Sari: Fashion or Culture?

I decided to wear a Sari today.

Just for fun, and mainly to get used to wearing it again. After spending about 20 minutes to iron it, and another 20 to get it to 'wear' correctly, I braved out. Mind you, I live in a northern suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, with a large Indian population in a neighboring suburb and a decent sized Indian population within my own city. I consider it to be an ethnically diverse and open minded community. Three fun things that happened to me, just because I wore a sari:

1. I was pleasantly surprised when the hostess and owner of a local French cafe (a native French-woman) pronounced the word sari effortlessly, while complimenting me and proceeded about her business without gushing over me - which is a nice response.

2. Post lunch, while I was trying to stand up, I stood instead on my sari and it took me a few minutes to un-step out. Thankfully nothing unwrapped (!!) And, no one blinked an eye or paid attention. Phew!!

3. In contrast, I was asked by at my local grocery store by an older Indian lady, why I was wearing a sari, if it was a special day for me, or if I was going to the temple.

Through out my day, no one stopped me, stared or glared, but sometimes the service was seemingly slow.

Is there is a culture-shift in the mindset - where culturally significant attire is considered out of place within ones' own communities when worn outside of socially prescribed context. Are other communities just less likely to notice anything different?? (I hardly think it comes out of politeness).

Should sari's and other such attire be restricted to culturally designated special occasions?

Here are some vintage photos of 4 generations including myself, of me, mother, maternal grandmother and maternal great grandmothers wearing a sari in different ways.

1. A traditional Maharashtrian Brahmin style of wearing a 9 yards sari, me, c. 1987

2. A traditional North Indian style of wearing a 6 yards sari, my mother, c. 1976

3. A traditional Gujarati style of wearing a 6 yards sari, my maternal grandmother, c. 1978

4. A traditional Maratha style of wearing a 9 yards sari, my maternal great grandmother, c. 1920?

I think there about 30 more styles of wearing a sari.. all within India. Would you wear one?



Nandita Godbole

Once a botanist & landscape architect.

Now a personal chef & author, an artist, graphic designer, blogger & poet. 


Loves freshly brewed chai, the crisp salty ocean breeze, watching monsoon rains & walking barefoot through cold mountain streams. 


Believes in the strength, positivity of the human spirit. Is spiritual but not a fanatic. 


Mom of one. Two, if she counts her husband.

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