ongoing. Enjoy the journey; don’t be in a hurry to reach the destination!


Another great way to get more mileage and value for money from your clothes, is by clustering them.

A cluster is a collection of clothes and accessories, which when combined in a harmonious manner, look pleasant on a person.

A cluster is open ended and dynamic. Which means that you can add or delete an item from a cluster as per your changing lifestyle or current trends.

Clustering of clothes can be done with your existing wardrobe too, which means that it needs minimal shopping and loads of imagination.

A typical cluster might include the following

·      A top

·      A skirt

·      Blue jeans

·      Dark jeand

·      Formal trouser

·      Formal blazer

·      Formal dress

·      Casual dress

·      Fancy High heels

·      Flat shoes/ fancy sandals

·      Sports shoes

·      A scarf

·      A black / tan hand bag

·      A small cross body bag

·      Wrist watch

·      Pair of pearl ear studs

·      Neck chain

·      Fancy neck piece


In the above cluster, the top could be worn with jeans as well as a skirt. The denim jacket could be worn over a casual dress or teamed with the blue jeans. We can keep adding new items to this cluster, for example, we could add a kurti / tunic to be worn with the jeans etc.

 We could have different clusters based on the occasion . Example: a work wear cluster, beach wear cluster, holiday cluster.

 Apart from creating many options of mix and match from your current wardrobe, clustering can help you to save huge amounts of money without ever having to repeat an outfit plus you will never hear yourself say “ I have nothing to wear’!!

 As you become more observant, aware and experienced, you will become more fluent in creating clusters according to the theme or the occasion. 


Clustering of clothes can be challenging at first , but trust me, it’s a lot of fun too!

Clustering helps you to avoid impulsive shopping decisions. Your creativity is enhanced. Life just becomes so simple, sorted and beautiful!!

So, there you are. Now you are armed with the powerful 4 A’s of image management.

Do you feel empowered to take charge of your own image?

Would you like me to share tips on how to cluster your clothes and accessories? Do let me know. Do you have any other questions? Feel free to ask me.

Till the next post, stay happy , healthy and positive !

Credits- cartoon by Cassandra Calin.