Sari-brating In Delhi

A few days ago we, my co-volunteers and I, were fortunate enough to have been invited to a wedding. Shishir and Minrose were holding their 3rd wedding which ran for three nights. Yes, 3rd! The lovebirds first got married in Sidney, Australia; then in the Philippines (because Minrose is a Filipino like me), and then last was the one in Delhi which I was lucky to have been dragged into.


Shishir and Minrose, 30th December 2012

I was looking forward to the occasion for many reasons but to finally don my first sari was probably the most highlighted, although I secretly nurtured a sort of anxiety after hearing some haters blabber about non-Indian women committing the sin of cultural appropriation.

I honestly didn’t see the ‘insult’ that these haters were claiming. For a person to take extra measures by immersing herself in the culture, this takes guts; and for her to step away from the familiar to the unfamiliar, this is an effort that many, I believe, appreciate. Truth be told, many locals here were the ones who suggested that it was only appropriate for us to wear saris and even went to great lengths of rummaging through their wardrobes to lend us one. My friend, Conie, was a clear proof of this when she experienced the Delhi women’s generosity after being given an array of saris to choose from for the wedding that we were attending.

Conie's Goodies

Conie’s goodies!

The point is, seriously, there was nothing wrong with the picture. Wearing the sari, as long as it was worn properly and on an event that will not degrade what it represented, then it was fine. We, in the Philippines, apply the same principle.

As what you all know, my country is home to many tribes and each tribe prides itself with its own ensemble. As far as I can remember, not one tribe have ever considered a foreigner’s initiative to wear their traditional garb as a confiscation or degradation of something that was exclusive. In fact, foreigners were welcomed to be part of the circle, just as long as they do not disrespect the tribe by wearing the ensemble in accordance to what current fashion dictated or by wearing it to a place that will bring the tribe dishonor. I guess it boils down to cultural sensitivity.

In our case, there were no rules broken. We wore it during a wedding and carefully followed the instructions on how one should wear a sari. Trust me, when I said carefully, I was not exaggerating. We were so obsessed with complying that it took us almost two hours to finish the task. We even watched a video in youtube because Conie seemed to be uncertain if she remembered the instructions given by her colleagues correctly and also just to make sure that Gera (another volunteer) was not pulling anyone’s leg. There was a commotion about how many drapes, where the heck is the pallu, how do you make the darn pleats, and should the sari be falling off like that. In the end though, we didn’t look so bad-looking after the 2-hour fuss.


Ate Arlene and me, helping Tita Rose with her Bengali-inspired sari

When we told some local women at the wedding how long it took us to adorn ourselves with their beloved sari, they laughed because it usually took them 15 minutes tops. However, they quickly assured us that it was an easy task for them because it was a habit. Obviously, like all other habits, this too takes a little getting used to.

Actually my sari was the easiest to drape. The pleats were ready-made and all I had to do was to find the right hooks for my figure and I was set to go. But, this didn’t mean that the whole time I was wearing the sari was a complete walk in the park. Other than the winter chill was biting my ass, keeping the sari from falling off (despite the hooks and pins) was something that kept me preoccupied. I couldn’t wait to go home and change into my pajamas. I told everyone that one sari experience was enough for me to last a lifetime. It was great and that was that.

Here I am rocking my first (and last) sari.

Tutuontherun wearing a sari

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  1. You actually look good in your sari Den 😉

    • doi, mu-automatic lagi imung comment without my approval…hmmmm…but i love your comment doiskie…thanks! happy 2013, when ka adto diri?