‘Gulabi Gang’ sari finds its way to London exhibition

Design Museum of London, attempts to celebrate the movement of rural women's empowerment, and exhibit the 'pink sari' of Gulabi Gang fame.

Lucknow: The Design Museum of London, in an attempt to celebrate the movement of rural women’s empowerment, has decided to exhibit the ‘pink sari’ in an exhibition on Indian fashion “Offbeat Sari” that will open in May.

The ‘pink sari’ is a symbol of women sisterhood, popularised by the vigilante group of Bundelkhand known as ‘Gulabi Gang’.

The Gulabi Gang members, wearing pink saris, fight against oppression, beating pink sticks on the ground.

This extraordinary women’s movement started by Sampat Pal in 2006 has drawn global attention.

Sampat Pal said: “Gulabi Gang’s fight has reached foreign lands. I was happy when called to France for the first time in 2008. We have now grown to 11 lakh members. I am sending my sari along with blouse, petticoat and stick to London by a courier to be displayed there.”

The Gulabi Gang was launched to seek justice against those accused of “committing atrocities against women” or indulging in corruption.

Priya Khanchandani, the curator of the exhibition, in an email sent to Sampat Pal said: “Dear Gulabi Gang, I have followed your incredible work for up to a decade now and hope you don’t mind me getting in touch. I would love to include a pink sari belonging to the Gulabi Gang in the exhibition as an example of the sari as an object of resistance and wondered if you might be able to lend a pink sari worn by one of your members to us. Would you be willing to lend us a sari worn by Sampat Pal or another key member of the group?”

She wrote, “I would be honoured to tell the story of the Gulabi Gang’s work to audiences here in the UK and to display the sari among a carefully chosen selection of saris reflecting the story of contemporary India today.”

The exhibition, titled ‘The Offbeat Sari’, focusses on the sari as a contemporary fashion garment. It celebrates the sari as an innovative, forward-thinking object which has been absorbent of cultural influences and been a vessel for the expression of identity.


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