Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The saris here are so beautiful that each one could make you fall down and die. And there are hundreds of them.

For the actual wedding, I wore a sari. I was apprehensive about it, worried about looking like a tool. But in truth I stood out so much in western clothes on the first night (it was just me and the Chicagoans/Australians) that wearing a sari was the right choice.

We picked up the sari from the tailor, who charged only 135 rupees ($4) for all that work. the blouse fit perfectly. Having no idea how to wear a sari, I wore regular clothes to the main hotel, where I would get help from someone to put it on.

One of the cousins helped me. I put on the petticoat (a long cotton skirt that the sari gets tucked in to) and the blouse (on which I had misidentified front and back), and then she helped me put on the sari.

She started by tucking an edge into my waist on the right side, the tucking it all the way around. When she got back to the front, she folded several layers into pleats together, and tucked that portion into the front of my waist and pinned the folded portion together with a jeweled pin. Then she draped it over my left shoulder and pinned it up at either shoulder. the rest of the fabric draped over my left arm. She showed me how to hold it when I walk. For the finishing touch, she put a pink sparkly bindi on my forehead.

The sari was a big hit. Mrs. Sharda (Auntie) - the woman who helped me put everything together - said it was a very Rajasthani sari, with the bright colors and the tie-and-dye color pattern.

At the wedding ceremony, I got lots of questions of whether I was feeling comfortable in the sari. I can see why it would be difficult - it is a lot of fabric, you hold part of it in your left hand, and you have to move carefully - but I actually found it to be very comfortable. It is very beautiful but not revealing. In western dresses you're always worried about being exposed by a slipping strap or a short skirt. In a sari, there is no such problem, and as long as you move with the fabric, it feels quite nice.

The sisters, my new friends from the Chak & Mamera, found me while we were waiting for the procession in the tented hallway, which was soaked from the rain, packed with people and extremely stuffy. They held my hands, smiled and tilted their heads, clucking in pride over my sari. They said I looked like an Indian. I said I was still sweating like an American.

The first night, in my western dress, I got stared at constantly, and everyone was curious to know who I was. I was told that the prevailing theory was that I was Anita's sister-in-law, Mike's sister. Which is interesting, since I am not Korean. But they insisted there was a resemblance. The second night, in the sari, I got significantly fewer curious stares. Still some, but I felt much less out of place. The only comments I got were the surprise over my toe ring (which I had forgotten all about because I've had it so long) - not because it was there, but where was the one on the other side?!? And also there was much concern over my lack of bangles. I had six- three on each arm - that Anita lent me, but the women here usually wear many bangles covering both forearms.

I didn't feel silly in the sari at all. On the contrary, it was like learning a few words in a foreign language. No matter how much you screw up the pronunciation, people appreciate that you made the effort.

1 comment:

sarah jo said...

can't wait to see all your pictures!