The Autumn Post

We are kind of heading towards autumn in India. Less marked by weather and more by festivals these days. So a little bit about the kuṟiñci, an autumnal flower, that bloomed in some parts of the South this year.

krThe poems that are set in the autumn months are remarkably consistent in imagery and in resulting mood.  In the Sanskrit and Prakrit poems, the monsoon has ended, the skies have cleared, and the whole world is cool and washed clean, leaving the poets with a fresh emotional canvas. The Tamil poems set in the autumn months are composed in the kuṟiñci (conehead flower) landscape, the one appropriate to love-in-union and more especially to love that is kalavu (stolen, clandestine) and not yet legitimized by formal marriage. These poems are set by convention in the hills, and even though the heavy rains of the monsoon have ended, the poets who composed poems in this context still draw on rainy, misty imagery set against the dense darkness of midnight. The Circle of Six Seasons, A Selection from Old Tamil, Prakrit and Sanskrit Poetry.

The Kuṟiñci (குறிஞ்சி) is a shrub that flowers once in twelve years.  This year is one of them.  It is often associated with autumn (शरद्) by way of the season’s association with the kuṟiñci poetic mode. In general what is referred to is the neelakuṟiñci (blue kuṟiñci).

Kuṟiñci painting by Remya Kumar.

Neelakuṟiñci up close.

The 1970s Recap

Wrapped up the 1970s on tumblr: 1970s, sari history, fashion history.

Jaya-Bhaduri-in-Piya-Ka-GharAnd a very random round up of the decade it was:

Indira Gandhi was elected Prime Minister with a decisive majority in 1971.

The same year the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.  Subsequently the Simla Agreement took place (the young Benzair Bhutto in Simla).

The Shillong Accord took place in 1975.

Nav Nirman, the Bihar Movement and the Chipko Movement all began in 1974.

Emergency was declared on 25 June 1975. It led to the arrest of many of India’s leaders.  The Emergency is a well documented period in Indian history e.g. the compulsory sterilisation program of the years, the killings at Turkman Gate, the Rajan case and the incarceration and death of Snehlata Reddy.

The lifting of Emergency in 1977 was followed by a general election which led to a new government, the first time Congress lost power after Independence. Parliament was however dissolved in 1979 and Indira Gandhi was back as Prime Minister in 1980. The same year Sanjay Gandhi was killed in an aircrash.

The Marichjhapi incident took place in 1979. The incident is referenced in Amitava Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide.

The Samba Spy Scandal also took place in 1978-1979.

MISA and COFEPOSA were the 1970s best known acronyms.

India conducted its first nuclear weapon explosion in 1974. Aryabhata was India’s first satellite followed by Bhaskara in 1979.

In 1978 the Sarda Act was amended to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 for girls and 21 for boys.

The Mathura rape case in 1972 led to amendments in laws pertaining to rape, albeit only by 1983.

The crash of Air India 855 was the biggest in Indian aviation history until the 90s.  The Morbi dam disaster took place in 1979.

India won the hockey World Cup in 1975.

Amar Chitra Katha’s major titles date back to the 70s.

Though the 1970s started with the “King of Romance”, Rajesh Khanna by the end of the decade Amitabh Bachchan, the Angry Young Man persona and Sholay had all happened.

Apparently Panna Dossa was the big cheese of sari fashion in the 1970s. She started a sari store called Kalindi and designed saris for Indira Gandhi (opinions vary wildly on her as a politician but sartorially she rarely put a foot wrong) but I can’t find much else on her.

70s: The decade of innocence.


Plucky Girl

Sanskrit poetry is so often full of lovelorn ladies unable to bear separation from the hero (Virahotkanthita Nayika). And this recurs often in those Radha-Krishna paintings. And of course Hindi cinema is full of “viraha” songs.  But none of that for this 7th/8th century lady in the Amaru Shataka (translated as Erotic Love Poems from India) going her own way.

The 1960s in India.

In no specific order:

The decade started with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister and ended with Indira Gandhi as the PM.  From 1964-1966, we had Lal Bahadur Shastri (pictured here in 1964) as the Prime Minister.

In 1961 Goa was annexed becoming India’s 21st state. Portuguese enclaves like Daman & Diu also became a part of India as Union Territories.

The country was at war twice in the decade: The Sino-Indian war of 1962  and the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965.

Shastri was responsible for the Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan slogan of the 1960s.  Shastri’s visit to Amul was the first step in Operation Flood aka White Revolution that began in the 1960s and was intended to make India milk-sufficient. Per this link the Amul Girl was born in 1966.

Around 1961-1963 also saw the introduction of high yielding rice and wheat in India (see Green Revolution).  Part of agricultural policy post this decade was also a result of the Bihar famine of 1966-67.

The banks were nationalised in 1969.

The Naxalbari uprising took place in 1967.

The Dhori colliery disaster took place in 1965. It is listed amongst the world’s worst mine accidents.

Hindi was declared the official language of the nation in 1965 for all government transactions. Following anti-Hindi riots, English was adopted as an associate language in the same year.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad qas founded in 1964, the Shiv Sena in 1967.

The National Institute of Design was set up in 1961 subsequent to The India Report (by Charles and Ray Eames) in 1958.

The State of Art in 1960s India.

Reita Faria becomes the first Indian woman to win an international beauty pageant.

The fashions you have already seen.  The big stars of the decade – Sadhana, Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore, Saira Banu et al – sported tightly draped saris, tightly draped churidar-kameez, big hair, pale lips and dramatic eye make-up. The Sadhana fringe was a bonafide craze. Sharmila Tagore rocked a bikini. And there was Helen, the cabaret queen of the country.

Ray, Ghatak and Mrinal Sen worked through the 60s but by the end of the decade you see the beginnings of the parallel cinema movement of the 70s and 80s in films like Gejje Pooje, Sara Akash etc with Bhuvan Shome being a commercial success. [X]

Ads from the 60s in India and Pakistan – X, X, X

Rock in the 60s. The Sri Lankans visit. And the Beatles in India.

A general sum up of the decade through foreign eyes.

1960s. Sari History.

The 1960s in Film – Love in Tokyo (1966)

Love in Tokyo (1966) hardly needs any introduction. It’s the kind of frothy romance set in an exotic foreign locale (or at the very least Kashmir) that the 1960s specialised in. Naturally the leads are in their 60s best. With some curious Tokyo induced diversions.

Asha (Asha Parekh) wears a number of pastel coloured saris with elaborate embroidered borders. All very 60s.  These are teamed with fitted long sleeved blouses which are also common in the 1960s.  A similar combo, albeit with all over pattern, for Lata Bose (last panel).

It’s past the mid point of the 1960s, there is no way Asha wasn’t wearing a tight-fitted churidar-kameez.

Some other details: the eye make-up, the danglers(pic 1), the red sari and sleeveless blouse accessorised with an arm bracelet (pic 2), the back buttons on the blouse (pic 3) and the sari cape (pic 4 and 5). Neat hair ornament (pic 6). And pic 7, I don’t know what that is except that Asha seems to lounge around in while reading letters.   And of course there was the love in tokyo hair bands though they seem to have passed me by.

Asha wore a pillbox hat.

I wasn’t sure whether she was Chinese or Japanese,  we got both the cheongsam and kimono.  Further the cheongsam was worn with a kimono cape which is like way ahead of its times given its 2014 avatar (I kid).  To show us they are in Japan, Mehmood dressed as a geisha but we will NEVER SPEAK OF THAT AGAIN.

lt9 lt13Ashok (Joy Mukherjee) was the perfect chocolate hero in a suit and a 60s tee.


The piece de resistance? Surely Asha’s sari-wrap which predates the Mumtaz version by two years. It seems to be pretty much a stitched version of the sari. Also we see yet again sleeveless blouse=arm bracelet.

I don’t think Love in Tokyo resulted in a sari-kimono (still waiting for that day) but it’s clothing certainly captures the slightly frivolous, cheerful nature of 1960s fashions.


The 1960s in Film – Kadhalikka Neramillai (1964)

Kadhalikka Neramillai (is a 1964 Tamil film. Given that it’s heroines are a pair of wealthy young girls you get plenty of 1960s fashions with a dash of the 1950s. Saris, salwars, slacks and half-saris all make an appearance.

The older girl is Kanchana (played by Kanchana who was a stylish, glamorous star of 1960s Tamil cinema). Some of her saris evoke the changing nature of traditional saris with each decade – an emphasis on the border, a longer blouse sleeve and the like.  E.g. the pale blue sari. While the plain, translucent sari has echoes of the 1950s. She also wears a few salwar-kameez outifts teamed with some extremely diaphanous dupattas – for some reason this movie is a little light on the churidars of the 1960s. I like the neck detail of her purple and mustard kameez in the last but one panel below.  And the odd trouser ensemble with an on trend scarf for the hair. Due to the nature of the role, her love interest Vasu (played by Muthuraman) has a fair bit of Indian clothes on, including a dhoti-kurta (last panel).

The younger girl, Nirmala (played by Rajasree) is more fashion forward and she has a lot of lovely outfits.  Lots of salwar-kameez, slacks, the half-sari and the odd sari. What looks like a white sari is also a half-sari, albeit in a kind familiar from the 1960s, pale coloured saris with an embroidered border.  The purple horizontal stripe kurta is also very 60s. Though the plait and ribbons, the blouse with a neck border (pic 7) -still channelling the 50s! Her love interest, Ashok (played by Ravichandran), is no slouch in the fashion department himself. Check out the red tee and the shoes!

A bit more of the sisters together.

A smaller role includes an aspiring actress in modest circumstances (played by Sachu). Bar a dress for an audition, it’s all quite traditional South India.

This movie is like a catalogue of 1960s half-sarees.

And the 1960s wedding picture.

kn64So if you want to do a 1960s Tamil cinema fashion homage or just recreate a whole bunch of 1960s half-sarees look further than Kadhalikka Neramillai. And if you want a later film, there is always Adhey Kangal.