The December music and dance festival has started and most of the sabhas in the city are brimming with activities. Unlike earlier times, Margazhi season not just celebrates Carnatic music, dance and canteen food; there is more to it now. Though performers and sabha-hopping rasikas find the Tamil month of Margazhi the best season to flaunt their favourite Kancheepuram pattu sarees and traditional ethnic jewelleries, many love to spice it up with their choice of attires.
Classical musician and playback singer S Mahathi’s choice of pattu sarees and jewellery has got a great fan following. The singer believes that an artiste should be presented pleasantly. “It is the responsibility of the artiste to hold his/her audience for about 2.5 hours. I make sure that I look presentable on stage. I usually pick bright Kancheepuram silk sarees for the December season concert — it comes with a lot of grandeur. Each concert will be talked about for a long time among the regular rasikas. Like how I prepare for my music performance, I pay attention to my dressing style as well,” she says.
The singer pairs her sarees with matching accessories, but stays away from statement jewellery. She also tries and checks the background of a particular sabha where she is performing. “My costume shouldn’t merge or be in contrast with the backdrop. Moreover, I make sure that I don’t distract people from my music and draw more attention to my dressing. A singer shouldn’t be under-dressed or over-dressed,” she explains.
Bharatanatyam artiste Dr Lakshmi Ramaswamy selects her dance costumes according to the theme. “When I do Sangam age works, I only chose brown, green and yellow colour costumes. While performing Sundara Kandam, I prefer multi-colours. Recently, I have done a performance as a parrot as the theme — for that, I chose to wear a parrot green-chilli red colour semi-raw silk Bharatanatyam outfit. Earlier, we selected silk sarees for a dance costume because silk exudes elegance and sophistication by its shine. But now, there are a lot of gorgeous materials that can be transformed into a nice dance outfit,” she shares.
Performers started to innovate in terms of textiles, colours and textures. “Each artiste loves to stand out, so they are experimenting with patterns as well. There are so many variations when it comes to jewellery. Even traditional jewellers approach us for design interventions. For one of my productions, I used organdy flowers as part of my jewellery,” says Lakshmi.
Although men have fewer outfit options, a few singers are game for creativity when it comes to fashion. Carnatic singer Sikkil Gurucharan, who likes to dress up with the flow, opts for plain colours like white, black, shades of grey, blue, red and off-white. “I don’t like to orchestrate with bright colours and heavy embroidery. There shouldn’t be any distractions. I have been wearing handblocked prints on my shirt for the last two seasons. Also, I pick shirts and kurtas with warli designs,” he says.
Vandana Srinivasan, who is a regular audience at all kutcheris, loves to dress up during the festival. “I dress up depending on the vibe of the day and how I feel. Sometimes, I wear a 75-year-old silk saree that belonged to grandmom or a simple kurta with minimal jewellery,” she shares.