Wearing a Saree

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to wear a saree.  Satya told my Mother in law that I’d be open to wearing a traditional Indian outfit for the Indian wedding ceremony next year.  She brought out a beautiful purple silk saree with gold and orange trim. 

The first step was the blouse. 

Lesson number one: the tiny hooks hook in the front, not in the back!  When she gave me the blouse I was very confused because I thought, “How in the world do you hook all those tiny hooks in the back by yourself?”  My mother in law quickly corrected me and told me they hook in the front…much easier.  I guess I saw the hooks and thought they looked like bra hooks and so thought they hook in the same way.

Luckily, the blouse fit well across my shoulders.  The arms were a little loose, but she said that they could easily be tailored to fit.

Next was the cotton petticoat.  Then finally, the winding and folding of the saree.  I don’t know how she did it.  I will definitely have to find some of those “How to wear a saree” videos online!  I’m thinking of finding a cheaper one that I can just practice wearing around the house.

Then came the next challenge…walking upstairs.  I thought, “Oh, no problem.  I’ve worn long skirts and dresses before.”  Wrong.  Apparently, it is crucial to grip the saree at the center of the skirt to hold it up and out of the way.  Holding it from the sides makes things even more difficult. 

Satya and his mom liked the saree very much.  I will be wearing one for the Indian wedding.  I will definitely need to practice wearing one beforehand!  They both laughed when they saw how tightly I was gripping the saree.  I was afraid it would fall off, but I just have to adjust to the different feel of wearing a saree. 

Satya took pictures, so someday I may post them.  I think I looked like a tall purple pillar, but in a good way.

More things I learned:

          -There are many different ways to wear a saree.  Some stylish, some more utilitarian.  If you need to wash dishes you can tuck it one way.  If you need your legs freer, you can do something else.

          -Pins can be added to hold the saree in place.  I didn’t try this, but it sounds worth trying.

         -Pastel colors are nicknamed “English colors” and should be avoided.  Mother in law says that anything bright is good. 

I’d always wanted to try a saree on, so I enjoyed wearing it a lot.   Also, it was gorgeous!  I didn’t really realize before how versatile sarees are.  They can adjust no matter the wearer’s size or what the wearer is doing.

Here is a great post from A Wide Angle View of India about saris.  She has included a link to a video showing how to wear a sari as well as some great photos. 

At the moment I am looking for a silk saree to wear for the August ceremony.  We are having the ceremony professionally photographed so Satya wants a photos of me in a saree as well as the Western-style wedding dress.

Kannada Movies

Does anyone know why it is so difficult to find Kannada movies in the U.S.?  I’m able to find Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Malayam movies, but Kannada ones are proving difficult.  I’d like to see them just to get some idea of the culture and to try to pick up a few more words. 

Anybody have any tips?  Short of asking his family to send us a bunch, I’m stuck.

Also, do the movies usually have English subtitles?

I have heard that some of the movie industries of the lesser known languages are being swallowed up by Bollywood and are having trouble competing.  Any truth to that? 

What are some of your favorite movies?  I want to try to stay away from movies with lots of blood and violence.

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

I will be posting notes on our wedding planning.  Altogether, we will probably have done 5 different ceremonies/blessings by next spring. 

In March we had a tiny wedding in my old apartment.  We had only 7 people present, including ourselves. We eloped.

In August we will be going to Minnesota so that his family can meet my family.  We will have one ceremony in a garden, and the other at my 90 year old grandmother’s nursing home.  She is very frail, but still loves a good time. 

At this time, we are unsure what kind of ceremony we will have in the garden.  We will need to create our own ceremony, but have been putting it off.  I was raised Catholic, but as we are already married and as we have no intention of raising our future, hypothetical children as Catholics we will not have a Catholic marriage mass.

Sometime next spring we will be going to India to have a Lingayat ceremony.  One celebration will be at his parent’s home and the other will probably be at a marriage hall.  The second will be a “small” wedding by his family’s standards-about 500 people.  It will be Satya’s first time in India since he left in late 2000 and my first time in India, period. 

We figure at the end we will be truly blessed!

Bisi Bele Bhath

Bisi Bele Bhath is a dish that Satya and I have enjoyed at South Indian restaurants.  It is very hearty and vegetarian. 

Below, is a recipe with my own notes in parentheses that Satya found online at



Our biggest challenge is to get the consistency right.  When we’ve had it at restaurants, it has been much thinner.  When we make it at home, it is very thick and you can eat it with a fork.  To make it thinner, add water. 

***Spoons=tea spoons


Rice 1 cup
Toor Dal 1/2 cup
Boiled Potatoes -2 (optional)
1/4 cup cooked Peas (optional)
Ghee 3 spoons
Grated Coconut 2 spoons
Tamarind Powder 1 1/2 spoons
Small Onions – 10 (rather vague.  I use one large red onion)

Brinjul (Small eggplants.  Use 2)

Masala to grind

Dry Red Chillies 8
Dhania 1 1/2 spoons (Coriander seeds)
Fenugreek 1/4 spoon
Urad Dal 1/2 spoon
Bengal Gram 1 spoon (Dry Chickpea)
KusKus – 1 spoon (Cous Cous)
Patta (Curry leaves.  We use about 6)

Method :


  1. Fry the above masalas in a dry pan and powder them. (We use a little mortar and pestle for this, although Satya’s mom says a coffee grinder works even better and faster.)
  2. Mix Rice and Dal and cook in cooker.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, fry onions till brown, add cut boiled potatoes and peas, can also add brinjal.
  4. Add tamarind powder and 1/2 cup water and salt and the ground masala powder. Let it boil.
  5. Now add cooked rice and dal and mix well. Remove from flame.
  6. Fry the coconutes till brown and powder them.
  7. Garnish with chopped coriander, fried cashews and powdered cocounts.

Serve hot with Onion Raita and Pappads.

Serves : 3


This can be spicy, so make sure you have your lassi or raita nearby!  It is delicious, but it does take a lot of time to chop everything.  Cook it when you have at least an hour or so. 



Food is central to culture and relationships.  This blog will occassionally discuss food and recipes.  In my opinion, it is a lot more fun to cook food for others than to just cook for myself.  Cooking with someone else is even better!!  I cooked some for my family in Minnesota, but living on my own I subsisted on mostly on Cliff bars, veggie burgers, and cheese sandwiches. 

Since I’ve met Satya I’ve enjoyed exploring South Indian cuisine.  Before I met him, my experience of Indian food was limited to palak paneer, chicken tikka masala, and mango lassi.  South Indian cooking is a lot different, at least how we eat it.  Satya grew up in a Lingayat household so his family were (and are) strict vegetarians.   This means along with no meat, no eggs as well.  In fact, his mother is extremely allergic to eggs and eggs cause him to break out with acne.

 When Satya and I eat together, we eat vegetarian which is quite a change for someone who grew up eating meals of meat, potatoes, and mushy vegetables.  Our compromise is that we can eat whatever we want when we are apart.

So far I’ve found South Indian cooking to be delicious and fairly easy to prepare.  As long as I have a recipe, I’m ok.  Satya does not believe much in recipes and loves to experiment which can drive me nuts when we cook together (what comes next? is my constant question).  South Indian food can be spicy at times, but we try to make sure we always include something with yogurt (or curds, as he calls them).  Raita and pachadi are delicious and mango lassi also cools the spice.  I’m getting much better at chopping vegetables!

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