Sari Blues to Sari Joy

Have you ever put on an Indian sari?  It’s tricky.  If you don’t have the proper paraphernalia, it’s nigh unto impossible.  The sari itself is just a 6-foot or so length of beautiful fabric—often decorated along one edge.  You do need a blouse top, or it will get mighty drafty, and if you are in India, you may be thrown off the local bus.  You also need a petticoat with a drawstring waist.  (Don’t be tricked into thinking an elastic waisted slip will do, because it definitely will not.  The weight of the tucked-in sari will stretch out the elastic and pull both the slip and the sari right off you!)

I have one simple sari petticoat, but it’s blue, which means I can’t use it under my red sari or my yellow one.  Which means whenever I have occasion to wear a sari, I just wear my red one.  Always.

Sunday afternoon, I was at my friend Bethel’s house. She brought out several suitcases filled with heirlooms handed down through generations of her family.  One piece was an intricately sewn petticoat from the late 1800s, with beautiful details and delicate lace, hand-stitched with loving care.  

“Oh,” I blurted.  “Just the thing to go under my saris!”

“You can have it,” Bethel said as she handed me the petticoat.  “I will never use it.”   

Today I carefully hand-washed the lovely garment and hung it out to dry, and to sun bleach the stains. Tonight I stitched up the rips and mended worn seams.  Tomorrow I will try it on with my yellow silk sari.

Don’t you love it when joy comes in a totally unexpected package?

“True happiness brings more richness than all the money in the world.”

Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi


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7 responses to “Sari Blues to Sari Joy

  1. binakapoor

    A lovely read. If you ever come to Delhi, I can help you learn tying the saree in a classic manner and help you understand the patterns of ‘cloth-flow’ in this garment. Follow this link buddy –

    • Thank you! My approach is very primative, so I certainly could use some expert lessons. I will be in India in October, but I won’t be as far north as Delhi.

  2. Jeanette

    What a beautiful gift! I love it when God does things like that.
    Have a wonderful day,

  3. No matter what color of petticoat I wear, I just don’t look good in a sari.

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