While the sari used to be considered a symbol of tradition in India and many other parts of South East Asia, the humble garment seems to have lost the race to other garments considered comfortable. Many women have given up on sari as the daily garment and have opted for shalwar kameez and dupattas. The sari which used to be worn daily by many women in India is now seen worn mostly at weddings and festivals. Western garments have become excessively popular with women in urban scenarios.
Why has the sari lost its charm as a daily garment with Indian women?The answer to this question will have varied perspectives. If you consider logical reasoning, one would agree the sari is not a comfortable garment to wear. Typically a sari measures around 4.57 meters to 8.23 meters in length and around 60cm to 120m in breadth (2-4 feet). Considering these dimensions, a sari is quite a heavy garment no matter how it is draped. India is a country known for its extremely harsh summers. The sun is relentless and humidity levels are annoyingly high. In such a scenario it is just not practical for women to wear a sari daily. The sari is worn over a ghagra-lengha (Petticoat) and blouse. Wearing the weight of a sari, women perspire a lot more than they normally do. Working women in India prefer shalwar kameez over sari because it is light garment and does not stick to the body like a sari does.
At every workplace that has adress code for employees, you find majority of the women turn up at work in shalwar kameez and dupattas. Even in rural areas, many women prefer to wear shalwar kameez over sari. The shift from sari to shalwar kameez and dupatta is not just subject to working women. Even, stay at home moms and housewives have taken to shalwar kameez and dupatta as the daily garment. The sari just doesn’t seem to be a practical garment for Indian women anymore. Furthermore, western influences have had a huge impact on women in India. In the decades gone by, the modern Indian woman, has adopted western wear and made it her own.
Designer saris are popular with ultra-urban modern women, but are largely seen worn by women on special occasions. Western wear has become a rage with college going girls in big cities, and the shift from traditional Indian to western is happening at an astonishing rate even at smaller cities and villages. It makes perfect sense that a woman wears what she feels comfortable in. The sari will continue to earn the traditional garment tag in India, however, majority of women have given up on wearing a sari daily. The sari has always been and will always be an integral part of Indian heritage. The iconic sari is still a favorite among women, however in present times is reserved only for special occasions. Will the sari retain its lost ground in India? Time will tell.