On the evening of December 30, 2023, the courtyard of the renowned restaurant Hurum, nestled in the heart of Sonapur, transformed into a spectacle unlike any other. Defying the winter chill, the venue radiated warmth from the crackling traditional wood fires that adorned the surroundings.
The ramp itself was an artistic fusion of vegetables, fruits, bamboo, and other ethnic-rural elements, setting the stage for an unconventional fashion show.
The event unfolded with poet Nilim Kumar, author Namrata Datta, and this representative coming together to light a ‘jor,’ a traditional lighting device. Following this symbolic initiation, Nilim Kumar recited a poem, signalling the commencement of a truly distinctive fashion experience.
Conceptualized, planned, and flawlessly executed by Chef Atul Lahkar and Jewellery designer Wahida, the models for this remarkable show were local women who earned their livelihood by selling vegetables and home-grown food items to Atul Lahkar. The culinary maestro’s restaurant, ‘Hurum,’ specializes in organic cuisines sourced from nearby villages, where these hardworking women play a pivotal role. In a thoughtful gesture, Atul had set up a small vegetable market adjacent to his restaurant, providing these rural women with additional space to grow their businesses.
The sellers-turned-models, under the creative guidance of renowned designer Wahida, adorned themselves with meticulously crafted ornaments and costumes. The runway came alive with their graceful strides, accompanied by the soulful tunes of folk music. The winter evening shimmered with the glow reflected in the smiles of these empowered women. Folk artists, Biren Bodo and Raghu Bodo along with the anchor Manoj Deka, added to the enchantment with both vocal and instrumental performances, further elevating the spirit of the show.
While the event appeared to be a fashion show on the surface, its underlying philosophy was profound—a showcase of providing empowerment for working women. These resilient ladies, who dedicate a significant portion of their lives to the insistent pursuit of livelihood, found an ally in this event by Atul-Waheeda. While the show may not revolutionize their daily lives, it undoubtedly strengthened their confidence to face the ongoing challenges.
A resounding round of applause is well-deserved for Atul and Waheeda, whose vision and efforts crafted an evening that seamlessly blended fashion and empowerment, leaving a permanent mark on the hearts of all who attended.
Photo Courtesy: Anmol Singh