The turbans and saris in India totally captivated me.
We traveled in the Northern part of India for two weeks in November and while I loved the palaces, forts and exotic nature of this part of the world, the way the women and men dressed was absolutely mesmerizing.
My back ground as a fashion writer probably has something to do with why the colorful attire grabbed my eye…but maybe you’ll find them equally interesting.
Interestingly there is no wife at home, advising, “Dear, I think you should wear your navy turban today,” the way we western women might advise our husbands about which tie to don before going out.
Instead the turban–typically a strip of cloth five meters or less– is prescribed. It is a man’s “identity.”
In many instances, it has a religious significance but the color of a turban can indicate a man’s profession or his caste. For example, shepherds are pink, farmers are another color. I often wondered when I saw a brightly patterned turban—what does that mean?
According to Wikipedia, the color can be selected for the occasion as well. White is associated with peace and worn by elders. Pink, often assoicated with spring, is worn during that season or for marriage ceremonies. I noticed snake charmers in different places all had the same kind of turban. Hmmmm.
The turban is also an important tool in every day life. It can provide an extra layer of warmth around the shoulders, act as a pillow and hide small valuables in its folds. I saw a man take off his turban and use it to pull a man in a wheel chair up a ramp at a train station.
It was amusing to me to see the impact of every day modern life in India. At stop lights I observed men on motorcycles, wearing their helmets with the turban wrapped under one arm and over the other shoulder, kinda like a beauty pageant woman wears a sash to indicate her allegiances. My assumption is that when the man arrives at his destination, he takes off the helmet and spends a few minutes rewrapping his turban to resume his daily life.
The saris that the women wear are equally interesting–making them radiant from head to toe. We saw women in the fields, walking on country roads, in the towns–all dressed in their beautiful, colorful draped scarves.
A sari is a strip of unstitched cloth four to nine yards in length that is draped over the body in various styles. It is typically worn over a long skirt of the same color and a tight fitting blouse called a choli.
They indicate where a woman is from both in color, pattern and the way they are tied. I love this. Combined with boatloads of jewelry and the Bindi–a traditional mark between the eyes, the effect is stunning.
I even liked seeing them draped on bushes or out windows to dry on laundry day. The splashes of color are fabulous.