Mother Teresa's iconic blue and white border sari is now an intellectual property of Missionaries of Charity. The nun, who was baptised as Saint Teresa of Calcutta by the Vatican was often seen in her emblematic garb- a white sari with three blue borders. According to the Trademarks Registry, Government of India, the intellectual rights to the piece of clothing was granted on September 4, 2016, the day she was canonised.
"The Missionaries of Charity does not believe in publicity and as such it was not publicised, but since we are witnessing unscrupulous and unfair usage of the design across the globe, we are now trying to spread awareness among people about the trademark," Intellectual Property attorney Biswajit Sarkar told PTI.
Sarkar added that the blue border sari has acquired a "distinctive symbolic identity" of the Missionaries of Charity under the colour trademark protection. It took three years for the missionary to have the sari trademarked and it was granted after a series of stringent legal proceedings. This is the first time that a uniform has been made intellectual property.
It is believed that Mother Teresa bought the sari in August 1948 along with Maggi, a junior teacher at Loreto Convent in Kolkata. She left the nunnery and her students in shock when she wore the sari a few days later. According to Times of India, Magdalena Polton, who was later known as Sr. Gertrude, exclaimed, "Mother Teresa, a Loreto nun, was now dressed like a poor Bengali woman in a simple white cotton sari with three blue borders!"
Mother Teresa is believed to have bought that sari from Howrah for Rs 2.50 paise, She chose the blue borders since people associate the colour with Mother Mary and it symbolises purity. There's another reason why she might have chosen the sari; it was similar to what female sweepers wore during that time.
Nowadays, the saris with the three blue stripes are woven at the Missionaries of Charity-run Gandhiji Prem Niwas at Titagarh. Around 4,000 such saris are woven annually and are distributed among nuns all over the world.
With inputs from PTI