How to wear a sari

The part of my life that I'm often worried about, but that I think I'll be the most proud of, is creating an identity for myself and my family from the two cultures that make up my new world.  Perhaps the most striking shift in my life over the past two years is this one:

Photo by Angel Wings Photography

Photo by Angel Wings Photography

The morning I got married, a few wonderful women came to dress me for the Vedic ceremony.  They pulled, tucked, and pinned the six-or-so yards of red silk fabric embroidered with gold thread so that I would feel comfortable.  They taught me to sit, stand, and walk so that the bottom of the garment always gracefully swept the floor.  But somewhere between the advice of "don't show  your feet" and "try to look demure when you walk in--look down a little bit," I started to feel like I was losing myself to the tradition.  So I escaped with my bridesmaids and the photographer, who took one of my favorite pictures of the day: 

Seventeen months later, Amar and I traveled to Philadelphia for a Thanksgiving and birthday event with his family, and I donned a sari for the first time since our wedding.  This time I was nervous and bashful, and I found myself wanting to turn my eyes to the floor, dreading the attention I would inevitably receive for dressing up.  But this time, instead of walking in alone, I stood in a line of many wonderful women who were proud to have me join them, feeling like a real part of the family.  

I see this moment as one of many steps along my journey of discovering what the culture of my family will become; of who I will become.  One of the great challenges of my life will be learning to be graceful and to be grateful, learning when to be humble and when to show a bit of ankle, learning how to make my grandmother's spaghetti sauce with meatballs, and learning how to wear a sari.