Pune resident, Shital Mahajan, set a world record last month by executing a skydive in a traditional sari. The groundbreaking skydive took place above the popular vacation destination and resort town of Pattaya, Thailand and saw Shital leaping from a plane while wearing a traditional Naurwi sari that exceeded 9 yards in length.
Shital is no stranger to record-breaking skydiving feats and has participated in the sport the world over including being the first woman to have completed her initial skydive over the North Pole and another Accelerated Freefall jump over the South Pole from an elevation of 11,000 feet AGL amid the region’s freezing temperatures.
About her most recent experience, she said, “I wanted to do something different with International Women’s Day coming up next month.”
The something different developed into Shital donning the Maharashtrian ‘Nav-wari sari for her subsequent skydives. “I wanted to prove that Indian women can not only carry the sari graciously in their routine lives but can also use it for high adventure like skydiving.” said the 35-year-old mother of two boys.
Shital recounts the trouble she went to ensure the sari did not impede the safety of the dive and stayed in place throughout. She said she went to great lengths to make certain everything went off without a hitch, which at times, proved to be somewhat of a difficulty. Efforts to drape the sari properly, wear the parachute, the safety gear, and communication equipment, helmet, goggles, shoes, etc, was something of a challenge.
All of the effort to secure the garment was necessary as it kept the high winds over the gulf and the spins and turns associated with a skydive from tearing the sari out from under her. She said, “This style of sari comes from the Peshwa era, which intrigued me as it was a bit safe, although if any part had come out it could have turned into a risky affair.”
According to reports one of her landings did not come off as graceful as she had hoped, as she stumbled slightly, but still managed to emerge unhurt.
Shital insinuated that her skydive instructor was not a fan of the idea from the start saying “The instructor in Thailand was very strict and the first day I wasn’t allowed to do it, but on the second day, I convinced him, although, due to bad weather we couldn’t go ahead.” On her attempt the following day, she was able to successfully complete the jump wearing the sari and jumping from an elevation of 13,000 feet.
The sari (saree) is a traditional garment worn by women of South Asian descent, typically those from India. It is a long piece of fabric that is wrapped around the body and draped over one shoulder. The fabric is usually vibrantly colored and may be derived from silk or cotton and ornately embroidered. Women may also choose to wear fitted blouses called cholis and long petticoats with their saris.
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