Friday, August 29, 2008

Wrapping a Sari

We have been lucky to be invited to several events lately, mostly because we are at small post with less than a dozen officers. At larger posts the handed-down invitation comes much less often to junior officers.

This weekend, the Kolkata International Women's Club is hosting its yearly Monsoon Ball. It is raining very heavily right now, so the weather will be perfect. Since my dresses are in our undelivered HHE (household effects), I decided to try to wear a sari to the event.

Naively, I went to a shop on Tuesday, fours days ahead of the event, thinking that I had plenty of time and easily found two candidates. The fabrics in Kolkata are amazing, many silk and linen blends with intricate embroidery are typical.

Upon arriving home and asking our nanny her opinion, I was educated on sari preparation. I had to also find fabric for the choli lining (mid-drift top) and petticoat (skirt worn underneath); then find a tailor to make the choli, petticoat and fall of the sari. No ready-to-wear sarees!

Luckily, there was a tailor down the street that was able to take measurements and rush the job for a fee. If all goes well, the sari will be ready for the event.

The wrap is quite complicated with folds like a fan in the front. I'm giving myself an extra hour to get ready. All that I need now is to remember to hold in my stomach and walk without tripping over the fabric.

A great book on the cultural significance of the sari in India is The Sari by Mukulika Banerjee. It describes not only the meaning of different styles across India, but also the significance of the sari to women and their relationship to other people.

Update: Here I am right before the event.

Images from Utsav Sarees


Anonymous said...

So...*ahem*...are all Indians quite as "busty" as the one in the diagram?

Natalie Buda Smith said...

hmmm...I really haven't been paying that close attention but the sari is really revealing for the modesty women maintain in India.

You see women's bellies--often in all sizes and shapes. Sometime you wish you didn't see so many bellies.

Katie said...

Hi! This is Katie from Alan's A-100, currently in Dhaka. Did you dress yourself??? It looks great!

Hope all is well in Kolkata!

Natalie Buda Smith said...

I take credit for about half of the dressing. I watched several how-to videos on YouTube and then Bina helped me turn it from a sack to a dress. They are kind of addicting. Hope to see you in Dhaka or Kolkata sometime.