Every Woman Needs a Saree

Every woman deserves to be wrapped in nine yards of fabulous. The saree is iconic, symbolic, powerful, ageless, timeless and inexhaustibly versatile. There are hundreds of ways to wear a saree, you can show as much or as little flesh as you like and your saree will never make you feel guilty for piling on a couple of pounds. A symbol of feminine beauty and grace, I don’t think many people could disagree with the fact that the saree is the most enchanting and elegant garment of all time. Thank you, India!

Sarees have been mentioned in the ancient and sacred Vedic scriptures, and to this day remain on trend! A saree is woven with its own unique history, tradition and culture of India. The delicate silk and cotton mix of Chanderi sarees inspired by Mughal palaces and ancient royalty from Madhya Pradesh. The wide borders of Kanjivaram silk from Tamil Nadu. The rich floral details of a Banarasi from Varanasi. The natural colours of a Sambalpuri woven in Orissa. The tie-dyed designs of a Bandhani made across Northern India. The Baluchari sarees from Bengal, which literally have a story to tell as they are embroidered with scenes from famous tales…

It felt almost like a privilege but when I was draped in my bridal saree for the first time, I was wearing two thousand years of history (a Paithani from Maharashtra)! My mum was really nervous at the prospect of wearing a saree when she came to India. She thought she would look awful, she didn’t think she would be able to pull it off. Mum was dreading it. The magic of the saree didn’t fail though, when the shopkeeper draped that pure silk around her, she burst into tears because she had never worn something so beautiful. She felt gorgeous and found that wearing a saree boosted her confidence!

Mum wearing her silk! bridal saree

Mum wearing her silk!

mother and daughter wedding saree

Wearing a saree can be confusing and overwhelming at first, all of those pleats and pins. Someone else will probably have to help you drape the it and you might find yourself feeling odd at first but it won’t take long to find your saree groove!

A beautiful saree has the power to invoke so many emotions and feelings, I feel almost majestic when I am draped in silk. A saree changes the way I walk, the way I hold myself and even the way I see myself. I feel at my most beautiful when I wear a saree. The saree doesn’t have an expiry date, an age limit, or a body shape preference, and what it does have is the power to make you feel gorgeous and confident.

silk paithani marathi saree

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The Girl with Almond Eyes

Last week my mother-in-law and I went for an impromptu “picnic”. This wasn’t a British picnic, we didn’t bring sandwiches, find a patch of grass, sit down on a blanket and drink lemonade. This was a Nagpurian picnic, which I have come to realise is a little trip out of the city. I am always ready for a chance to get out of the city so we travelled about 40 km to a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesh (Ganpati Bappa), Adasa.

Asada was absolutely beautiful with its peaceful incense infused atmosphere. As the sun started to dip below the horizon, standing outside the mountainside temple we could see for miles, a huge blanket of rural Maharashtra under an orange and pink sky.

gorgeous sky india

A sunset in Nagpur, a photo I took last year

To our surprise, our impromptu picnic to a Lord Ganesh temple coincided with a festival celebrating the God himself, so the temple was full of worshippers. Don’t you just love coincidences like that? Most of the women were dressed in a style associated with North India, their pallu (loose end of the saree) pulled over their heads and heavy jewellery balancing on their brow. I absolutely love this style and it’s so different from the way Maharashtrian women dress so we guessed this festival must originate from the North.

A girl caught my eye, she looked about the same age as my youngest sister, Sophie. She had large, dark almond shaped eyes and round cheeks, I smiled at how adorable she was, my smile faded I realised something was different. She was wearing a navy blue embellished saree, the pleats were neat and the pallu perfectly placed over her head, but she was shuffling uncomfortably towards the temple. It was so strange to see a young girl, who looked to me between twelve and fourteen years old, wearing a saree.

The idol inside this temple was the biggest I’ve ever seen, the priest had to climb the twelve foot tall statue of the elephant headed God to place the garlands across his neck. This idol of Lord Ganesh had been created from a huge piece of carved rock painted bright orange, it was a spectacular sight.

As we left the temple and made our way back to the car, the girl with the almond eyes caught my eye again. I noticed she was trailing behind an elderly couple and a tall man with deep acne scars, her almond eyes to the ground, trying not to trip over the neat pleats she had been dressed in. Then I noticed the small mangalsutra around her neck and the faded mehendi on her hands. My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach and my mother-in-law looked at me, also noticing the mangalsutra, as shocked as I was.

That night I could not get that innocent face out of my mind, I still can’t. Yes, she may have looked much younger than she is but I cannot forget the way she was struggling to walk in her saree and those child like almond eyes, bringing tears to my own eyes. 

Pugs Love Sarees

Several failed attempts, a few safety-pin injuries and a couple of swear words later, I can now successfully drape my own saree (this weekend we attended an engagement)! Along the way, I had a little helper… Alfonso. Scared that he would damage my saree, I stood on the bed. Desperate as he is to do it, he still isn’t tall enough to get himself up there yet.

Alfonso has a naughty habit of trying to hitch a ride on our maids sarees and was absolutely delighted to see that I was now wearing one too. Now what to do? I stood stranded on the bed with my lovable little piranha looking up at me with his doe eyes.

So, I had to carry him around whilst wearing it (he was not amused!). I will have to wait until he has grown out of his hanging from saree pallu habit before being able to wear a saree around the house. 
pink and orange saree, holding my cute pug. Also wearing sindoor, mogra and a smile

Hasn’t Alfonso grown so much in the last six weeks? He is growing everyday, in size and in mischief! Alfonso is such a good boy, he knows his name, knows where to go to toilet and he can now get down from the bed by himself (still cannot get up yet, thankfully). He is always so cuddly to anyone he is feeling upset, an absolute sweetheart.

Unfortunately, he still enjoys hanging from sarees. Alfonso is going to have to gift our maids (his best friends!) new ones if he carries on like this! 

Our pug family photo! Our intercultural, interracial, international, interspecies family!

Family photo