I am finding a simple white garment is a rarity in India. White maybe, but plain white is a no-no. It must be white on white! White hand embroidery, machine embroidery, applique, reverse applique, smocking, Broidery Anglaise, cream print on white, but heaven forbid just plain white!
I have started to keep my eyes peeled for just one simple white shalwar kameeze or churidar then, lo and behold, a whole village of people wearing while shawls, sarongs and Dhoti as we drive from Ooty in the hill stations to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. When I query this with the driver he looks at me like I am stupid….”it’s Sunday, the villagers are going to the temple”…by the lorry load it seems!
So white, it appears, is kept for special religious occasions and particularly funerals I discover. In the UK we add embellishment on our white wedding, christenings and confirmation gowns, whereas Hindu’s strip it back to simple pure white for their Sunday visits to the temple, and I learn, from the obligatory bit of Googling that … “White represents purity, cleanliness, peace and knowledge. The goddess of knowledge, Saraswati is always shown as wearing a white dress, sitting on a white lotus. The Brahmin – the highest social caste – is associated with white. Hindu religious leaders cover themselves with white ashes to represent their spiritual rebirth” (https://wou.edu/wp/exhibits/files/2015/07/hinduism.pdf)
As I wandered down the beach on my birthday wearing my Cut Couture white linen with a long embroidered white over dress a delightful young man commented, “Miss, you look like an angel!” Now maybe that was meant as a compliment, I’m not sure…but I felt a little uneasy as I smiled back as it did mean than on that beach I stood out like a sore thumb! Angels may be beautiful creatures but, to my understanding, they are spirits of those passed away? I am not yet ready to leave this Earth and be considered a spirit! I think I will mix it up a little in future and add some colour….as they say…when in Rome…