On the second day of the Goa Arts and Literature Festival (GALF), photographer Assavri Kulkarni presented a talk on ‘Amchem Daiz: The Kunbi Saree’ where she spoke about her efforts to take the kunbi saree to the world through her photography.
She said it is her belief that photography was a powerful medium and with the help of her pictures she is trying to take it to the world.
Kulkarni presented various photographs consisting of two sets -- one which she captured of the kunbi women and others which she captured during pre-planned photoshoot.
She said, "I've captured women of the kunbi community and also women who have established themselves in their respective fields and made a name for themselves. These women are shown wearing the kunbi saree."
DRAPING THE SAREE
Kulkarni added that during the photoshoot, women had the liberty to wear the saree with or without a blouse. "The kunbi saree is often worn without a blouse. Historian Heta Pandit, who features in my work, was one among the many who chose to wear it without a blouse. Other chose to drape the saree in the style they were comfortable in," Kulkarni said.
Most of the women, who Kulkarni photographed, were never part of a real photoshoot. Kulkarni's objective was to make them look good so that they would feel good wearing the kunbi saree which is an inherent part of Goa's heritage.
THE KUNBI COMMUNITY
Speaking about the Goan kunbis, she said the community is made up of hardworking people who work on farms and do not mind dirtying their hands at manual labour.
"You will often find them wearing red-coloured saree with a white chequered lines without the blouse. But, nowadays, they wear puffed sleeves white blouses," she added.
THE PHOTOS & THE STORY
During her presentation, Kulkarni spoke about various colours of kunbi saree that have become popular in today's time. "You can find kunbi saree in blue, black and other colours today. Black often resembles mourning or death," explained Kulkarni.
Kulkarni, who has 20 years of experience in photography, spoke in detail about a photograph wherein a woman of the kunbi community is shown holding her hands near the face.
Explaining the story behind the photograph, she said, “The women of these community are hardworking and you realise it when you see their hands. They don’t apply any nail polish.”
THE ABOLI FLOWER
The 'aboli' flower is synonymous with this community. Reason: Most of the times, women are seen wearing aboli flowers on their head. Kulkarni explains that she captured a photograph wherein a women is showing holding her bun which has the aboli flowers around it in order to bring out the real essence.
She ended the session by showcasing a photograph that she had captured of kunbi community woman in the year 1999. The photographer has been actively working at highlighting this fading heritage of Goa, the kunbi saree.