Make no mistake. For a traditional Indian event, you go the whole nine yards. Just like we do. Except, Hijras (transgender women) make this particular sartorial choice every day. So many ‘Kari’s wear ‘Sari’s because it makes us feel empowered. To make the choices we do. For ourselves. To unmistakably be the women we are inside. To drape ourselves in the values of the oldest known culture on the planet. And beyond it all, to look sublime as heaven and sexy as hell.
Gauri’s the bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding. She isn’t quite sure what to dress in for the ceremony as yet. When I suggest she wears a Sari, she frowns, “But Kari! All the other girls are going to be in Lehengas or Anarkalis. It’s kind of what everyone has on these days.”
“And you’ll break the pattern Gauri! Why wouldn’t you want to stand out?!”
“I don’t know Kari. I’ll just feel out of place, perhaps.”
I burst out laughing.
“WHAT?”, she nudged me, questioningly.
“It’s just ironic when someone talks about being out of place. We’ve been there all our lives.”
“Oops. Hit the wrong spot, have I? I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to…to…”
“To put me back there?”
“Oh please don’t be! We’re different and it’s something we now pride ourselves on. And when you wear that Sari at the wedding ceremony, you should too.”
Before we knew it, we were browsing through Benarasis and Kanjeevarams and Patolas and Bandhanis and Leheriyas at a Sari workshop. Surrounded by rich splashes of colour, unique forms and weaves and textures, I could see Gauri hitting it off with the hues.
“I’ve always wondered, why the sari is so ubiquitous amongst you lot?”, she earnestly asked.
“Our clothes, Gauri, have always been one of the most visual and visceral expressions of our transition to womanhood and acceptance into society. A sari holds tradition, culture, femininity and everything we wish to portray ourselves as, in its sinuous folds and throws.
It’s bold and gentle, crisp and crumpled, colourful or not and most notably, complete. And that’s who we are. As whole as anyone else.”
“Hmm…how true. And for a garment to be so profoundly representative – it’s incredible!”, she admitted, thoughtfully.
“Besides, a Sari looks great on anyone, irrespective of their heritage and lineage. It’s meant for every body shape, size, and type. This is the only outfit I know that can be styled in so many diverse ways – I could potentially drape it in a hundred! It’s formal and casual; elegant and relaxed; modest and sensual; regal and every day. So versatile, it works for almost any occasion…”
Gauri was listening keenly when a lavender Bandhani with fine Gota border work fell into our laps. And it took our breaths away.
“This is the one!”, she exclaimed! I agreed, emphatically.
I gave her a cute, golden, halter neck, cropped, crochet blouse to go with it. “Ah! Something the Lehengas and Cholis will certainly have a tough time keeping up with”, she winked. “But Kari, what about the rest of me?” she sounded mock-alarmed.
“Oh, the drama! First things first, we’ll go with the Nivi drape. Hair: Low, loose bun with two braids on either side twisted into the roll – Disney princess-style. Earrings: Long pearl Jhumkas. May be a thick Kada (bangle) on one hand. Shoes: Juttis to match. A set of pearl
and silver Paayals (anklets) would be so sweet. Keep the make-up minimal. Natural, I’d say. Radiant skin, rosy cheeks, flushed lips, kohl-lined eyes and waterproof mascara! Because you know you’re going to get teary!”
“Gotch’ya!”, she snapped her fingers, ready to part with her trousseau.
“Oh oh oh! I almost forgot! The Bindi. You can’t miss the Bindi. A shiny little baby pink one, if you will.”
“Hahaha! Of course! Can’t go without Kari’s good ol’ Bindi.”
“No Kari would let you! Especially, when you’re in a Sari!”
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