Wry Exchange

Wearing a Sari
09-15-08, 12:02 am
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: , ,

I wore a sari last week for the first time.  I offered to help someone share her Indian culture at an event.  (International Night at a conference.  Different cultures each had a room with food and decorations.)

I was a greeter, and spent my time welcoming guests by sprinkling rosewater, applying sandalwood oil, and ‘bindi-ing.’ (not all at once.)  I was also supposed to put my hands together and tip my head while greeting them with a “Namaste,” but I couldn’t figure out how to hold my gift and put my hands together at the same time.  I tried to be graceful.  Next to the two Indian women, I felt like the klutzy ‘gringa.’

  • ‘Bindi-ing’-I offered bindis to women, and applied them to their foreheads.  If they asked what the ‘dot’ was called, I replied “Bindi, just like the Crocodile Hunter’s daughter.”  We had the traditional red dots, and fancy, sparkly ones.  They were all self-adhesive.  It was fun sticking them on people.  (A handful of men wanted them as well.)
  • Rosewater-The rosewater was in a beautiful sterling container that looked like a cross between a perfume bottle and salt shaker.  I shook it on people like priests do at Easter. 
  • Sandalwood oil-A blueberry sized drop of oil lasted for 3 hours.  The oil was in solid form, and was held in a gorgeous sterling cup and saucer with the tiniest little spoon.  I dabbed the back of the spoon in the oil, and rubbed the oil on the back of the guests’ hand.  They were supposed to rub the tops of their hands together to warm up the oil.  It smelled really good and earthy.

Back to the sari.  It was so pretty.  I didn’t expect to wear a sari; it’s not my culture.  I had a plain black wrap dress to wear. ( I just wanted to help set up, and blend into the background.  Duh.  Black isn’t going to blend in an Indian room.) When my friend asked me if I wanted to wear a sari, I hesitated.   She brought several with her for women to wear.  She pulled one out that matched my hair and complexion, and unfolded it.  I didn’t realize how long the fabrics were.  Wow!  She wrapped it around me, over my capris.  I walked back to my hotel room, and unwrapped it in front of the mirror. 

A sari outfit has three parts.  The sari, a small shirt called a ‘choli,’ and an underslip. The sari is tucked into the petticoat.  The underslip closes with a string tie, and is ankle-length.  I had a short Spanx slip in my room, so I pulled that on.  I thought the Spanx slip was strong enough to hold up a zillion yards of fabric, and thankfully, I was right.   The choli that was with my sari was way too small, and I didn’t want to wear a midriff muffintopbaring shirt.  I brought a Ralph Lauren stretchy wide neck shirt that looked like a choli-purely by accident.  It also matched.  Score!  I got dressed, and went back downstairs to the Indian room.

My friends were so amazed that I dressed myself!  They were so proud of me.  I guess it’s not easy to correctly wrap a sari, and I did it all by myself.  I felt like a little kid who remembered to put my underwear on under my clothes.  Husband told me I looked pretty, and I received a ton of compliments.  I felt pretty.  My friend let me keep the sari as a gift.  It was so generous and unexpected.  It was a night to remember.

Lots of inf on Wiki, including 11 different ways of draping the sari fabric.  Here is a blog about fashionable saris called Saree Dreams.


1 Comment so far
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I’m impressed! All these years and I still can’t dress myself in one of those things. (The cholis don’t fit my girls ever either 😉 ) Glad you had fun – sounds like a cool event.

Comment by colorblindcupid

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