Maa’s collection of gold zari saris is a treasure I always had my heart set on. Handcrafted by the finest karigars of Kanchipuram, all her saris feature intricate gold detailing that lends an almost magical touch to them. My favourite from her collection is the purple kanjivaram with pure gold zari work on the pallu. Every time maa opens the trunk and carefully unwraps the sari from the muslin cloth with dried neem leaves, I can’t help but imagine myself in it. She always says she’d pass it down to me when I get married, along with gold jewellery that she’s been collecting for me over the years.
As I wonder why mother attaches such a sentimental importance to gold, I do what most people my generation are conditioned to do. A quick Google search later, I learn that gold has always been central to our country, culture, and tradition. The precious metal symbolises purity and prosperity in an Indian home. When women in India purchase, save and pass down jewellery, the gesture is twofold— the heirloom represents memories and a gift of prosperity for the future generation.
At the end of the day, the gold jhumkas nani passed down to maa embody a fragment of their relationship. Maa often wears them in nani’s memory, and narrates an anecdote that all of us have come to remember by heart. The story keeps getting old – but the emotion is timeless, just like her gilded hand-me-downs.
In fact, I remember nani always wore a gold chain around her neck, paired with a very plain, white kora sari. I asked her why she never takes it off and her answer was simple. She wore the gold chain due to its relevance in ancient rituals. According to Ayurveda, gold possesses the properties that boost our immunity. Being a soft metal, it is easily absorbed by the skin, keeping it flawless and young
I connected the dots, and realised how she revered gold in more ways than one. Her staple was the ‘Solid Gold’ i.e., turmeric—a natural anti-oxidant and immunity booster, which she sipped as haldi doodh blend with Saffron- that adds a golden radiance in any skincare product, every night before bed. Maa incorporates Gold in her beauty ritual, as she uses the Forest Essentials' Soundarya Radiance Cream, infused with 24K gold along with a balanced mix of precious herbs.
Minutes later, a string of mails jolt me out of my reverie, but I choose to go back in time. As I revisit maa’s trunk, reimagine the scent of my favourite sari and run my hands through the delicate gold pallu – there I have it, a ‘nani anecdote’ for my daughter.