Styles of Sari

My informant AM is an international student from Singapore, and her family is originally from Bengal, India. She goes back to Bengal every year, and spend most of the time in the capital city Kolkata.


Main piece:

AM: “For me, I only wear Sari in certain time, like in the festival ‘Durga Puja’. We have this Indian festival in Singapore and we celebrate it every year. I got my own Sari at the age of 17 or 18, and then, I learned how to wear it, since there’re certain ways and so many ways to wear it…

“There are women who wear it everyday, like my grandma and people at her age. They have home Sari, Sari for sleeping, and Sari for going out. And my mom’s generation is more modern. They have Sari, and also a more modern style of clothing.

Sari is consisted of one drape, you wrap it around the waist and shoulder. And normally, you wear a blouse and a petticoat underneath the Sari drape. While the more popular modern style is you wear a Kurta, the long top, and below is pants like Patiala, or just like straight – Kameez, or skinny pants like Churidar. Most of the time, when we’re at home, my mom would just wear normal clothes, top and panyts, but if we go out to visit someone, she will wear those. And if it’s a really special occasion, she’ll wear Sari.

As for me, I never wear Sari since I come to the State. [laugh]”


Context of the performance:

This is a section from a conversation with my informant AM about how Indian culture and traditions are practiced in Singapore.


My thoughts about the piece:

I find Indian as the culture that remains its traditional clothing the longest among many old civilizations. Two weeks ago when I went to Regal LA Live to watch movie, I saw many Indian-looking people wearing Sari (for women) or Achkan (for men) having some kind of open ceremony for a film. Wearing traditional clothing in this modern time is really new to me, especially because China has so many traditional clothing styles but people don’t wear them and don’t know how to wear them.

At the same time, modernization is again reflected in this piece, that according to AM, the younger the generation is, the less people wear Sari in less occasion. This also reflects on globalization, that people in different culture all over the world wear similar cloth, T-shirt and pants. It seems that all these traditions are dying out.