“I am so happy that I am getting recognised."
More than 1,000 women attended Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot wearing traditional sarees.
The horseracing event is sometimes seen as a fashion showcase for revellers.
But for Dr Dipti Jain, she came up with the idea for a group of women to wear sarees in order to display their heritage and celebrate the creations of Indian weavers.
She said: “We are saree-loving girls and the idea came up after setting up a charity to help artisans and weavers, especially after the pandemic in India.”
The majority of the women came from the UK but some flew in from other countries.
Dr Jain’s silk saree was hand-embroidered with London and Kolkata skylines, the Queen’s face, Big Ben, a red phone box and the Tower of London.
The saree was made by Rupa Khatun, an artisan from West Bengal.
Rupa said: “I have never had any formal training in making sarees. I just learnt from the other women in the village and my mother and grandmother. I am really proud.
“I did not know about the Queen, London or Big Ben before.
“I am so happy that I am getting recognised.
“As of now, I just give my sarees to the middleman who sells them to the market. No one gives us any recognition. I am really proud of this saree. It has got such massive appreciation.
”This is the hardest saree I have ever made. I am used to traditional prints.”
With the help of others, the saree took four months to make.
Rupa added: “The hardest part was making the Queen’s face absolutely perfect.”
Tanima Paul designed the saree and sent images of Big Ben and the Queen to SK Nurul Hoda. He sketched them on the fabric and purchased the materials.
Rupa then made the saree.
Rupa also made a silk stole with a Union Jack and the Queen’s face, which the group of women plans to gift to the Queen.
The artisan said:
“I wish I could meet the Queen and see how she feels about the stole. I feel very proud.”
Tanima added: “All my life I have wanted to promote Indian craftsmen and give them due recognition.
“It is such a big achievement to be featured at Ascot.”
Tanima also designed a number of other sarees worn at Ascot, including a Covid-themed saree and another featuring Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
An Ascot spokesperson said: “This is a wonderful initiative and so worthwhile, we welcome them all warmly to Royal Ascot.”