19 June, 2021

India’s Eager Weaver

Pupul Jayakar sensitised generations to India’s timeless traditions

India’s Eager Weaver

PUPUL Jayakar, 81, passed away quietly in her sleep on March 28. Had it been daylight and she up and about, death wouldn’t have dared creep up on her. India’s official cultural Czarina was like that. Whether it was a game of poker at Mumbai’s Willingdon Club or a discussion on the overpowering influence of the West, she never let anything or anyone get the better of her.

That she had "an eye that could see, a ear that could hear" and a "sense for what is common and what is uncommon" only accentuated her already formidable strengths. Born on September 11, 1915, to a liberal-thinking father who was in the civil service and a Gujarati Brahmin mother, Pupul inherited the best of both worlds. Her subsequent education at Annie Besant’s school in Varanasi served to enhance her sensitivity to a timeless tradition and the flux of a nation in ferment. Soon she took to wearing sarees, opting for breeches only while riding.

Childhood association with the Nehru family stood her in good stead,...

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