Sunday, August 19, 2012

celebratin' in style

Last Wednesday 15 August was Indian Independence Day (65 years!!), a national holiday and big celebration for the whole school. We found out that it was also Korea's Independence Day, so the program gave a shout out to our Korean population too!

Everyone in the school wears national dress on Independence Day, which means the gym was filled with multicolored costumes from all over the world. One of my American students even wore traditional "American" garb, a cowboy-ish shirt and slacks.

Jackie asked about clothing, so here's a bit of info. Remember, though, that I'm still a novice at this stuff. Many, many, many female students and staff wore saris (which I've also seen spelled sarees). These are those beautiful outfits made of a midriff-showing shirt called a choli and a large piece of fabric that's draped into a dress...ish. It's hard to describe, so I'll repost a picture of some students, looking adorable:

Shivi and Raya

Shivi, Minhee, Parishma, Amy, and Natasha -- our colorful Grade 10 advisees!

Saris are just gorgeous, and even our tiny local bazaar offers every kind of fabric and color you could dream up. I wasn't brave enough to start with a sari -- I'm not into showing off my midriff! -- but the more I see them the more I want to try one. Our next big event for dressing up is when the Dalai Lama (YES, I did write that!) comes to visit in September. However, I might try to find a Tibetan outfit for that day. Anyway, I will eventually take the plunge and buy a sari...

Me and a few other staff members decided to go the more conservative route and wear a salwar kameez. This is perhaps the most comfortable outfit I've ever left the house in, though people who've bumped into me on late-night grocery shopping trips might disagree. However, this is certainly the nicest-looking comfy outfit I've worn:

Julia, me, Chris, and Ritika

As you can see, Julia and I went to the same tailor for our outfits -- Inam's! Basically, a salwar kameez is made up of a long shirt and loose pants. And I mean loose. I probably had about 20 extra inches of room in those pants, which really helped when we gorged ourselves at the Independence Day feast... :) 

Chris is wearing one traditional Indian piece -- the vest. I love these things. There's something so sharp about the collar, and I want Chris to get a bunch more this year. Other traditional men outfits include long shirts (kurtas), but I didn't get any good pictures of those -- sorry!

If you check out my facebook page, you can see more pictures of Independence Day fashion. I should probably say something about the actual celebration itself. The day started with a full-school assembly. We got to listen to traditional Indian music, sing the national anthem in Hindi (difficult!), and hear a great speech by one of Woodstock's alums and board members. She graduated in the class of 1950 and went on to be a successful lawyer in Delhi. It was a privilege to hear her reflect on what Independence means. By the by, if you don't know much about Indian history, I'd highly recommend the book Freedom at Midnight, which discusses Independence and Partition. It's a fabulous read about an intense history. 

After all the speeches, we took pictures for forever and then bumbled along to a real feast. Woodstock brought in food vendors from town who served us crazy amounts of food. We had the rest of the day off, so we talked and played games with friends. It was a wonderful holiday.

Well, I meant to discuss Advisor Night in this post, but I think I've reached my word limit for the day. I'll get to that in the next one. Have a wonderful week!! love, mel


  1. Ask Mrs Chophel about going to Dehradun to get a Tibetan outfit made. Better yet - I want a new blouse; I can ask her about scheduling a trip down maybe one weekend depending on her shift. It can take a little bit of time to get them made, but they're superbly comfy and great for chilly weather. Would you be interested in a trip down if I spoke with Mrs Chophel (or Saldon or one of the other ladies)?

    1. This would be awesome, Darcey! My only problem is this weekend's hike to Rajpur. However, the next weekend (September 1ish?) is free. I'd be happy to head down with you! Would that be enough time?

    2. Keep an eye out while you're in the Rajpur neck of the woods - you might find some things there! I'm not sure which tailors up here know how to make them (and if Inam does, I certainly *won't* recommend him for anything time-sensitive), but I'll ask Mrs C & Saldon.

  2. Love seeing the traditional Indian clothing.

  3. Wow! Vibrant colors does not even begin to describe the clothing. It makes us glad to see you guys enjoying the experience. Much Love, Dad and Mom 2

  4. The Indian Independence Day celebration at Woodstock School is fascinating. The traditional outfits are absolutely beautiful and you both look amazing. What did the food vendors feast consist of and what was your favorite dish?

    I really enjoyed your additional "festive" pictures on Facebook, especially seeing you surrounded by your students! I'm going to take you up on your recommendation to read the book, "Freedom at Midnight". As you know, I love learning about other cultures. Thanks :o) Love ~ Mommy

  5. Thanks for giving us more details on the holiday and clothes, Melanie! That was fun reading! :)