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Meet The M’sian Designer Who Transformed Our National Flag Into Silk Sarees For Merdeka


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This year’s Merdeka day was certainly not what everyone expected in light of the Covid-19 pandemic that has greatly affected the country. However, Malaysians still continued to show their appreciation to their beloved country in many interesting ways.

One local designer took it to the next level to show her gratitude towards frontliners and created multiethnic traditional attires to celebrate the ones who sacrificed their lives and fought during the brutal months of the global pandemic.

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STANDING TOGETHER WITH ZOBHA The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us as a nation and it was deeply disturbing along with social issues which involved racial barricades and injustice. It was during these tough times that we marched together as a proud nation addressing these issue and embracing our differences together. Just like the lyric from the Jalur Gemilang song, "Satu Suara, Satu Semangat." The Merdeka saree represents us as Malaysians, celebrating our various different cultures, people, strength and independence. Besides that, we took this opportunity to show our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the front-liners who stood tall for our country during the tough initial months of the global COVID-19 pandemic with accompanying looks that were inspired by some of our national uniforms. Sharing is truly caring. #TogetherWithZobha #Merdeka2020 Thank you to everyone who believed in this project:  Saree Designer: @kancheevaram_weaves_by_zobha Costume Designer: @trihamsa Saree Draping: @yogashyogg Hair and Makeup: @vithyahairandmakeup & @makeupbyumminasir Photography: @carloskhu by @khustudio Videography: @thirtygrid Catering: @knowherebangsar PR Agency: @mtalentasia Personalities:   @thanujaananthan @anujaananthan @christyemilylove @careyons @shikingomez @dahlianadirah

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Pavithra Varathan, the founder of ZOBHA, adores sarees to the extent of dominating the Malaysian textile market with one of the most elegant and classic premium designs – the Kanjivaram Sarees – in hopes of educating consumers on the beauty and authenticity of silk sarees. The intricacy behind the Kanjivaram silk sarees is truly remarkable as weavers in India took their time in perfecting and embellishing them as the saree embodies femininity, beauty, elegance and grace.

To commemorate the 63rd year of Malaysia’s independence, Pavithra felt compelled to create Kanjivaram silk sarees out of the national flag in hopes of uniting and brightening the spirits of Malaysians in this dire time. According to the ZOBHA founder, she was completely distraught by Malaysia’s current issues which include the outbreak and the countless cases of social injustice.

“My inspirations were weaved in the saree to remind our nation about the significance of Merdeka, where unity and strength live within us as Malaysians,” she said.

Untitled Design 5 Untitled Design 4

The local designer sent her designs to weavers in Kanchipuram, India for them to turn her ideas into reality. The weavers took almost 16 days to complete as there were many complex processes to be fulfilled in order for the beautiful fabric to come to life to honour the historical and cultural legacy of Indian fashion.

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The Merdeka Saree truly captures the essence of our national flag as the design includes all of the flag’s components to fully honour its symbol of integrity and unity.

“The body of the saree embodies 14 stripes of equal width to represent the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states and the federal territories, the bold blue which symbolizes unity in Malaysia, the crescent and moon representing the entities and royalty of our nation.”

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Besides the Merdeka saree, Pavithra included four other gorgeous garments that are equally intricate and that incorporates different textiles such as songket, brocade and silk. The garments were beautifully draped on Malaysian models and Merdeka-born twins for an exclusive shoot at the historic Sultan Abdul Samad Building for the Merdeka campaign.

The models include the founder of Christy Ng Shoes, Christy Ng, the founder of SO.LEK Cosmetic, Dahlia Nadirah, Miss Universe Malaysia 2013, Carey Ng, Asia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 5, Shikin Gomez and the Merdeka-born twins, Thanuja Ananthan & Anuja Ananthan.

Each of the garments represents the workforce that has endured extreme labour in protecting Malaysian citizens such as the Royal Malaysia Police, the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia, the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Health. The Merdeka Sarees fully encapsulates the pride and joy that is our country and were donned by the Twins, who looked entirely regal and breathtaking.

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Pavithra hopes that this campaign will bring unity amongst Malaysians and reminds them that in order to grow as a nation, we have to stand together and continue to educate and address issues that will further develop the well-being of this country. She also intends to bring awareness to the community about the hardworking frontliners who have strived and fought to help better the country.

“I wanted to showcase how much the frontliners struggled, how strong they are together to save the country and keep everyone safe, all this only by staying strong together”

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A Kanjivaram silk saree is hand woven by weavers in India who work with silk for hours perfecting the saree as it speaks a thousand words of beauty, elegance, boldness, confidence, and ​femininity. ​The body of the Merdeka saree especially, was inspired by our Malaysian flag which represents the mighty strips of glory embodied with national colours of freedom, independence and the royalty of a unified nation. The distinguishing feature of this Kanjivaram Silk saree is the heavily contrasted border and pallu (decorated end) embellished with gold depicting the bravery and courage of Malaysia’s Bapa Kemerdekaan (Father of Independence) Tunku Abdul Rahman, who fought endlessly to unite our fellow countrymen on the road to independence, ​above Kuala Lumpur’s signature skyline. To accompany the unquestionably unique Medeka saree, we took this opportunity to show our appreciation and gratitude to the front-liners who stood tall for our country during the tough initial months of the global COVID-19 pandemic with accompanying looks. These looks were inspired by some of our national uniforms – all by using Kanjivaram Silk sarees styled with custom blouses designed by @trihamsa , using different textiles such as songket, brocade and silk. These looks were modelled by fellow trailblazing Malaysian women and we also had a chance to interview some of our Malaysian heroes. ? Sharing is truly caring. #TogetherWithZobha #Merdeka2020 Thank you to everyone who believed in this campaign:  Saree Designer & Concept : @kancheevaram_weaves_by_zobha Costume Designer: @trihamsa Saree Draping: @yogashyogg Hair and Makeup: @vithyahairandmakeup & @makeupbyumminasir Photography: @carloskhu by @khustudio Videography: @thirtygrid Catering: @knowherebangsar PR Agency: @mtalentasia Personalities:   @thanujaananthan @anujaananthan @christyemilylove @careyons @shikingomez @dahlianadirah

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A tribute video was also included in the campaign with frontliners expressing their love and honour for the country. They also further expressed that even during this tragic time, we as Malaysians should stand together and unite regardless of different races and religion in order to fight and end the Covid-19 battle.

#KitaJagaKita #MalaysiaPrihatin

Selamat Merdeka to all Malaysians!

Check out this local designer on her Instagram (@kancheevaram_weaves_by_zobha) and Facebook (@kancheevarambyzobha). Tell us what you think of this amazing campaign in the comments below!


Also Read: Post-Merdeka: Here’s What We As Malaysians Can Do To Stand Up Against Racism

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Source: Instagram
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Source: Instagram

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