The Modern Sari: Some Facts and a Question.

Sari as daily wear for women (who are not forced to wear it) is no longer the norm in big cities. Most women who wear it every day, do it either because they are used to it or because they are not allowed to wear salwar kurta or western wear, like in traditional Joint Families or in some workplaces.

For many others, wearing a sari at home is so unusual that if they wear it, they are asked what the occasion is.

Since wearing of sari is often a compulsion, not wearing a sari is seen as an indication of a woman being allowed to make personal choices. This also applies to symbols of marriage, like sindoor and mangalsutra.

I knew one woman who wore jeans when her in laws were away and switched to sari when they were around, she said she did this to show them respect. These days many women are allowed to show respect to their in laws in whatever they are comfortable wearing, and women generally seem to be proud of such in laws.

Also, married women who are not forced to wear sari (or symbols of marriage) are seen as being luckier by women who don’t have such freedom.

Those who prefer to see women in saris often criticize women in western wear as ‘liberated, modern, westernized’ women.

Many women who have to wear a sari, switch to synthetic saris because they are easier to maintain and drape. However synthetic saris are fire hazard, specially while working in the kitchen.

Some women are allowed to wear the nightie or maxi (a full length night dress) and they wear sari only when they are dressing up, preferring the nightie/maxi most of the time at home, and often even outside.

Sari is still very popular for festive and formal occasions.

The way the sari was worn traditionally, without a blouse or a petticoat, was more suited to Indian weather conditions. The modern blouse and the petticoats were introduced by the British (a western influence). The modern 6 yards sari, very gradually over the past many decades, has been replacing the traditional saris worn in various parts of India.  This popular modern version might evolve further, maybe into something worn only for special occasions.

And the question: Why do you think are Indian women (and men) choosing to wear modern clothing? Why aren’t we wearing the traditional turbans, dhoti/mundu and saris, lehengas in our daily lives, the way our grand parents did? If you wear sari/dhoti-kurta everyday, then what makes you do that, if you don’t then why not?

Men in the cities gave up traditional clothing a few decades before women started doing the same.

Related posts:

The way a woman dresses…

A sari to make you a respectable Indian teacher.

Can’t end marriage over a sari.

Shashi Tharoor : Sari fate ? - by Amodini

Sorry no Saree Part I - Careless Chronicles

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113 thoughts on “The Modern Sari: Some Facts and a Question.

    • I disagree. I find that people say this frequently and it is totally untrue. Pajama are comfortable as jeans or trousers, yes. But the kurta hangs low at the bottom and frequently gets tangled in things. If you wear more fashionable shorter kurta, this is not a problem. But it is tightly fitting around the arms and chest unlike blouse or t-shirt. To gain comfort, you must buy new model kurtas- these are nice and fashionable AND comfortable. But alas- still impractical. One pair of black trousers, for example, can match dozens of blouses. But kurta-pajama usually comes as suit- especially the newer and more comfortable ones. Finally, if you wear a kurta without the dupatta, people will stare and comment. Wear a blouse without a kurta and no one says anything. I don’t know why. A duputta is extremely uncomfortable. It is the stupidest garment I have ever seen, and I don’t know how it was invented. Why anyone would want to carry around yards of cloth with them for no reason is beyond me. Keeping it draped is annoying- constant battle. You cannot run, it gets caught in things, it is hot in the winter, sometimes it pulls at the neck. When the wind blows or you carry a bag, you must constantly adjust. Western influence clothes are simply more practical- it is true. And there is a reason for this. Traditional Western women’s clothes are just as restrictive and impractical as traditional Indian women’s clothes. But then Western women went through the women’s movement and they demanded the right to wear more practical clothes. The current clothing style developed BECAUSE it is practical and comfortable and less restrictive. Chicken and egg.

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  1. I wear sarees at workplace and there is no such compulsion for me wear them. I leave no occasion to wear a saree otherwise too, say visiting a friends place or my child’s PTM or anything. Saree is a very stylish and a very versatile attire, once u’ve mastered to manage it and learnt to accessorize properly according to the occasion.

    Really like the observation that women who are allowed to give away the obvious symbols of being married like sindoor, mangal sutra and saree are consered to be liberated and belonging to an open minded family. It is the truth.

    I wear western as it is practical, comfortable ( seeing the summers of Delhi) and stylish too. But now I see that wearing western dresses is the only way girls are sticking to. At times it surprises me too! have we become so western really? does our work really require us to be always clad in jeans or capris or pants or jumpsuits or skirts or dresses? I doubt that.

    There is a need to re invent saree, and take pride in wearing it. There is also a need to understand that a kurta Pyjama can be equally admirable and sexy as a jeans and Tee can be.

    All in all, a very interesting way of presenting things IHM :)

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    • //does our work really require us to be always clad in jeans or capris or pants or jumpsuits or skirts or dresses?//
      Maybe it’s not as much about requirement as about preference. Maybe they like to wear these things? Would you see it as wrong if they prefer western clothing?

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      • No, I don’t see it as wrong to be wanting to wear western. But ask any girl.. and they say.. because it’s comfortable or easy. My point is that should we completely abandon saree, just because we never bothered to learn to drape it properly? Just because it will take time? In fact, it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes or even less to me. It’s graceful to see women in a well draped saree ( and am not talking about those marriage and festival look of sarees)…

        I wish that saree doesn’t die down completely in modern urban culture.

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        • I feel those who like to wear the sari in their everyday life must wear it. If it’s worn by those who truly want to wear it, sari would not be seen as something women are pressurised to wear.

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        • To drape a saree in a way that is comfortable when you run for a taxi and splash in the mud and carry bags and move around quickly, you must drape it the way laborer women do. Wear light material sarees and pull them up away from the legs and tie them firmly. I doubt most women want to wear this style as it is ugly- it looks only like you have tied a sheet all around you. Maybe you feel that wearing a saree in the office is comfortable, and that is your choice. I think you probably look nice in it, and I’m happy there is diversity in style. I feel wearing a saree is very uncomfortable, and why should I be expected to take the time to learn to make it comfortable? I want to abandon the saree myself. I never want to wear one again. Why should I not do so? It is a matter of clothing, and I don’t care if my clothing looks Western or Indian- these distinctions don’t matter to me. Being Indian woman is about more than clothes. Clothes are superficial.

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    • Restless, many feel saree is inconvenient ..specially driving two wheeler, travelling in public transport etc…..whats your take on this..

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      • I feel saree is somewhat impractical when you lead an active working life. It blows in the wind, so you always have to keep a handle on it. It looks good only if you accessorize properly (whereas you can wear jeans and t-shirt) without bothering too much about accessories.

        In a/c offices, it gets cold and you have to wear sweaters over it. After work, gym is cumbersome changing in and out of saree in cramped little cabins.

        I used to wear Saree in my first job-it was a job requirement, and I didn’t mind it. But truly nothing beats the comfort and practicality of wearing jeans.

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    • Westernwear is more comfortable in the summer/? You’re not thinking jeans here, are you?

      I’ve been in the States for 10+ years, while my sister has been living at home in India. When I go home in the summers, I wear salwar kurtas all the time – but my sister always wears jeans, no matter how uncomfortable for the weather – and she’d rather that I did, as well.

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      • The reason for jeans being popular is also that they are easier to maintain. often salwar kurta requires washing separately, ironing, starching, having matching pieces and accessories. Three fourth length jeans, trousers, capris, thin cotton trousers or light denim are popular, I guess because all one one needs is a t shirt or kurti or even a full length kurta – generally requiring no matching. This is popular in most cities. Shorts are still more practical in heat and humidity but might take some more time to catch up.

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    • Is there any need to “take pride” in any dress?? Isn’t it easy if we all wore the dress of our choice, what we are comfortable in without labeling it “Western” or “Eastern” or Indian or whatever?

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  2. Going slightly off tangent here -but a cousin who lives in UK told me she doesn’t understand why most people in India (specially youngsters) opt for totally western wear when Indian textiles and attires has so so much to offer ! She feels we sometimes ape the west unnecessarily! :P

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      • You make SUCH a valid point, IHM. I simply glaze over when someone tells me jeans is western wear. Huh, how? The outfit was not even invented until about a century ago, nor was the fabric invented. And when it came out, the entire world rebelled, then everyone gave in. So what exactly makes it western wear?

        Western people also do not wear traditional clothing,except on special occasions, so I am not sure what the point of comparing with the west is. On the other hand, I like our Indian clothes too, so I have a few of them.

        Coming back to the sari, I find it is a lovely garment, but not for me. I love the way I look in one, but I always feel like a damsel in distress wearing one, and I do not like the feeling, so I usually avoid.

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      • Fem,

        I love the way I look in one, but I always feel like a damsel in distress wearing one

        I wonder if you’d elaborate on that.

        It’s funny, because my girlfriend said almost the EXACT same thing to me a few days ago. She even phrased it similarly. I didn’t really get it at the time, and I think I just said “hey, whatever floats your boat” or something of that sort.

        But now I’m curious. What is it about a Saree that makes women feel like Damsels in Distress?

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        • For this reason. Let’s say you must run after a taxi. Oh no, sorry. Someone else must do it for you. Let’s say you must carry stack of boxes or books. Oh no, sorry. Someone else must do it for you. Let’s say someone invites you after work to play ball. Oh no, sorry. Only boys can go since girls are wearing a saree. Let’s say you must walk while it is windy and raining and you have things to carry. Oh, someone must carry your things for you as your hands are busy holding the folds in your saree. Etc, etc- damsel in the saree. I know many expert women and labor women can navigate these situations in a saree, but I cannot and I see no reason to spend my time learning when I can simply wear comfortable, practical clothing.

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      • Cynically Engineered,

        Look at it this way. High heels look good on women, but they are only to be worn on certain occasions, when you want to dress up, because they are EXTREMELY uncomfortable, and you really cannot do anything when you have them on. It is the same with saris. While I look all nice and dolled up in one, I simply can’t get any business done when wearing one, and it always feels like it is going to unravel at some point of time.

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      • very true IHM. How many westerners does one see, on a daily basis, dressed like this

        or this

        Unless it is for a festival!

        Me – Thank You Mandooka :)

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      • Ooooh! I wouldn’t mind buying one of those, Mandooka! The lady in orange and green looks especially fit! Me for this dress next wedding in the family! Oh wait, I don’t attend weddings! Damn!

        Me – LOL :)

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  3. Very interesting. Never considered that the blouse was a British introduction. But, I’m kinda curious because blouses have been around in Nepal, which was never under British rule (though a different kind of blouse) from when my great-grandmother was a kid.

    I was never raised wearing traditional clothes (pretty much the same as Indian traditional clothes) unless there was a ‘special’ occasion. My mom also wore jeans and sometimes salwar kameez in Nepal. I don’t think people wear ‘western’ clothes to be considered ‘modern.’ I think they wear western clothes because they are comfortable and tend to look better on people. If someone looked better in a Sari than a pant suit, then I’m pretty sure they’d wear a Sari.

    I just picked out my wedding dress and I am going with a western dress instead of traditional Indian clothes–same reason: comfort and it looks better.

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  4. I am Sikh and have worn a sari only two times in my life, both times at weddings. I think saris are beautiful and graceful and impossible to move freely in. Maybe with practice I could, but I have no wish to practice. I feel gift-wrapped in a sari, which is OK only if I have someone around I wish to unwrap me.

    Control by clothing can take other forms, too. My second husband, recently deceased, was a Western man who thought that a woman looked properly dressed up only in a dress. Pants or Punjabi suits were OK for everyday wear, but dress up had to be a DRESS. I hate dresses; I feel naked and exposed even in a longish dress. I personally dislike feeling naked and exposed, especially in public. I rarely ever wore a dress, but I would occasionally because I just got tired of fighting. One of the first things I did when he died was to toss every dress I owned into a box and give them to a local charity. I relish the thought of some destitute woman wearing a silk ballgown for the first time in her life. I pray that she appreciates it more than I did.

    Part of my point is that this control by clothing is common to many cultures. Men will try to control women in any way they can. What form our resistance takes will probably be culturally determined, though. My husband knew that if he pushed me too far, I could walk out. Most Indian women really don’t have that option.

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  5. Why don’t I wear a dhoti/kurta? That’s an interesting question.

    I don’t think it has that much to do with wanting to be seen as Westernized or anything. Not for me, at least. To the contrary, I find myself trying to smooth down any obviously “foreign” eccentricities in my speech and behavior patterns.

    The thing is, wearing trousers is pretty much the norm for Indian men in urban areas. It’s no longer considered an overly “Western” thing. No one’s going to consider a man westernized or sophisticated just because he wears trousers, but the same man would certainly get a few odd glances if he walked into a restaurant wearing a dhoti, say.
    And there’s also the little fact that trousers are a hell of a lot more convenient and practical than something like a dhoti.

    Still, I do sometimes abandon western clothing for a smart sherwani on special occasions. And I can look pretty good in it, even if I say so myself. ;)

    While a saree can be a very beautiful, graceful, even sensuous dress, practical considerations pretty much preclude wearing it on a daily basis (unless you’re so used to it that the inconvenience doesn’t even register in your mind). In the future, I think we’ll see more and more people moving toward comfortable, functional clothing for everyday use, and reserving the traditional stuff for marriage parties and such.

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  6. Interesting post IHM….

    Coming to ur qus, Why people moved on from traditional wear to Westernized….

    My take : There could have been many reasons :

    1. One of them , probably, was the British influence. They were here for almost 200 years , how can one not get influenced by the rulers !! After all there’s a sense of power attached to dress like someone who the society around considers to be superior.
    2. Another reason you, yourself, have explained in your post, that people who wear modern clothes are seen as more privileged. Most of the people have got conditioned (I reiterate point no. 1, the roots came from the British era only) now that they relate those traditional clothes to illiteracy and backwardness (just an observation, no offence intended). In fact, people who stay in small villages also prefer wearing the modern (westernized) outfits.
    3. Bollywood Effect : 70% of Indian population still lives in small towns and villages where people do copy bollywood celebrities’ dressing/ hair styles as it is !! Lets accept the fact that bollywood plays a big role in many Indian’s dressing style 
    4. None of the good Colleges (the ones with business-uniform) and good MNCs shall allow a man to wear a Kurta payjama to his college/work place. This is also one of the most important reasons.

    Now, the prevailing perceptions :

    1. Since people who study in good colleges and work with good MNCs wear formal westernized attire
    2. And People who study in good colleges and work with good MNCs are well educated
    3. Most of the bollywood celebrities dress up in traditional wear on rare occasions
    4. Society obviously respects people who study and work at renowned places

    So what do we expect from an average person to wear????

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  7. I think saree looks beautiful in Indian women. We have got narrow waistline, well, most people and it shows the shape of the body beautifully than in western clothes. Churidar also shows the famininity well, but jeans and shirt is worn just for comfort.

    I wear churidar at home and mostly saree, outside. I look better in saree!

    My naani wore blouses and my daadi had shaven head and wore no blouse. Everything has changed now. My mother had a teeka also after my dad expired. We insisted on it. A few of my relatives didn’t remove their mangalsutra after their husbands died.

    For our weather conditions kurta pajama is better for men. But men wear it occasionally. South Indian men feel comfortable in pant shirts! Dhoti is only for poojas and temple visits, that too is changing slowly!

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    • Sandhya, these changes are being brought in by family members of women who benefit from these changes!! I keep reminding my mother that if she ever gives in to traditional clothing rules, she would be doing a lot of harm to the women in coming generations, who can otherwise give her example (she is 71) when they are asked not to wear sleeveless blouses or asked to wear/not wear symbols of marriage etc.

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  8. When I wear a salwar kameez or jeans, the reason is simple – it covers every part of my body and its convenient when I have to run to catch my bus or run otherwise too:). Women salwars and kurtas are not considered traditional in the south because they belong to the north.. jeans because it is westernized.
    Sarees look beautiful no doubt but when you are used to these other clothes they are quite awkward to carry off. I drape them on occasions but somehow I cannot associate pride with them – salwars are equally Indian.

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  9. Gud post. Main factor that determines the Dressing behaviour of a Community is the weather. Other factors include Social hierarchies, occupation, Gender relations etc
    Sari will soon become or has already become a dress for special occasion. Is there an unwritten rule that women should always ‘dress up’ especially in a Sari for attending a marriage? Is it a Patriarchal custom?

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    • I think that women in general love to dress up, and marriages give us an opportunity to express that inner urge, even if we cannot bother in general. Besides, for some people it may be the only time they COULD dress up in saris. Never seen anything wrong with it.

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      • I have no idea. Personally, it depends on my mood. Also, nowadays men dress up well too for special occasions, unlike my parent’s generation. So perhaps, it was expected of men to look shabby and boring in the yesteryears?

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    • @Charakan–Interesting point, though I would disagree. When you look at luxury brands and their stores in India, far [FAR] more products are aimed at men than women.

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      • Fem,Kay,
        I am able to attend a wedding reception on my way back from work without a change of dress but my wife may be uncomfortable doing the same. Why? Patriarchal Conditioning ?

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      • @Charakan–that may be the case with you and your wife, but from what I’ve seen in India [mostly people in their mid 20s], the men have far more expensive watches and shoes than women. What surprises me further is that the men are quite girly in certain aspects like getting their eyebrows done.
        What surprises me the most is that in Canada and the US [and even Kathmandu], retailers generally target women. In India, it surprises me that the men’s department, if not the same size at the women’s department, seems to be bigger than the women’s department!

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      • Charakan,

        That may be just you. I have known so many male friends who would take their time to get dressed. One of my cousins actually took longer than the bride to get dressed, and we had to drag him from the salon to the marriage hall. So, as I said, perhaps it is expected of men in some circles to look unspecial even for special occasions. I personally would expect men to freshen up, and look good if I am throwing a special party. In fact, I am pretty sure this is not the norm any longer.

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      • Fem,Kay,
        My feeling is in most parts of India, Everything else being equal women are judged by their external appearance than men. Will u agree?

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      • @Charakan–I think that’s everywhere in the world. The more egalitarian a society becomes, the less women get judged on looks and the less men get judged on how much they make.

        However, I think that in India, money and family status seems to trump everything. I completely fail to understand why less than average looking and not talented offspring of have-been celebrities seem to get the golden staircase to excel in the Indian movie industry when the country has millions of other better looking and far more talented people around [but that’s an entirely different topic altogether].

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      • Charakan, if I would really be honest, then everyone is judged on looks. I have heard my grandmother say a million times. “Oh, what a handsome boy”. As many times as “What a beautiful girl.” (provided she liked their looks :P ) The impression that women’s looks are more important is a man-made assumption. However, for women, men’s looks are just as important. Ask any woman, and they will tell you that shabbily dressed women who don’t bother to enhance their natural attractiveness can be a put off. That’s natural.

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    • I do think there is a pressure on women to pay attention to their appearance that men don’t face. Just look at the sari itself – nine yards and complicated to drape (but more attractive) than a dhoti/kurta/sherwani/ whatever the male counterpart of a sari is. Women are expected to wear more ornamentation, put on more make-up. That we like to do so may be partly natural instinct and partly conditioning.

      That said, we have more choice in the matter now… so many of us that dress up for special occasions do so out of enjoyment.

      It cuts both ways too. Men were expected to be a little don’t-care about their attitude. But that’s changing which is good for the guys that actually enjoy grooming.

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      • Bride, My contention is this pressure on women to look and dress gud is because of Patriarchy. Many men like to ‘dress up’ but they do not have that much pressure to do it.

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      • “Bride, My contention is this pressure on women to look and dress gud is because of Patriarchy. Many men like to ‘dress up’ but they do not have that much pressure to do it.”

        I agree. I am just pointing out that the world is changing – and for some of us, male or female, dressing up has become a choice independent of patriarchal pressures. It may be a small majority and it may be hard to tell who is who. But we have to believe the influence of patriarchy will end somewhere and what I’m trying to say is that with some women, we may be witnessing this. Thus, these women have gone through the stage of dressing up due to patriarchal pressure, probably (but not necessarily) gone through a stage of not dressing up at all, and then begun dressing up purely because they want to or for reasons other than patriarchy.

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  10. Interesting responses from people on why they choose what. Generally, I think if people are given a choice, they’ll choose the one that most practically suits their lifestyle. The sari is beautiful but not as easy to run for a train in or even go to the loo in. Yes, women do it but I think given a choice they’d find trousers and a shirt or salwar kameez easier to be mobile in. Trousers are easier than a skirt – that’s why women fought for the right to wear them worldwide. A sari, or even a skirt, is a bit like high heels – lovely and does accentuate the figure but flats are easier to do stuff in.

    I find, though, that salwar kameez is a very popular choice among Indian women and many split quite evenly between salwar and trousers/jeans. I found salwar to be the best choice in summer, cooler than jeans definitely. And they get counted as more formal than jeans but as formal as a formal trouser depending on the kind you wear.

    For men too, trousers are easier to manage than dhoti or a lungi. But for men, I think the British influence in clothes – where to work for the British you had to adopt their dress and then that style of dressing came to symbolise in a positive way, the modern man – is more pronounced. Women have much more freedom to wear Indian dress to work, at least in white collar jobs, maybe because they entered that workforce after the British left. Just that I think many opt for salwar or western dress rather than sari out of convenience.

    I actually see a lot of fusion dressing going on in India, in addition to people opting for the strictly traditional, which I think is nice. When I was in college, we’d wear a long kurta with jeans. There are shirts tailored with Indian textiles and prints.

    Compare this to Hong Kong where NOBODY wear traditional Chinese dress, except MAYBE once on their wedding and even then they change several times.

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  11. Your observation on women being forced to wear sari really struck a chord. A friend of mine wears sari at home and switches to salwar kameez while going out. Because her in laws expect it. I was shocked to hear it. A generation before mine doing it may not have shocked me as much. As far as being comfortable in a sari – well the traditional way of wearing sari is certainly more comfy. Take a bengali style of sari draping – involves very little technique, gets secured very nicely and stays out of the way. No hassle at all. Even the 9 yards of cloth women of my community drape during ceremonial occasions is not bad – because it is like a semi dhoti. Everything stays in place. The 6 yard type is the problematic one. I’m sure I could drape 9 yards and drive my bike. Can’t say the same for the 6 yards!!

    I wear whatever I feel like. And for formal occasions like weddings or conferences, I wear sari. Because I know I’ll get driven around and I think I look better in a sari (you know why!). :)

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  12. I loved it when I wore a sari for the first time as a class XII student. The feeling was euphoric. The feeling quickly evaporated when I was ‘forced’ into wearing it post marriage by my in-laws, for every social outing, religious occasions…almost once a week…irrespective of the Delhi weather. I gradually realized its yet another way of controlling their personal property called DIL. Post divorce, i only wear it for job interviews, out of my own fee will.

    I know i look good in a Sari :) but I don’t find occasions worthy enough to put in the kind of effort sari wearing takes. With a small kid, I feel much more relaxed and confortable in heavy salwar suits while attending parties and weddings. Switching over to kurta-churidar/ trousers/ jeans is a matter of convenience for me…and in context of our great Indian culture where women are worshiped, a matter of having control on my situation.

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  13. I love saris and think they are really elegant. I enjoy wearing them on occasions. But off late, I’ve had a few thoughts crossing my mind.


    I find the sari a little oppressive. Both your legs are rolled into a single bundle. The fabric has many layers and covers you until your ankles. It kills your freedom to an extent. It’s made for women who can’t (don’t?) hike and climb, who can’t ride bicycles or sit on bikes (unless they want to sit with both their legs on one side). Both your legs being wrapped into a single unit seems oppressive to me. There are plenty of women in India who chose to wear a sari everyday. My mil is one of them. She refuses to even wear a salwar kameez now because she is so used to her legs being unseen, the thought of wearing a salwar kameez and having two independent limbs makes her feel naked. Years of wearing a sari has made her so conscious, she can’t face her own body now.

    I find that a little sad.

    I don’t think most women in India are “forced” to wear a sari. I think most of them do, because they don’t know any other way. And the conditioning has made it comfortable for them now.

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  14. Sari

    I adore the Sari, but I am not  fanatic about it.
    My wife wore only  saris all the time till about 10 years ago.
    She has since given up and nowadays wears it only on ceremonial occasions.  Her dress of choice  nowadays is a Salvaar Kameez both inside the house and outside. Earlier, she would dress in a sari always when out of the house and inside the house it was always a Nightie.

    I ALWAYS prefer to see her in a Sari. She looks absolutely stunning in a Sari and she carries it off very well. I have often told  her she could have been a model and posed for silk Saree showrooms if she had been a few inches taller.   These  days on the rare occasion I see her in a Sari, I pull out my cell phone and click away, while she blushes and protests and asks me to “act my age”. 

    However I fully appreciate the reasons why she has now given it up and chooses the salwaar kameez. 

    My daughter wore a Saree on only one occasion in her life and that was her wedding ceremony 10 years ago! I suddenly felt like an old man that day when I saw her in a saree and I felt  a lump in my throat. I don’t prefer to see her in a saree at all! I was glad she chose a fancy ghagra cholee for the reception.

    I too have moved with the times. Till about fifteen years ago it  used to be a lungi at home or pajamas with a vest covering my chest.

    Ever since Bermuda Shorts became fashionable, I have made it my dress of choice while at home. My legs aren’t too hairy and they suit me fine. Besides like a typical south Indian I was in the habit of folding up the dhotie/lungie and tying the bottom up around the waist, thus doubling it from waist to knee and keeping the legs below the knee, totally bare like   most South Indian men.. The Bermuda shorts did not feel too different and it saved me the bother of having to fold up the dhoti/lungi.  Along with the Bermuda shorts I alwys wear a tea shirt  at home . While going out I wear trousers and a tea shirt  except while going  to the office.

    To the office it  is always the usual trousers and a bush shirt or a full sleeved shirt on special occasions. On rare occasions I wear an odd coat. Only on religious occasions I wear a silk Veshti and “angavastram” which I am in a hurry to cast off as soon as the cermonies are over and the priests back is turned.

    I prefer modern dresses for daily regular use for two simple reasons.
    1) It is definitely more convenient while walking, taking the stairs and while driving a  vehicle, (both two wheelers and four wheelers) . I have often stumbled when wearing a dhoti and I always had a horror of the dhoti slipping off at the wrong time and place.

    2)It needs less effort, water and soap to  wash and less space on the clothesline when we hang them  out to dry. 

    I remember the several strings on the clothesline in our terrace in my old double storeyed house where I used to live till about 6 years ago. These were  needed to dry my wife’s sarees and also my Dhoties/lungies. Today, the whole family’s laundry is accommodated in the space that just one saree used to take when we hang our laundry out to dry in balcony of the apartment where I now live.

    Bottom Line :
    Advice to Indian women: Wear whatever you feel comfortable with but if you are posing for a picture and want to look your beautiful best, wear a  Saree!

    Regards
    GV

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    • //I have often stumbled when wearing a dhoti and I always had a horror of the dhoti slipping off at the wrong time and place.//

      hahahahaha! Same goes for me with the sari :D

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  15. I think the reason for the decline of sari is the way how it evolved over years. Seriously what chance does it have when more layers are added to it in our hot, humid climate. There is a tight bra, a tight blouse, a tight petticoat, which is so uncomfortable around the waist, and above all that a non-breathable synthetic sari, all this when the temperature outside is 35 C!!

    My great grandmother lived in the coastal region, and she wore a pure cotton sari without a blouse and a petticoat. And the sari was not worn all the way till the foot, like its worn today, but more like a dhothi to facilitate easy movement. The cloth itself was so soft to touch that even after the sari wore out, it was not disposed, but used as a bedspread for kids. My grandpa used to wear pure cotton, white dhothis, folded up till his knees, and used to ride his bicycle comfortably. My grandma wears only cotton saris with a loose fitting blouse at home. Men in my father’s generation still prefer wearing dhothis and lungis at home for comfort. Women in my mom’s generation mainly wear cotton saris for daily wear, but prefer synthetic saris for outside wear, as cotton saris tend to fade quickly. Women in my generation mainly wear sweatpants and T-shirts at home, men have shifted to shorts.

    Ultimately both men and women want comfort clothing, be it western or Indian.

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  16. Let me make my point. In Kerala most of the men take pride in wearing Mundu with shirt and most of the women take pride in Sari. Here jeans is seen as something teenage fashion not for the matured. Different perception. :) When you are travelling in bike or public transport its not that easy while wearing mundu or sari. That remains the main concern why people switch to churidar or pants.

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    • In Kerala elders/men still think women should wear sari. That is the biggest influence as to why they still stick to it, not pride in it.

      Give them a choice and they WILL opt for a more convenient dress for themselves.
      The ‘nightie’ culture in Kerala is an example to show that women don’t actually prefer wearing sari. The ‘nightie” has been accepted by the men and elders of most families by now. So most women find relief from the oppressive sari by wearing ‘nightie’ at home. (In fact you find people going to market and post office in ‘nighties’). If free choice existed, they would ditch sari as daily wear and switch to salwars/churidars.or even trousers and jeans.

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  17. Now, this is a topic that I have dissected over and over in my mind.

    If a lady likes to wear a sari out of her own choice, I find it acceptable and respect her choice. However, per my observation, in India a sari is more often than not, something akin to a uniform for the School of Married Women and that’s what gets my goat. I know so many of my peers who gave away they perfectly wearable and decent jeans/tops/salwar-kameezes prior to their weddings because they would not longer need them.

    Personally, I detest the sari very much. Not from the point of view of practicality or such but because I have come to see it more as an instrument to control and subjugate a young woman. In my previous marriage, I was forced to wear a sari, all the time, at all hours, no matter what the weather, whereas the ex-MIL sat the whole time on the couch, in comfortable salwar-kameezes. In the same vein, I dislike all the other trappings of a married woman like mangalsutra et al, mainly because these were forced down my throat.

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  18. this post reminds me of a conversation i had with one of my mother’s friends. we were out shopping (me, mum, mum’s friend and her daughter). before getting into the car, aunty’s daughter told her, ‘wear your bindi, mum’. after a while, when we were in the car, and aunty hadn’t yet worn her bindi, her daughter said it again, and this time, in a slightly exasperatedtone. i couldn’t stop myself from saying, ‘so what if she doesn’t wear a bindi? big deal ya. i think she’s looking nice this way also.’ my mum gave me THE look (you know, the kind mums give you when they think you’re talking too much?!) and then aunty responded, ‘I’m not liberated like your mom, beta’ and she wore her bindi.
    mum and i looked at each other. we really didn’t know how to react. i guess the girl was just used to seeing her mum wearing a bindi. maybe she thought she looked better with it. but then again, maybe, just maybe, it was a tradition, a value that came into place. the value that married women should wear red bindis.
    what confused and surprised me was, that its a girl from my generation whose thinking like this. not a mother in law. but a daughter. :/

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      • Oh well, I recently reminded my mum to wear her bindi too as soon as we got into the car. It didn’t mean much – it’s just that I’m used to seeing her wear a bindi everyday, so her face looked different, kind of dull without the bindi, so I reminded her to wear it.

        It’s no different from how I remind my friend to wear kajal because she usually wears it every day, and she actually looks like she’s unwell if she doesn’t wear it on one day.

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    • I don’t mind saris, but don’t get me started on bindis. If I had a rupee for the number of times I have told nosy old men and women, whose business it wasn’t anyway (and whom I don’t even know that well) that, no matter what the occasion, who’s coming to dinner, how much part of our heritage it is, how beneficial to health it is, how beautiful I look with one, I will NOT wear a bindi, I would be a millionaire now with a bindi factory of my own. I would NEVER wear one even if the world was going to end and I was told I could save it by wearing a bindi. Everyone will just have to accept that we are all going to die, because I will NOT WEAR A BINDI!! Pfffaaaaahhhh!!! [/rant]

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  19. I can wear the sari well – because it was imposed on my every day for four years in college. The first year they said it was not a requirement, this changed in year two. I call that cheating since the two things I wanted in a college and explicitly asked were promised and withdrawn. My point – I can wear the sari real well, real fast. It looks good, I can walk and run and do everything in it that I can in a salwar. So let’s not only talk of the usual convenience and ability to wear as the culprits.

    A sari shows parts of me that I would prefer to keep untouched by strangers. Yeah, ‘eve teasing’ aka sexual harassment is a tad more personal (than it already is) in a sari. Several different pieces are less comfortable (I omit a dupatta for the same reason), I don’t need to worry about flyaway parts getting caught in cycle wheels with jeans! If someone has chosen to do it and is comfortable, more power to them. Just because there was no choloroform, operations were done in the past without anesthesia! By the way, the reason a salwar was not acceptable clothing to my college was because it was a ‘mughal’ dress.

    If we want a blanket ban on western influences, let’s also include tomatoes, potatoes and chillies among the several vegetables that we consider indigenous now. In fact the indigenous Brinjal is the one vegetable that a majority loves to hate!

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  20. What an interesting discussion, IHM! I remember this issue from when Shashi Tharoor moaned about the “disappearing” sari, and women all over the web, replied; this was my take :

    http://www.fridaynirvana.com/fiction/2007/03/shashi-tharoor-sari-fate.html

    I’m in the US, wear a sari about once/twice a year, and salwar-kameez about 10-15 times/year. Rest of the time, it’s pants/dresses. I love the sari, but wear it only when I feel I have to sit/relax etc. (weddings/functions). Interestingly, my mom in India, in her 60s now, has once again started wearing pants, after about 2 decades of not wearing them. Western notions of dressy involve dresses/gowns, often off-the-shoulder, with high heels – just as impractical for “work” as a traditionally worn sari.Why do all notions of dressy, be it Indian/Western, leave women incapacitated/bound up in layers of messy clothing and heavy jewelery? Patriarchy, you say ? :-)

    Me – The idea of women looking attractive only when they are dressed in particular ways could be a gift from Patriarchy, also objectification of women. I think a healthy, active, confident, strong, happy woman should be seen as good looking, not a stumbling, hampered, uncomfortable damsels in distress (quoting from Fem’s comment).

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  21. I wish we could see clothing as just “clothing” rather than a national symbol (saree), in terms of western influence, as a measure of independence, liberal mindset etc. And “clothing” should just be left at a personal preference. I wouldn’t die of shock if some day saree becomes extinct. I wouldn’t feel sad or happy if it does. All fashions and types of clothing undergo cycles. They are bound to become extinct some day and bound to come into use some day later. I wish we could stop attaching so much importance to clothes and just let the individual wear what he/she prefers. And that preference can be based on anything-be it convenience, the individual thinking she/he looks good in it or less maintenance.

    I personally do not like to wear a saree. Not also on special occasions. The first time I wore it was last year during my wedding.

    And as my MIL says, the more I wear it the more comfortable I will be in it. That is true…As it is with anything you do over an extended period of time. We are animals of habit. If I practice writing poetry everyday, I know some day I will be able to write 2 sentences that rhyme BUT is the effort worth the result? NO (in my perspective). Same goes to a saree. I dont think days of un-comfortable-ness till one fine day I am comfortable in it, is worth the result (of being comfortable in a saree).

    Me – I agree My Punching Bag.

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  22. I love sarees and choose to wear them when I am in the mood for one- the occasion really does not matter. I am quite comfortable in them, I can do most things in them – except hike or play basketball (then again I would wear specific sports clothes for that anyway) For me wearing a saree means, I feel like getting dressed up like wearing make-up or fancy jewellery or high heels for some may be.
    Its a part of my wardrobe like my jeans, kurtas, skirts and capris.
    But as a teenager I had to fight to wear jeans with my parents, I could wear skirts but god forbid the jeans that showed the contour of your ass and legs :-) Once the initial battle was won, my younger sisters faced no issues. Today my mom can barely remember she once asked me not to wear jeans – it seems so normal to her :-)
    I think that’s says it all, anything new is seen as a threat, it just takes getting used to.

    For my mom, it was a struggle to wear salwars both with her in-laws and her parents. She moved from half-sarees – (southern attire for adolescent and un-married women) to saris. When she wanted to wear Salwars there were some eyebrows raised, but it didn’t stop her.

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  23. P.S: I don’t think saris are going to die as long as I am alive and bengali, oriya and north eastern cotton saris are still available :-)
    I love them!

    Don’t you think Kurtas for men are coming back into fashion thanks to brands like Fabindia? They even make these dhoti like pyjamas for men.

    Fashion like many other things works in circles, what goes out of fashion comes back in a few decades.

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  24. Sari is a great concept, makes a person look very feminine and classy, yet dignified. It has only one drawback which you mentioned – nowadays it classifies women (together with jewelery) in a very instrumental way. Because when you walk down the street, who’s business it is if you are married/single/from a conservative or liberal family/ poor, rich or middle class/ religious or atheist?

    Maxis/nighties are just atrocious. I’m sorry to say it, but they are on the extreme opposite to saris. In Europe even grandmas wouldn’t wear such a thing. Not at night, not during the day, and god forbid – never outside! I guess nighties are like a loud cry for comfort which cannot be achieved in formal clothing. Still, a horrid solution.

    As to the “middle ground” aka salwar kameez – a perfect solution for the hot climate.

    Western clothing is usually treated by Indians as either a statement-maker (I’m a liberal person) or an insult to Indian culture (West is overtaking everything!) I see no sense in both. While western clothes are often on the more comfortable side (cotton with 1-3% stretch/lycra is the most common fabric for all types of inner/outer wear), some clothes would definitely not stand the test of temperature.

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  25. Speaking of Saris, In the West, you get a lot more attention wearing a sari, than wearing a skimpy pair of shorts, or a dress that shows some cleavage. “Exposing” the waist is considered way more sexier! :D

    I strongly hold that the typical Indian “hourglass” figure (narrow waists and all) look gorgeous in a well-draped sari (and the sari camouflages your heels very well, should you choose to augment your height :P) but it is just too much work. I only wear Saris when I think the extra effort is well worth it – emceeing a cultural event, say,or a best friend’s wedding, but that’s about it.

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  26. Sari->salwar-kameez->jeans and kurti->jeans and t-shirts->skirts/dress(frocks)->shorts/minis is considered the travel path from being super-orthodox to ultra-modern. I have no idea how this path came into existence. Once when my in-laws came to visit me, I wore a saree for the informal griha-pravesh ceremony. My MIL was wearing a salwar-kameez. When she saw me, she changed into a saree too, thinking when her jethani sees the pictures, she would comment, ‘Look bahu’s wearing sari but saas isn’t’. Her jethani had passed that comment once on her.

    Saree makes me feel handicapped. But I do like to wear a saree for occasions when I want to look elegant and no productivity is expected of me. The analogy is similar to high-heels. Looks before comfort (once in a while).

    I prefer buying expensive sarees for events as opposed to salwar kameez because they are ‘one-size-fits-all’, so more durable over the years in spite of weight gain or loss. All you need to do is alter the blouse and there are always multiple seams for multiple fittings. Plus, most part of the blose is hidden and safety pins help too.

    For everyday-wear, I have to conform to my company’s dress-code, which is business casuals (Pants/Skirts and top). Weekends are all jeans.

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  27. I was having a discussion with my friends the other day about how the woman and the in laws need to compromise to live together.

    Strangely, it seemed to me that it was only the newly married woman who did the compromising – never the other way around. Specifically, the question revolved around the in laws being strict vegetarians and the bride being a non-veg.

    When she comes to stay with the husband/in laws, how is this handled?

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    • They ‘find’ a bride who is the same as them or more strict (going the no-garlic, no-onion route) or the non-veg bride has to give it up, i.e. ‘compromise’?

      Cook at home in a strict veg household? If they allow non-veg to be cooked at home, they’ll lose their strict veg standing. How will head be held high in the ‘shiva shiva’ circles?!

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  28. Some of the reasons why Western clothes were accepted are weird… !!!

    you know I worked in sales and there is this silly thing that all sales people must wear ties and look spik and span !!! I mean in 45 degree heat when you have to go in the field how can you hope someone should wear a tie ??? When I worked for Max New York Life they wanted me to wear a blazer and go for a call to impress the client !!!!

    I was like dude you gotta be serious to hope that from me in 45 degrees ! I aint sitting in AC all day and the Suit and the tie was devised by people in the West where it is freezing cold and they ought to be covering themselves up… !!!

    We were supposed to wear practically loose kurta’s and Dhoti’s !!!!! :P :P :P

    Amazingly clothing has got universal and now defies weather norms… Some of the older dresses in India do seem like they were a result of the weather… !!!

    However dont ask me about the discrimination… that is a completely different thing altogether… !!!!

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    • Yes, However much I think men look elegant and awesome in full suits, I would never expect them to dress up in it everyday. Special occasions, perhaps ;) But seriously, even the most average looking man looks gorgeous in suits *swoons*

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    • As someone who had to deal with the BO of such salespeople dressed in suits, I fully agree that our weather’s meant for comfortable clothes. Still not a sari but salwars work so well!

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    • In Hong Kong, too the suit and tie has become ubiquitous and is totally unsuitable for the weather half the year round. It also has consequences on the environment – the air con temperature in offices is freezing cold to keep these suited guys comfortable (while the women shiver in shawls) leading to higher carbon emissions. A couple of years ago, the chief executive launched a no-tie initiative and a couple of banks have followed, by allowing non-frontline staff to wear just shirt and trousers.

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  29. for men they keep wearing what they wore at school, that is normal shirt and pants.. for women they can choose to wear whatever they want but most of it is peer influenced dressing,, it all depends on what strata or neigbourhood you are born, and the dressing adjusts according to the surrounding..

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  30. I haven’t read all the comments, but as a 22 year old college student, I have a slightly different perspective.

    Coming from a metropolitan city, *everybody* my age wears western clothes. Period. Personally, I have had problems with jeans for quite a while. All the women’s jeans are form fitting and rather tight. They are all low waisted, and finding a pair or jeans which do not sit so low that everybody can see your underwear everytime you sit down, or bend is a problem. Moreover, putting on even a little bit of weight makes the jeans uncomfortable to wear.

    Conversely, I find the salwar kameez incredibly comfortable. I do not wear dupattas when I wear it, unless it’s a special occasion. They give you the same comfort as a pair of pajamas, and allow you to appear in public wherever you want! :D

    Funnily enough, I actually feel a certain social awkwardness in donning a kurta and salwar. Most of my peers only wear western wear. Even my mother has started bemoaning the fact that I don’t like wearing jeans anymore. I actually feel the social sanction in the other direction. I find a kurta and salwar combination far more comfortable and practical than jeans.

    As for sarees, I have worn them only thrice in my lifetime, and been surprisingly comfortable with it. Would I wear it on a regular basis? No. But I would love to wear it occasionally. In the social circles around me, I have hardly seen any coercion for women to wear sarees, unless it’s a wedding or a pooja. My mother refuses to wear sarees anywhere, and doesn’t wear a mangalsutra or a bindi either.

    Although… as an aside. The domestic help I have seen in most places invariably wear sarees, and accomplish a lot of difficult manual household work in that attire! I wonder how they do it.

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    • I actually feel the social sanction in the other direction

      So if you’re an Indian woman, you can either be, you know, docile and submissive OR you can be some sort of uber-cool, fake, Rockstar persona. What you cannot be, is an individual with personal preferences in clothing that are NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS.

      I wonder how long it’ll take people (from everywhere, not just India) to stop being so neurotically obsessed with what other people are doing. No, this blogger is NOT holding his breath. :/

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  31. Ultimately it is all about wearing what you feel comfortable in. I love salwar Kameezes and don’t enough opportunities to wear them here. In India I wear them most times , basically because they are all cotton and with the humidity it works better. I remember the first time I wore a sari- i was very uncomfortable , not because of the layers , but because it exposed my stomach and midrif , something that I wasn’t and still am not comfortable doing . of course it gets covered up but when the wind blows you can definitely feel it all around !

    Most often yes, saris are a restriction imposed after weddings – more so when you attend social functions you are supposed to be all grown up suddenly – which i have observed my friends do. I was told to not wear sleeveless salwars or blouses when in-laws had function get togethers(which i ignore when I can). Of course, a micro micro sleeve would do, but not a sleeveless ! Funny how restrictions have started changing according to the times.

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  32. Not sure if i am right in saying this, but why would I want to show my mid waist (while in a saree). I am rather comfortable in salwar kameez that is comfortable and covers my whole body.

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  33. I am not a sari person. I have worn it during special occasions like some of the weddings , celebrations in college and some temple visits. I do know how to drape it, in a couple of forms. Whenever I am clad in a sari, I look forward to getting out of it. Below are my primary reasons:
    1. Sari makes it very difficult to pee. You come out looking crumpled.
    2. If I had to run for my life in a sari, my chances are pretty slim.
    3. A lot of attention is required to keep everything in place.

    4. People find me sexy (if not sexier) in a sari. This does not make my life easier.
    5. The pallu of a sari slightly misplaced vs dupatta of a salwar misplaced (both unintentionally), the message conveyed is drastically different. Both happen.

    The above describes only me in my family. My sister is pretty comfortable in saris and she wears it more often. My mom wears only saris and the traditional kerala ‘two piece’ set mundu.
    Her night wear is the ‘nightie’. My mother in law wears sari outside of home and inside she wears the ‘nightie’.

    Any thing that does not limit my freedom of movement and does not require constant attention to hold together works for me.

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  34. I have a love/hate relationship with the saree. Just like I have love/hate relationship with high heels. Both make me look prettier but both are tedious (for me). Some days I feel it is worth the challenge to look pretty and some days I feel like chucking them out. IT IS A PERSONAL PREFERENCE!

    But you know what? It took me lot of years to come to this nonchalant state. Because as I stepped into womanhood, I was told very strongly by people of no consequence to me that I needed to dress in a particular way and in that way only. So I rebelled. I wore only “western” clothes even though my body type was not suited to them. I swore off traditional clothes with a vengeance and it was some time before I could wear a saree and feel pretty.

    In the end, clothes are just that..clothes. I do not dress in a particular way to specifically displease anyone. I dress so that I feel pretty. And if sarees are going extinct, it is sad, but really, no one can do anything about it.

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  35. I would like to share my thoughts as a professional working woman. I only started wearing sarees (mainly cotton handlooms) professionally when I moved to India. I wear them for two reasons – a) I love draping myself in something I know a person has created with their own hands and imagination b) the variety we have in design, fabric and colour is incredible and enormous. For me, it’s a way to take pride in my identity as an Indian. I wear them once a month, simply because I am yet to become good at draping them to my satisfaction in less than 10 minutes. Incidentally, I also wear knee length skirt-suits, pants, dresses and salwars to work – basically, whatever I am in the mood for. I have worked in the US and UK, and never felt the need to wear a certain type of clothing because I believe that what I look externally should align with what I feel internally. The only reason I didn’t wear sarees professionally in the US is because I worked in a lab, and I never knew when bleach or acid would stain my outfit. A labcoat only offers that much protection.

    Saree wearing and the Office, two observations:
    1. I am sad to hear my female colleagues shun the saree as laborious and restrictive. Somehow in my age group (32), wearing a saree implies dressing for a wedding or important occasion. Consequently, my female colleagues and friends are very self-conscious in one. And as we know, the more self-conscious you are, the more you invite unsolicited attention.
    2. A minor problem I face is that it takes time to build your saree accessory wardrobe – each saree requires blouse + petticoat. While the petticoat can be a standard white or black, the blouse is trickier. The mix and match is harder to do on the saree + blouse combo. While you can slap on a white/ black salwar easily as a bottom, matching a saree with white/ black blouse can sometimes be aesthetic suicide.

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  36. I’m Canadian and here mostly young unmarried girls wear them at wedding parties. Iv never really seen many older woman wearing one.
    I wore one for the first time this summer and I was really excited.
    However I had to go to a salon because I didnt know how to put it on
    I felt like I had to limit my movements to keep it in place, it was so uncomfortable
    And like Wanderer said its a mission to pee in I thought the whole thing was going to unravel and fall apart
    Guys find it really sexy here, but if you were getting it on with a guy I dont think it would be so sexy, it took me ten minutes to get all the pins out and take it off

    I kind of think saris are what corsets and dresses were to woman in the west, they were uncomfortable and restriciting and they started wearing trousers instead which caused controversy

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  37. Interesting piece. For me it boils down to a matter of personal choice. There are occasions when I prefer wearing a sari and there are others when I opt for western wear. As long as limits are kept, rules – rational ones – of ‘civil’ society are maintained, I do not see a problem in what a woman decides to wear.

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  38. I hate sari. Period. It has been rammed down my throat as the best and MOST Indian of all dresses from the time I was born which is pretty long back. And my reply to it was and is, “SO??!!” Is it necessary that we wear the “best” or the “most Indian” (debatable)?! Why is it not acceptable that we wear what we find comfortable or to our liking?! Beats me. Yeah, we Indians have this superiority complex when it comes to sari. It may be the best and sexiest (as vouchsafed by most all men) to many, but sorry, I disagree. I find it the most unwieldy dress only good for times when people want to ‘dress up’ for whatever reason.
    Of course in the 80s my MIL thought salwars and churidars were not for married women, only sari was. :P Jeans and trousers were nowhere i the picture. Imagine draping five and a half metres of cloth around you day in and day out! I think its a crazy world which stops you from wearing something comfortable and insists you wraps yourself in metres and metres of cloth day and night! I smarted at the injustice of it all. The men were relaxed in their simple wear either dhoti or bermudas at home, while women were (still are in many places) forced to walk around with all five and a half metres. WHY?!

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  39. I feel dressing should be about convinience. Sarees are a little inconvinient especially if you have to travel in crowded local trains and buses, with “hopeless lovers” (that’s the soon to be politically correct term for eveteasers*) who would hold the fabric when the women tries to disembark resulting in a lot of embarassment for the women.
    Frankly, I am not opposed to Saris, I like them, think they’re sexy….esp the synthetic ones with gloss in darker tones, like dark Maroon or light blue ones.

    Now as to whether a women should wear it, its her choice. like any other dress. Saaris can be hazardous as you correctly pointed out. Its a priviledge for rich women who travel in cars or live close to their work places, or housewives who don’t travel that much. A working woman might find it hard to pull off, esp if she is a social worker who has to go to remote villages on trekkers

    As for men who like to enforce Saaris on their wives, I’d like to refer to my ex-girlfriends response when I propositioned that she present at a conference wearing a Sari(a dark maroon one made of some sort of silk), she said she would do it,if I’d present in a Dhoti.**

    *It can happen
    ** I tried to borrow a Dhoti because I love challanges, but no one I knew had one, so the point was moot

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  40. Having said that, I think Saris are rather resourceful to carry around in your back packs. Its a nice unconventional dress(as in not too many people wear it in cities these day). It can be used as a rope, as a nice blanket, a rope, a tent….

    Ofcourse you wouldn’t want to wear it, after its gone through all this…

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  41. When I was in my early twenties, it was expected that I would wear a sari for every wedding or family function that I attended. I rebelled and ended up hating the sari for a long, long time – my mother would have to plead with me to wear a sari, and even if I gave in, I’d take it off as soon as I could.

    However, over the years I have come to love the sari. Especially after living away from home – when there were no expectations on what I should wear. Once I was free of expectations, I realised I look very nice in a sari, and now I try to wear it for every wedding I attend and for some festivals also. I’m also comfortable wearing a sari now – I cannot run/ride a bike in a sari, but I have danced for hours in a sari, slept in a sari – so I’m getting more comfortable in it.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t bothered to learn to drape a sari, so that’s on my to-do list now. Once I get the hang of it, I would like to pick up some nice cotton saris, and wear a sari atleast once a month to office. Like Megha above said, its a nice way of expressing my identity as an Indian, and looking different.

    On a daily basis though, I mostly wear jeans/trousers with shirts or salwar suits to work. And because I have to wear them everyday, I don’t really like them – they are comfortable for the tasks that my daily life entails but I am not fond of them at all (not even jeans). On days when I go out to socialise, have fun or go on holiday, I almost never wear jeans/trousers/salwar suits – you will see me in skirts, dresses, leggings, shorts and brightly coloured pants (think red, pink, green etc.).

    Atleast for me, it is obvious that the way I feel towards clothes is dependent on the amount of freedom I have about whether or not to wear them.

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  42. saris look quite nice to wear, personally i like salwar khameez better but then again everyone has their own prefernces.its almost like jeans and tshirt but its longer so you dont have worry about your “plumbers crack” showing
    i have question and i realize its maybe not appropriate but im really courious
    before the advent of nappies and always, how did women in india deal with menstruating?
    i mean menstruating a sari must be quit tough (without underwear and nappies?)?
    does anyone know?

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  43. Those who prefer to see women in saris often criticize women in western wear as ‘liberated, modern, westernized’ women.

    One of my uncles is of this view-when you’re married you should stop dressing up in westerns and when you have kids you should even stop dressing up in salwar suits..saree is the best option for any woman going forward [post children]

    when some of us cousins try to argue or reason with him he curtails the discussion by saying that ‘you all are westernized now and hence you won’t understand my point of view and that how right I’m!’

    huh!

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