Ekushey's spirit through the lens of fashion
"Moder gorob, moder asha, amori bangla bhasha" - perhaps we Bengalis are the only nation who can boastfully claim that our language is our pride. For this very language, we valiantly fought oppressive forces and earned the right to speak our mother tongue, which is deeply tied to our cultural heritage.
'Amar Ekushey' is right around the corner, and the entire nation is preparing to observe this day that holds historical significance as a turning point in the birth of Bangladesh. It is a day when people from all walks of life join the 'Probhat Pheri' singing the Ekushey song 'Amar bhaier rokte rangano Ekushey February, Ami ki bhulite pari?' in unison and offer wreaths at Shaheed Minar paying homage to those who paved the way for our linguistic freedom.
It is a day when the country's streets are inundated with throngs of people dressed in black and white - colours that symbolise grief and mourning.
Despite the ever-evolving fashion landscape, Ekushey fashion remains steadfast in its adherence to tradition, preserving the essence of nationalism. Ekushey fashion portrays the Ekushey spirit through moderate attires and solemn demeanours. Ekushey fashion not only adorns the entire nation in the same colours but also ties all the citizens of the country - irrespective of race, colour, gender, or religion - together with a single thread of patriotism and reminds them that a united front can lead to a certain victory.
In honour of this patriotic holiday, we take a look at the essential elements of fashion that embody the spirit of Ekushey in this piece.
Monochrome shari - classic Ekushey attire for Bengali women
A tightened focus on 'less is more' paired up with a black-and-white palette dictates the fashion theme for Ekushey. Today, most women prefer to embolden themselves with a sense of collective power by wearing the traditional six-yard drape.
While shari has become the silhouette of choice for all, each woman puts her own unique spin on the timeless garment. Some opt for an Ekushe-ready black cotton shari in prints of Bengali alphabets or patriotic lyrics with a demure high-necked full-sleeve blouse.
In contrast, some find a winner in a half-silk shari in creative black and white combinations paired up with a daring boat neck sleeveless blouse. And some steal the thunder with an all-white linen shari, bearing delicate handwoven motifs all over the canvas, contrasted with a black blouse.
Women known for their anything-but-ordinary sense of style take a shot at fusing this traditional look with the contemporary touch by updating their blouses with experimental cuts - pushing the boundaries of conventional styling.
Bengali women prefer to keep their look simple and understated for the Ekushey by keeping accessories to a minimum. They often choose a minimalistic oxidised silver choker necklace or a set of matching stud earrings to finish out the look. When they tie their hair in a messy bun and plaid a string of roses through it, they make sure to wear a red bindi as a finishing touch.
Salwar kameez and kurta - effortless-yet-easy looks
Bengali women who love to keep it fuss-free but not frumpy choose to wear salwar kameez or kurta in block or screen prints and hand-stitched designs.
Keeping the Ekushey spirit alive, some wear a black cotton salwar kameez set and a matching dupatta with patriotic song lyrics or the Shaheed Minar image printed on the garment. Meanwhile, some are spotted in a block-printed viscose kurta combined with a brown leather jutti - a combination that works every time. Some women's discerning eye lands on a simple yet sublime V-neck white kurta featuring hand-embroidered motifs along the neckline styled with a pair of white palazzo pants.
To shell out some noteworthy looks, many adorn themselves with an oxidised silver necklace and a matching oxidised silver stack of bangles. Those who do not want to go over the top, choose a pair of oxidised chaandbali as the choice of jewellery and take a rain check on necklaces. Some tie their hair in a centre-parted messy bun and adorn it with a gajra.
Panjabi tops the sartorial choice for men
For Bengali men, panjabi is something they do not have a problem committing to multiple times and on multiple occasions. And a panjabi plus Ekushey equals the perfect dressing formula for the majority.
Most men are often seen wearing a traditional cotton panjabi in prints of Bengali alphabets or patriotic quotes that possess tremendous symbolic significance. Some contrast patterned black panjabi with achromatic neckline embroidery detail with white pants, and complete the ensemble with a pair of black ethnic chappals. Others place their bets on white khadi panjabi with basic paisleys designs and a pair of white pants.
To add an extra bit of panache to the Ekushey look, Bengali men sometimes choose to wear a retro-inspired Bengali alphabet-printed shawl on top. For the Ekushey look, they swear by the timeless accessory - a classic black leather strap watch - as the fitted finish to their look.
Amar Ekushey is more than a mere ritual, and Ekushey fashion is more than a trend. It transcends the context of fashion and carries within itself the essence of our cultural legacy. Ekushey fashion serves to remind us yet again of the history that our heroes gave up their lives for and remind us yet again of the timeless promise to protest against injustice for generations to come.