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Born Again Indian

Born Again Indian

June 07, 2012

Reconnecting with my roots during my first Indian wedding and sari experience. 

Well, it’s certainly been a weekend of firsts; my first ever Indian wedding, coupled with my first sari experience. I suppose this might come as a shock to most people (my friends were all impressively bug-eyed when I told them) but in my defense, I’ve never had a chance before! What with continually moving around from country to country, infrequent visits back home, and too many teenage years spent rebelling, the opportunity never seemed to present itself. And besides, my formative years were spent in the Seychelles - it’s not like I could’ve just rocked up to a mate’s beach party in full Indian garb. 

Now, I’ve watched my mother’s deft hands pleating a sari countless times over the years. So when the time came for me to wear one myself, I was pretty confident I’d know what I was doing. But there’s a marked difference between mere observation and actually trying it out for yourself. No matter how patiently I wrapped the fabric around myself, it kept settling awkwardly around my feet - forget dancing around trees like in the movies, I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to climb stairs in it. We got there in the end though - thanks to the combined efforts of Youtube (instructional videos) and my mother on Skype. There’s probably something ironic about the whole thing, but hey - you make do with what you’ve got.

The finished look was a bit of surreal experience. The sheer novelty of it, I think. For the first time in my life, I felt overwhelmingly Indian, in a real Indian sari, complete with jingling bangles and a matching bindi, finally experiencing the rite of passage all Indian girls of age go through!

Apparently though, other cultural nuances needed brushing up: I had forgotten about that old goldie - Indian standard time - and consequently arrived too early. Watching the last minute prep gave me plenty of time for musing. It was the typical tragedy of the Diplomat child, misplaced, torn between the two extremes of pride at being part of this beautiful culture, and regret at not having experienced it before. We Diplomat kids are incredibly lucky in a way, privileged even at being exposed to so many cultures - but the trade-off is not knowing your own - not necessarily out of ignorance or reluctance, but just because you seem to miss out on a lot of it.

Once the wedding kicked into full swing, I was the epitome of the curious child, marveling at the ceremony and the elaborate rituals. If this were a Bollywood movie, there would almost certainly be some sort of scandal or altercation involving multiple love interests/the sister/mother-in-laws/wardrobe malfunctions (the list goes on). However this particular wedding went off without a hitch. I guess the sheer fact the groom was white was drama enough. It turned out to be a good thing for me, since with the half-white guestlist, the priest constantly stopped to explain the significance of the rituals as they occurred.

Indians thrive on weddings. For some it’s about the music or dancing, for others it’s the allure of free food. For me, it’d be a chance to wear one of these glorious saris again, and feel every part the Indian. And that’s something even tripping over the stairs in my post-wedding buzz can’t change.

Photo credit
: Louis Vest 


  • Shalu Sharma
    Shalu Sharma
    11.06.12 04:18 AM
    Well the sari is defiantly an experience for the inexperienced.
  • Vedic Cult
    Vedic Cult
    08.06.12 10:58 AM
    That must have been good for you, it is a beautiful dress, try putting that on more often and let's pledge we don't make it a dress only for occasions. India women should try wearing them in their daily lives as well. And we NRIs should support it by bringing it into our lives and try to get that out of indian youth that this dress is not modern or a thing of a past or meant for the lower class. They need to identify the beauty and importance of a beautiful dress like a Sari. Ask any girl when she wears a Sari, she feels like a woman, because the dress makes them confident and not only they look beautiful in it but also they feel the power of feminism.
    07.06.12 08:34 PM
    @ Mallika

    Seven yards of fabric and all the drama that goes with it. And the bloody expensive one as well. The question is, how much did you spend on it?


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