Wedding season is here and this means that women all over India are looking for some amazing retail outlets to buy the best ethnic wear. However, not every woman has the luxury to buy those beautiful sarees as they are not affordable for everyone.
Even though these are unaffordable at times but women still dream of walking in this six yards of elegance. So, what is the solution for this?
A saree library at Malhar Point on Vadodra’s Old Padra Road in Gujarat lets women from all income groups rent sarees at nominal costs. They can rent three sarees in one go and keep them for five days.
Story Behind The Initiative
This great initiative, Ashta Saheli is taken by eight friends and it all started in June 2020.
Hema Chauhan, founder of Ashta Saheli tells The Better India that, “Last summer, my house help said she’d be leaving town for a few days to attend her brother-in-law’s wedding. She mentioned how she wanted to wear something nice but didn’t have the money to buy anything new. I ended up lending her a chanya choli. She said everybody in her family was impressed with her attire and kept asking where she’d bought it. She liked it so much that I never asked for it back.”
She further added that “That’s when It first struck me that most of us have ethnic wear that we’ve worn only once or twice. I got in touch with my friends and we decided to do something for the women who can’t afford to make such costly purchases, or simply don’t have the time to shop. We began the library by donating five outfits each from our collections.”
Along with Hema, the Ashta Saheli Group consists of Sadhna Shah, Gopi Patel, Neela Shah, Rita Vithlani, Parul Parikh, Nilima Shah and Twinkal Patel.
The library is open from 3 pm to 6 pm and each woman works only for two days at a time. They also receive help from a couple who runs a salon next door.
Along with this, they have received donations not only from Vadodara but also from Metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Delhi.
Foundation Of Faith
While renting an ethnic piece, the customer has to submit a token money of Rs. 500 which is returned excluding the money for dry cleaning which is also not much.
When it comes to tracking the borrowings, then it is all based on faith. Hema Chauhan teels The Better India that, “Bharosa ek aisi cheez hai jo lakdi ki naav ko bhi sona bana deti hai (Trust can turn even a wooden boat golden). We don’t maintain a record of these women’s phone numbers or addresses, but we do keep a picture of their Aadhar cards. There have been times that they have forgotten it at home, but we lend the pieces anyway. By God’s grace, nobody has ever tried to take advantage of us.”
Love, Connection And Support
Amid the horrors of the pandemic, the Ashta Saheli Group’s motto is “love, connection and support”.
To lift the spirits of people during this time, they started a few initiatives. Hema shares, “We started posting a couple of motivational videos, which received a lot of good responses. Then, we approached retired IAS officer and family friend, Bhagyesh Jha, for weekly religious lectures, and also reached out to local musicians for bhajan sessions.”
Over time, about 350 Vadodara based women spanning from ages 25 to 75 have joined the community. Most of them are homemakers and these women help in organising spiritual and cultural events, aside from engaging in community welfare.
For more such stories, stay tuned to HerZindagi!
Did you like this article ?
Your skin and body like you are unique. While we have taken all measures to ensure that the information provided in this article and on our social media channels is credible and expert verified, we recommend you consult a doctor or your dermatologist before trying a home remedy, quick hack or exercise regime. For any feedback or complaint, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org