The Whole Nine Yards: Saris Reign Supreme at Ladies Day at British Royal Ascot Racecourse
- More than 1,000 women don the traditional garment to display pride in their Indian heritage and culture and support women weavers in India.
On a typical Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England, women come out in large numbers, dressed in their most glamorous dresses and statement hats or fascinators. But this year was different. On the third day of the prestigious Gold Cup race on June 16, saris took over the dresses.
Over a thousand Indian women, mostly physicians, from all over the world, donned the traditional garment to display pride in their Indian heritage and culture and support women weavers in India, according to New Jersey-based entrepreneur Amita Singh, who also attended the event.
Owner of Daminis boutique in Edison, New Jersey, Singh told American Kahani that her love for the sari took her to the event. She also printed a sari for each of the six winners. Along with the saris, the women also sported extravagant hats and fascinators, “to tie the whole theme together,” Singh added. “It was an absolute British day.”
Dr. Dipti Jain, a London-based psychiatrist, who conceptualized and organized the event and got all the women together, wore a silk sari with hand embroidery on Kolkata and London skylines, as well as the face of the Queen, a red phone box, Big Ben and the Tower of London. The sari was designed by Rupa Khatun, an artisan from West Bengal.
She told the Times of India she had never heard of Queen Elizabeth II or Royal Ascot before she was asked to create the sari Jain wore to the event. The piece took her four months to complete, she said. “This is the hardest sari I have ever made,” she told the daily. “The hardest part was making the queen’s face absolutely perfect,” she said. “I am so happy that I am getting recognized.”
Sanchita Bhattacharya, a media professional, was spotted wearing a hand-crafted Madhubani silk sari, with a scene from the Mahabharata with the Pandavas and Krishna, as reported by NDTV. Another woman wore a sari with borders in the colors of the Indian flag.
For judging purposes, the women were divided into 15 color-based groups, and each group was assigned a Bollywood song to perform. The entire group also performed “London Thumakda” from the Kangana Ranaut’s “Queen.”
British royal family members including Zara Tindall, her mother Princess Anne, and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, joined the racegoers.