Fashion and Tradition
Rightly quoted by Bill Cunningham , " Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life." Apart from one's qualification , designation and family background , fashion is the epitome of one's status symbol.
No doubt, at times, appearances may be deceptive and that one can't judge a book by it's cover, but we can't deny the fact that fashion has a key role to play in our lives.
When it comes to the regional fashion , Mithilanchal undoubtedly lags nowhere behind.
Having an honorary history and a prosperous present in terms of fashion, Mithilanchal incredibly possesses a wide range of collection which makes it a rich and efficient 'fashion hub.'
Starting from the headgear, Paag being the cultural symbol of Milthilanchal , features dignity and pride and is mainly worn by men.
Traditionally Paag is found in 3 major colours-Dark pink , Mustard yellow and White , each having it's own significance. The dark pink is carried by the bridegroom and by the ones undergoing holy rituals. Paag of mustard colour is worn by those attending wedding and Thread ceremony (Janew) and white is carried by the elders.
As said by Valli , "The hardest thing in fashion is not to be known for a logo but to be known for a silhouette." Therefore, the fashion arena tends to reinvigorate itself with the passage of time. In this context , the Mithila Art on various fabrics , Tussar silk being the most important , has uplifted the true colours of Mithilanchal and its heritage.
Mithila Painting also known as Bhitti Chitra and Madhubani Painting, dated back about 2500 years ago and has it's centre of excellence in Madhubani, Bihar. As mentioned earlier, the rejuvenation process of the traditional fashion has geared up it's speed with time.
The epoch of Mithila painted sarees is back to the ground as the new unceasing trend and thus it finds place among the most celebrated preferences in the market. Not just the Sarees , but the eye catching ruffled blouses, the elegant hand painted skirts, the trendy Dhoti pants and the evergreen Kurtas are inflated in demand. The prosperous land of Mithila, thus has billions of resources and zillions of opportunities. All we need to do is to utilize them efficiently to their maximum potential , aiming 'end to end utility' i.e, a reasonable profit to both Producer and Consumer.
Paag : The Pride of Maithils
Paag : The Pride of Maithils
Paag , the traditional headgear of Mithilanchal has been dated back from the pre-historic India . Earlier, it was believed to be made of plant leaves. Paag , being the cultural symbol of Mithila , features pride and dignity and is mainly worn by men on different occasions and festivals .
Pugg, Pagdi , Pheta , Safa, Turban , skull cap,all these are indistinguishable from Paag , in different regions of India
Traditionally, the Paag is found in three different colours ( dark pink, mustard,white) having its own significance. The dark pink is carried by the bridegroom and by the ones undergoing festive and wedding rituals. Paag of mustard colour is worn by those attending wedding and thread ceremony ( Janew) and last but not the least, white is carried by the elders. Apart from these three colours , customized paags and Mithila-painted paags are highly in vogue.
Colleges and universities in the Mithila region add Paag in the compulsory dress code for convocation as an initiative to revive the cultural symbols of Mithilanchal. 'Paag Bachau Abhiyan' 2016 , a regional campaign aiming to draw the attentions of regionals towards the fading colours of Maithili culture and heritage , was promoted by Dr.Birbal Jha , acclaimed author and chairman of Mithilalok Foundation.
10th February, 2017 came up to be a red lettered day as the Indian Posts released a set of 16 celebrative postage stamps on different headgears of India and Paag was one among them.
As another matter of fact , the popular Macmillan dictionary in 2019 , featured the traditional headgear of Mithilanchal.
As a matter of fact, the identity of Paag has shrunk to an ' occassional headgear ' rather than the 'traditional headgear' of Mithilanchal. It's usage has been declining with the passage of time and thus limited to special occasions like thread ceremonies and weddings , which is disheartening. Each one of us aspire to expand one's stems and grow but keeping in mind ,
the intactness of our deep healthy roots. Therefore we need to evoke the spirit of healthy regionalism in ourselves in order to strengthen our roots by reviving our culture and heritage.
Like any other amazing and alluring looks of Mithila the bridal look of Mithila is indispensable in its own way. The Shringaar (body adornments) that women carry in Mithila is called Psaahin. It's such an amazing part of Mithila’s culture, yet unknown to many and is extremely rare to find out.
Today in our modern world, where we are connecting with people throughout the globe and getting influenced by their way of look, food and living habits, somewhere we are losing our own form of living. There are many such rituals and traditions which have great values inherited in it . The varied colour of our own India is losing it's bliss, somewhere in this modern world.
Psaahin is one such live example of extinctive form of our tradition. When we talk about a whole bridal look we get a picturesque image of Bengali, Punjabi, Mahrastrian or other brides in our mind, but very few get a picture of Maithil bride, infact most of us aren’t aware of it or more precisely, we simply don’t know if it even exists! We do whatever we see around us or whatever is more highlighted in our T.V programmes and movies. We are so humble that we embrace every culture but when it comes to our own we lag behind. This irresponsibility can cause even the most powerful and distinctive culture to extinction.
When we look into the origin of Psaahin, we find out that this look was first carried by Lakhima Devi ( a royal princess of Mithila ) but it is only when we dive deeper we get to know that,when Sita first met Ram in Ashoka Vatika ,the beautiful look that she carried was the original look of Psaahin and it was carried further by womens of Mithila.
Psaahin k baksa( vanity box), generally made of bamboo is a very important part of Mithila wedding . Every girl is gifted with this in their Durangman( farewell for in-laws house commonly called Vidai in India). It consists of Teesi, Tikuli, Neel, Piyauri, Khadka, Chandrauta, Soorma and Sindoor. These are least requisites for this gift and a lot more is added.
Psaahin has two forms , one is for those who are married while another is for unmarried girls. It has its own jewelry, make-up , dressing and everything encompassed in it. The most important element of it is the colourful art-work on the head of brides . It is also done by unmarried girls on some occasions (specially during Tussari Puja) but the colour used by them are quite different from those used by married ones. They do not use red colour ,instead they use other colours like yellow, blue and white.
It is called teen datak psaahin(added by 3 sticks) .It is done mainly with 3 colours and each of them has its own significance and scientific value as well .
-Yellow colour is made by piyauri ( sandle wood)
-Blue by flowers of Indigo plant.
- white by paste of rice (pithaar)
It is mainly done while Tusaari pooja ( a pooja done by unmarried girl to get a good groom)
On the other hand married girls mainly use red colour which is made by sindoor( vermilion). Apart from this, they are allowed to use any other colour of their choice .
Another important element of Psaahin is a special head wear called Tikuli, made by Patua( one of the Muslim weaver community). It is also offered to Gosauin( a form of Goddess Durga).
In the dressing part the married one has to wear yellow saree with sidha aanchar (like those done by Gujrati women). There is also a concept of lehenga among Maithilis. This special type of lehenga is called kechua and ghagri. Previously when girls were married at an early age they were not able to handle the saree and in this way concept of lehenga came up. It's very rare part of Mithila's dressing and very few people know about it.
Psaahin should be done by some elder married women of house (abhibati). This whole ritual of doing Psaahin connects the unmarried girl to that married women and she can feel the charm of being married in that whole process. This a kind of blessing from elderly women to girl for her happily married life.
If we conclude the whole gist of Psaahin,we can say that it is not just a way of shringaar, rather it's a way to connect with people living in society . Each element of Psaahin has its connection with some particular community. Like for eg; Tikuli is made by patwa(Weaver's community), Aalta by Hjaamin (Barber's wife), lahthi by chudi-wali ( a special community who make bangles), Paan by bdhaii(carpenter), Suhaag by washerwoman (as she is believed to have longest life with her husband), Khadka(sticks for art) by Domin (a special community who are specialized in bamboo craft works), Ghongroo by Mlaahin (fisherwomen) and so on.
So in this way each and every community is involved in it in some or the another way. In a region like Mithila which is quite infamous for its caste system, these things are above any caste or religion barrier and have women at the center of stage of Mithila.
We can now realise the significance of Psaahin and it's role in our culture but despite having such a great symbolic aspect, this beautiful pearl is on the verge of getting lost from the necklace of Mithila.
It is believed that the responsibility of Srijan and Sanrakshan (creation and preservation) is given to women and we credit them for carrying it in a very fine and beautiful way along with the their other responsibilities. But still, we are lacking and women are the one who can take lead role in preserving these beautiful and amazing form of Maithil women . It's not possible neither important to carry such a vague look in our daily life, but at least on some special occasions, where we are following some other form or look we can depict the women of Mithila and give it a personified look with better modification as per our comfort, so that a women of Mithila could also get it's own identity through the way she look.