Sari Tradition

Without blouse - A kick back against colonialism

Whatever country men live in, the majority have a somewhat unhealthy appreciation of the female body because we live in a capitalist and patriarchal society where things are to be possessed. Women for the most part have been chattels in many countries, slaves and baby makers for the men who owned them.

India as a matriarchal civilisation was spared this tradition until midway through the British occupation when they decided that because women in England had no rights, Hindu women should also have no rights. With stroke of a pen they passed a law disinheriting women of their wealth and social status and telling men that they had all the power.

This move affected city women more so than country women. Before the British arrived, public nudity was rarely an issue but with the sudden move to patriarchy the egos of men became inflamed and women began to suffer. Before the British a significant percentage of women across India went topless because it was a land of free expression.

To the enlightened a naked human body was no different to the mountain or the tree, to be seen and appreciated but only an idiot would want to possess the mountain or cover it up. Only an idiot would want to possess the tree and of course there were many idiots who cut down all the trees fostering more rapid ecological disaster.

This move under the British to patriarchal capitalism introduced new levels and shades of violence into Hindu and even Islamic culture. Men became a new problem passing judgement, disrespecting, shaming and excluding women from social life. They began to take more care covering their bodies and those with the freedom conformed more strictly to the concepts of fashion with a Hindu flavour but overlaid by European morality.

In 2017 there was a blouse free sari campaign that went viral within social media, a token attempt perhaps to emulate Western women's attempts to ban the bra back in the 1960s and 70s. The blouse free campaign was somewhat successful and many women frustrated at having to wear such restrictive dress in the heat of India participated.

Unfortunately the layers of moral judgement, shaming, disrespect and exclusion were far too strong that this was a one-day event and women can only enjoy such comforts and freedoms within the privacy of their own homes.

"Traditionally the sari was worn without blouse or petticoats in the spirit of retaining the purity of the unstitched cloth and the spirit of being human." ~ Saree Man

For most women, underwear serves no practical purpose other than giving them a sense of protection from the wandering eyes and hands of men plus of course the judgements of other women. The sari skirt can be short or long, but wrapped around twice most fine fabrics cover the body adequately and the Palau, the part that covers the front torso and trails down the back generally covers the breasts although there are bound to be some accidental exposures.

For women wanting to experiment, not wearing panties is often much easier and less noticeable than not wearing a bra or a blouse. However to more fully embrace one's culture and enjoy greater physical freedom a woman has to stand in her power and claim her human rights.

Is becoming more common to see women in the West stepping out sometimes in see-through garments without underwear, dressed in body paint and occasionally completely naked perhaps in response to a dare or for financial reward. Such bold statements are not recommended for any Indian city because arrest and harassment is almost a certainty although such statements at select parties and nightclubs would be greatly admired as they are in other parts of the world.

Most people appreciate the view of the mountain and forest, they appreciate looking at the flowers in the garden and most people appreciate looking at other people although today they try to deduce the character from the appearance. The fashion statement or the clothing label defines a social niche, a sense of identification and detachment to certain ideas and values.

Ultimately beauty is not in body shape, it is in knowing oneself as a part of life and carrying one's body in a lively way which takes great courage. Walking naked in public is easier for the stereotypically beautiful women because they see themselves as conforming to other people's desires and they are capitalising on that. The real challenge for women is to be in different to moral judgements, indifferent to the leering eyes of men and sufficiently empowered to deal with those who physically attempt to invade.

If there is a return to matriarchy, if men learn to look without lust, if everyone learns to be less judgemental and the law is not a servant of colonialist morality, then men and women will be more free to dress or undress and otherwise decorate their bodies according to their own ethic and sense of fashion. They would be free to engage or not engage with passers-by and the world would be a more joyful place.

"If you truly love the flower, admire it, don't pick it." ~ Osho

Shirk off the vestiges of colonialism and reclaim the no blouse sari look. Feel liberated


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