The other day I was fortunate enough to feel like a real Indian when I got properly dressed up in one of my friends sari’s. Bangles, extravagant jewelry, a bindi (the dot that goes in the centre of your forehead), EYELINER (a big jump for me) annnndd an exquisite sari – the whole SHEBANG!
By partaking in this tradition i became one of millions and millions of women throughout it’s long history, to have the piece of cloth expertly draped around me . The word ‘sari’ evolved from the Prakrit word ‘sattika’ as mentioned in earliest Jain and Buddhist literature
The ancient and exotic sari, India’s traditional national dress for women,
has withstood the test of time and is now over 5,000 years old. The history of Indian clothing traces the sari back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which flourished during 2800-1800 BCE around the western part of the Indian subcontinent.
Sari is simply a long length of unstitched fabric, typically six to nine yards, that’s worn elegantly wrapped around the body. In this regard, one size truly fits all. One end of the material is richly decorated, and is called the pallu. It’s usually worn pleated and pinned over the shoulder, draping down the back. The navel can be revealed or concealed by the wearer by adjusting the pallu, depending on the social setting in which the sari is being worn. It can also be worn open over the shoulder and draped over the arm. A special blouse that bares the midriff, called a choli, and a petticoat are worn under the sari. As the sari is wrapped around the body, the material is tucked tightly into the petticoat so it doesn’t fall down. No pins are needed. My friend expertly tied it and I had the Pallu draped down my back.
She got dressed up two and we got some photos around the house and in the garden. More than anything i just enjoyed feeling like an Indian princess! To match the beautiful colours of the sari, I wore my friends, mothers’ diamond and ruby jewels. I’ll admit, when your dripping with diamonds it’s not hard to feel like royalty
Every state across India has its own special weaves and fabrics for its saris. Many of the patterns are derived from temples, palaces and paintings. I was wearing quite a modern sari, with the same small motif repeated across the fabric and the trimming was a stunning mixture of an array of styles
The Sari is popular in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Burma and Malaysia. While an international image of the ‘modern style’ sari may have been popularized by airline stewardesses, each region in the Indian subcontinent has developed, over the centuries, its own unique sari style. Many of the Indian states have their own styled aswell
For those of you willing to try (girls or boys… I won’t judge ☺ ) below is a step by step guide. But I’ll say with 99.9% conviction that its impossible to do it properly by yourself the first time. Indian girls spend YEARS perfecting the technique under the watchful gaze of their mothers and grandmothers.
HOW TO WEAR A SARI
Two essential parts of attire, that go along with the Sari, need to be chosen carefully to compliment the Sari. These are: A petticoat which is a waist-to-floor garment, tied tightly at the waist by a drawstring. The petticoat color should match the base sari color as closely as possible. No part of the petticoat, of course, is visible outside the Sari, after having worn it. A blouse which needs to be tight-fitting and whose color needs to be chosen keeping the look of the sari in mind, can be short sleeved or sleeveless, with a variety of necklines. The blouse ends just below the bust.
Start wearing the sari by tucking its plain/upper end into the petticoat, at a position which is a little bit to the right of the navel. Make sure that the lower end of the sari should be touching the floor, and that the whole length of the sari comes on the left-hand side. Now wrap the sari around yourself once, with the sari now coming back in the front, on your right side.
Make about 5 to 7 pleats of equal width of 5 inches, starting at the tucked-in end. Gather the pleats together, neatly, ensuring that the lower edges of the pleats are even and just off the ground and that the pleats fall straight and evenly
Neatly tuck the pleats into the petticoat, at the waist, slightly to the left of the navel, in such a manner that they open to your left
Drape the remaining fabric around yourself once more left to right, and bring it round your hips to the front, holding the top edge of the sari.
Slightly raise the remaining portion of the Sari on your back, bringing it up under the right arm and over the left shoulder so that the end of the Sari falls to about the level of your knees. The end portion thus draped, from the left shoulder onwards, is called the Pallav or the Pallu
Whilst my friend and her mother only bring out their sari’s (combined they have an EXTRAODINARY collection) for special occasions, many Indian women continue to wear a much lighter, cotton sari every single day. Seeing all the wonderful colours and patterns being worn by women around town is a wonderful thing and I always feel sorry for the boys – so plain and boring! Until we travel further north that is and the men commonly wear colorful turbans!