A Sad, Sari Tale

Thursday, October 9, 2008
I’ll admit it. I’m 34 years old and still can’t put a sari on myself.

This is a major drag, especially around this time of year with all the Navratri and Diwali events. I end up sheepishly asking my mother-in-law to do it, then have to make all sorts of plans to go to her house beforehand to get it done. If it comes undone at the event, I have to grab a random auntie in the bathroom to help me fix it. Of course, this is always accompanied by unwanted body comments. “Still flabby in the belly region? Haaa, I know beta, we Indian women have that problem!”

What’s my damage? I’ve had a sari put on me probably fifty times. I’ve graduated from college, had career success, gotten married, given birth. So why do I have such a mental block about wrapping a long piece of cloth around my body?!

My sister says it’s all about confidence. She told me she finally put one on herself for the first time this month: “My mother-in-law was in the living room, but I was like damn it, I am NOT going to ask her! So I just started doing it, pulled it really tight, put a couple of safety pins in, and came out. My mother-in-law almost fainted when she saw me.”

I’ve tried before, but I always end up doing it wrong. As we all know, when it’s worn properly, a sari can make us feel feminine, graceful, even sexy. Worn badly, it can make us feel like this poor woman.

There are also so many ways to put on a sari, and so many little tricks. Make sure the petticoat is tied so tight it’s uncomfortable! Put a safety pin in the pleats so they don’t come out! Pull it tight across your body so it looks fitted! But which way do those damn pleats go, left to right? Right to left? And what are you supposed to do with that bit of cloth that always hangs out on the side of the pleats?? I swear, graduate school was easier than this.

I was talking with some girlfriends about this last night. Only one out of the four of us knew how to put one on. She said she learned by trial-and-error. She would put the sari on as best as possible, and then her mom, mother-in-law, or an auntie would then fix it. So then we all resolved to learn how to put on a sari. Next month we’re taking our kids to a baby garba, and we’ll all be wearing saris we put on ourselves. We may look end up looking like a group of multicolored marshmallows, but it’s the only way we’ll learn.

Eventually, we’ll get it right. Then, when it’s my daughter’s turn to wear a sari, I won’t have to tell her to go to some other auntie for help.
Anu said...

I think that knowing how to wear a sari is one of those many things that we're judged by. I go to a wedding and an aunty will say "Oh, you know how to wear a sari? Good girl!"

seema said...

that's so funny, i used to go through that all the time! then i went to india and put a sari on practically every day for two weeks and that really helped. try looking it up on youtube, they have some good how to videos

regina said...

reading this made me laugh! i'm one of 2 friends in our circle who can put on a sari... this means, not only do we dress ourselves for weddings/events, we dress at least 2-3 friends each ;-) and, of course, we bring enough pins for all those half-naked devis lost in the restrooms! i work in the bay area, would be happy to teach any of you how to put a sari on ;-)

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You can always have your saree turned in to a readymade saree!

We post new saree designs everyday, check it out sometime.

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