By: Tanuja Desai Hidier
The Vendée Mataram (AKA Counter-Revolutionary) Drape—so named as I donned this sari in La Vendée: motherland of my jeevansaathi and French family, as well as site of the counter-revolutionary insurrections during the French Revolution, during which time thousands of men, women, and children in this part of France—including members of our own family–were massacred at the hands of the French army for fighting to preserve their freedom in religious choice and other matters. I am very proud to be connected to this region—and particularly to be a part of my Vendéen family. This drape is dedicated to them, and is especially in loving memory of my belle-mère and beau-père (my in-laws—but the French translation is a much nicer and more accurate way of putting it, as they were truly beautiful and brave people). The photos were taken in the garden of my cousine Anne-Marie next door to the family home. The coffee grinder belonged to the parents of my belle-mère, and in one of the photos I’m wearing the double-hearts of La Vendée. I find this symbol particularly resonant for me, as in this union with my own life partner we have brought together two cultures, countries (actually, more than that), and families–and have produced two children as well! This theme of double-heartedness, of cultural—and personal–fusions (and, at times, confusions!) is one I’ve explored in both my novels and music….and will likely continue to explore as, as with a sari, there are endless layers to the telling of this tale. For the Counter-Revolutionary Drape: The fabric that would normally have been pleated into the throw I wrapped–literally in a counter-revolution!–around my chest, lining up the gold border with the borders on the choli/blouse. I then brought the next stretch of fabric around my waist, lining up the borders once again. Next, I brought the fabric diagonally down and around my hips and upper legs –again, as in Week 1, securing it with a paper clip (which you can see in one of the shots!). The remaining fabric is brought around the lower legs and the border round to encircle the ankles and feet (I wore black leggings rather than a petticoat for this one), lining up with the top two gold chest and waist bands. Vendée Mataram, I salute thee!