‘What is this place you have sent me to??!’
‘Where are you?’
‘I’ve just bought some Sarees, and they won’t give them to me…’
‘…they are worshiping them!’
My Saree loving friend was visiting Chennai, and when we caught up our conversation, but naturally, veered towards shopping. ‘You are in the right city’ I smugly told her, adding ‘Chennai is THE place to shop for the best sarees.’
I shared the names of my favourite stores with her and she was super excited to go shopping. The next morning I got the above mentioned frantic phone call from her. The thing is, I had told my friend where to buy and what to buy, I had just forgotten to add what to expect at a Saree Store.
In Chennai they just don’t bag your Saree and hand it over to you when you purchase it.
The purchased Saree/ Sarees are placed before a Picture or Idol of God. A packet of Haldi Kumkum, a Betel Leaf, an Areca Nut (Supari) and a string of fragrant Jasmine is placed on it. The Saree is ‘blessed’ by a prayer being said for it, ‘May you always wear this in auspicious times’, and then for you too. Only after this rite is the Saree handed to you. This ritual is conducted by an in-house priest hired by the store for this purpose.
The first time I experienced this, my reaction was much like my friends was. I kept turning to my Husband asking him what was going on. Now I look forward to this little ritual, and love it. Being blessed is always a good thing, isn’t it?
I don’t know if this ritual takes place in every saree store, but it does where I shop. If you want to experience it, I’ll tell you where to go.
If you are shopping in Chennai you must shop for Silver too.
Puja items (especially the Deepams / Diyas), Gift Items and Jewellery top my list. I have a special affinity for the Toe Rings available here. The designs are mind boggling and the toe rings mould themselves to my toe. I wear them 24*7 and they are so comfortable, that I forget I am wearing them!
I have found the quality of Silver available in Chennai to be far superior than the other cities I have purchased it from. And oh, the designs and the intricate craftsmanship! Over the years I have realised that the Silver here not only retains its shine but is easy to maintain as well.
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