Saris in the Breeze

“It is the lives we encounter that make life worth living.”  ~
Guy de Maupassant

Saris in the Breeze, Udaipur, India

Standing on the raised platform of the ancient Sas-Bah temple at Nagda in Rajasthan, we looked once more at the barren landscape in the distance. We noticed a procession of women in colorful saris walking single file toward an area dotted with palm trees. Why? What were they doing? Where could they possibly be going? No crops in the field to harvest. No buildings around. We asked our guide. He wasn’t sure. Our curiosity was too great to just let this cultural moment flutter away in the breeze like the image of their saris. We asked him if he would take us to them.

“No! I won’t escort you. It would be better for you to go yourself. Just walk down that dirt road and you will come to a path, and then you can catch up with them.”

After a check with our driver and the time constraints we were under, it was agreed we could go. “Just don’t take too long,” they reminded.

Our escort would be little children that appeared instantly, hands out, smiling and saying, “ten rupee.” One little boy handed me a yellow dandelion. Getting to the path required us to climb over a crude rock wall, overgrown with vines and brambles. Ron first, then holding my camera and hand, I climbed over while holding my skirt up. Giggles from the children.

Once on the path, we realize we are intruding on a couple of women who are cooking on an open fire. No house, few belongings. We smile, bow and say, “namaste.”

Rushing to catch up with the procession was my priority, while not stumbling over rocks and twisting an ankle. There was already blood dripping down my leg from scratches encountered climbing over the wall.

Those at the end of the procession now see us and stop. The others slow down, turn, and just watch these crazy people approach.

What a moment. A mixture of shyness, smiles, cautiousness, curiosity and perplexity among the group.

Saris in the Breeze, Udaipur, India

Some gather with Ron and others around me. We ask if anyone can speak English and a few laugh. I point to women with gray hair and point to my gray hair and call them Mama and Grandmother and jester to myself. They seem to know what I mean and banter with each other. The group relaxes.

We ask to take photos and many allow us. A few are still cautious. I respect that.

And then, on cue, the women once again get in their processional and leave us to ponder the same questions we had originally.

Saris in the Breeze, Udaipur, India

Was this a religious ritual? Was it an observance to pay respects to the recently departed?

As we watched them leave, they began singing. It was solemn and spiritual.

They carried no babies, no food, and no water. No small children accompanied them. They were taking time out from their domestic responsibilities. Obviously, these women were bonded and committed to something of meaning to them. Hindu traditions and social identities are complex, and I knew we had witnessed something special.

Women, dressed in their finest saris, fluttering in the breeze.


About travelerlynne

Traveler. Writer. Retired Educator.Traveling on and off the beaten path with my photographer husband. Volunteering locally as well as in Haiti and Tanzania, an enriching and humbling experience. A sun lover! Shelling, boating, fishing and watching sunsets. Growing mango, banana, key lime,and pineapple.Making smoothies and chutneys. Enjoying family and friends! Savoring each new day!
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28 Responses to Saris in the Breeze

  1. What a lovely encounter,Lynne. I find that even the poorest Indian lives vivid with colour! Poor they may be but they surround themselves with such beauty. I’ve seen film clips of them celebrating their god Holi, and they throw coloured powder at each other! Truly amazing!

    • India is colorful on many levels, but the saris are burned in my memory. We arrived in Mumbai on the last day of Holi and saw families and small groups of people walking around covered in powder. Quite a sight to see. I like your new gravitar. I am long overdue for a new one.

  2. I awakened here in Canoa (Ecuador) and checked the computer for the time; Yes, I had time to check email before preparing to check out and leave with the tour group. (Last day of tour). Your post was the first that I read, and oh, what a lovely way to start the day! My sari is quite lacking to the beautiful ones in the photos.

    I loved this detour to the other side of the world, where I tagged along with you and Ron as we followed the queue of mysterious ladies garbed in their beautiful ropa.

    thanks, amiga. I loved every world!

  3. Lovely photos! Women in rural India often walk long distances from their villages to get to their work place, usually a large scale factory. You probably encountered them on their way back to their homes.

  4. Lynn Sarda says:

    This is truly fascinating.

    Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks, Lynn. It was a beautiful encounter. We love to create our little adventures by getting off the beaten path. I’ve learned to hide my shyness and just jump in when it comes to cultural encounters.

  5. Their finest saris fluttering in the breeze. How enchantingly descriptive, Lynne. I wonder where they were going? You were treated to a mysterious encounter. It’s those serendipitous and spontaneous moments that make life worth living. I loved this post…so full of mystery. 🙂

  6. Thanks, Debbie for the complement. It was somewhat surreal and humorous at the same time. Ron and I chasing after a group of women in a foreign country. I wanted our guide to go with us in order to translate, but later he told us the experience we were after would be more fulfilling without him, that he would be an encumbrance. Perceptive young man.

  7. Your title was so intriguing, Lynne, and I’ve been looking forward to finding time to peruse your post. The photos are so gorgeous and I love the bright colours of the saris. The quote is perfect, and so true. I’m really glad you and Ron went off in pursuit of these women. It was worth a grazed leg, for sure. 🙂

  8. The encounters enrichen our lives immensely and walls and scratches can’t hold me back. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I know the day has not gone well for you.

  9. Tahira says:

    I am an “answers” driven person. I need to know “why this is happening?” “Why are they doing that?” “What is the logic for that?” “What is the rationale for doing this?” But as I get older, I am finding some days the unexplained, the silence, must carry the day. In this situation I simply love the mystery, the unexplained, the silence, and the profound beauty of these women. Great capture, Lynne.

    • Our guide later told us that he thought it could be a ritual of saying good by to a loved one. We just don’t really know for sure. He was from a different area and customs are slightly different from village to village. I thought I would just keep it a mystery. Aging has a way of letting us see things differently and with more wisdom. Lovely comment, Tahira.

  10. Zambian Lady says:

    What beautiful and colorful photos. The saris remind me of the colorful chitenge (traditional) materials that Zambian women wear either as wrappers or costumes. Like you say, they (or shall I say, we Zambians) maybe poor, but color abounds.

  11. Thankyou Zambian lady for your visit and comment. One of the joys of travel is to appreciate and marvel at the cultural clothing, distinct and unique to the region or country. While in Tanzania I purchased Kanga cloth to wear as skirts. I have now used the cloth for pillow covers and table cloths. I’m sure the Chitenge cloth used in Zambia is colorful and unique. 😌

  12. Lynne, you post the most wonderful photography, but this is, hands down, my most favorite post! These vividly colorful pictures touched me deeply. You captured a life-affirming essence that is a beautiful tribute to what Valentine’s Day should be.
    Thank you!

  13. Thank you Marylin for your kind words. Somehow the pictures of these women and the mystery surrounding our encounter have remained in my memory since our trip a year ago. I have just bought a pair of pillows for our couch made of recycled red saris, which seems to be fitting.

  14. Lynne, a lovely account you’ve created, which commences with such a nice quote. Do you think this event might remain even more special to you because the mystery surrounding it was never solved?

    The opening picture brings to mind an encounter I had in Rajasthan, India some years ago. As the taxi driver and I were heading to Pushkar, I asked him to stop so that I could interact with a group of ladies, similarly dressed in vibrant-colored saris. Like your guide, the taxi driver obliged, and he even acted as translator. The ladies I met were working in a field, demonstrating a great degree of strength as they carried soil in vessels balanced on their heads. They let me try balancing the empty dish on my head, and I’m embarrassed to say that I couldn’t do so. I can’t imagine what it feels like when it’s loaded down with a lot of weight!

  15. What an interesting encounter you had, Tricia. I’m sure I would have failed at this balancing act, too. We saw women in the fields harvesting wheat, but they hid behind the stalks every time we tried to take a picture. I truly love to capture daily life and realize that not all want to be in the picture. Tours provide the canned approach, not as authentic. Getting out like you did or Ron and I did adds a pureness and authenticity to our encounters. Thanks so much for your visit and sharing.

  16. restlessjo says:

    I loved Tahira’s comment, Lynne. I, too, often itch to know why, but it’s wonderful just to be able to enjoy each moment and accept. A beautiful encounter, delicately woven. 🙂

  17. We think we need all the answers, but a little mystery causes us to reflect a little deeper. Thanks for your thoughts, Jo.

  18. Cecilia says:

    Just beautiful. Saris are always so amazingly beautiful, I even don’t know why, maybe it is the colors.

  19. Madhu says:

    Lovely story and title Lynne. And I admire your persistence 🙂 None of them look ‘dressed up’ – those are everyday clothes – and it does not seem from your photos to be a religious procession. They could have been part of a women’s co-operative or some such thing. Does make for a beautiful picture 🙂

  20. I guess we turned this into a little side adventure and enjoyed our short encounter with the ladies. If our guide accompanied us, he could have translated. Even everyday clothes are beautiful to the eyes of a Westerner; so colorful. Blogger, Sumithra (from India) thought they were on their way to work. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Madhu.

  21. cindy knoke says:

    Amazing and stunning Lynne. Truly wonderful~

  22. So glad you liked our encounter, Cindy.

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