Pune: Pune adventurist Shital Rane-Mahajan set a new record by becoming the first Indian to skydive sporting a colourful “Nav-wari sari” in Thailand on Monday. Speaking to IANS shortly after landing, an elated Rane-Mahajan said owing to favourable weather conditions, she was able to skydive twice from an aircraft at heights of around 13,000 above the world-famous tourist resort of Pattaya.
“I wanted to do something different with International Women’s Day coming up next month, so I decided on wearing the Maharashtrian ‘Nav-wari sari’ for my skydives,” Rane-Mahajan told IANS on phone from Thai Skydiving Centre. Recounting her experiences, she said that wearing the “Nav-wari sari” itself is a challenge since the attire is nine-yards (8.25 metres) long —compared to six yards of the regular Indian sari. “First, to drape the ‘Nav-wari sari’ properly, plus to wear the parachutes on it, the safety gear and communication equipments, helmet, goggles, shoes, etc, add on to and make it all quite a challenge,” Rane-Mahajan explained, as she seemed to stumble in her first landing but escaped unhurt.
She grinned and admitted she had to make a lot of “extra preparations and precautions” for draping the “Nav-wari sari”, including pinning it up tightly and taping it in many places to ensure it did not come off her body from the staggering height as she soared down, with strong winds from the Gulf of Thailand lashing all through her descent. Rane-Mahajan said that the country’s signature women’s wear sari is draped in different styles all over India, but the Maharashtrian style of “Nav-wari sari” is probably the most difficult and toughest to manage for women.
“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,” smiled the 35-year old extreme sportswoman. The jump was originally scheduled on Sunday (February 11), but had to be postponed due to sudden heavy rains and stormy weather in Pattaya, though she managed a jump from 9,000 feet height.