Thursday, June 2, 2011

We're Not Sorry for Saris

by Chelsea, BSILR'12  

For the past week, we have been on a journey becoming Indian to experience southern India as authentically and thoroughly as possible. This meant learning about the culture, practicing speaking the language, eating local foods and considering life through a different lens. However as we made our own attempts to dress in local clothing, we needed SVYM Deputy Director Sindhu's guidance to truly embrace traditional Indian dress--the sari.  

Sindhu kindly took us to her favorite sari shop so we could look through an amazing array of colors and prints to pick a sari that matched each of our personalities. The shop was owned by a husband and wife who gladly showed us different types of fabrics we could choose from as well. 

As we tried to select which sari we would like to get, we also learned how integral the sari was to an India women's wardrobe. Darker muted colors and larger prints were usually worn by older women, while younger ones preferred smaller vibrant prints. In addition, a woman could have a collection of 30-40 saris, which could have a price range of 300 rupees for an everyday sari up to 8000 or more for a sari for a special occasion like a wedding. Regional differences could also be discerned from the way a woman wraps her sari. Unlike putting on a simple t-shirt, there is no one correct way to wrap a sari. Where the pleats fall or how it is wrapped around your shoulder indicated what part of the country or state somebody comes from.

While most of the girls were happy to find a sari, the store didn't carry any dhotis for the guys. The dhoti is a traditional Indian men's wear that is wrapped around the waist and folded up in informal settings. In addition to our saris, we left the store having experienced more Indian hospitality and a step closer to a deeper understanding of Indian culture and life.

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