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This Woman Is Trying To Reclaim The Saree In America, And It's Working


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Since September, 2015, Rawal has been Instagramming images of herself wearing sarees, using the hashtag #SareeNotSorry.

"#SareeNotSorry started as a teaching experiment in September 2015," Rawal told BuzzFeed.


"My mom helped me organise the sarees. A group of her friends pulled out their simplest sarees and let me borrow them for this project. We call them the Saree Ladies of Baton Rouge. But my mom did all the hard work of fixing blouses and stitching on the fall to some of the sarees," she said.

She explained that she didn't expect much to come out of the project, but loves the fact that women are starting to embrace the saree.

Tanya Rawal

"I wanted to perform the intersection of the multiple social identities and political systems that shape my everyday life. And being a brown woman is definitely a complicated position. Especially since 9/11. And especially with the increasing hatred towards immigrants in the United States. The Gurdwara shootings in Wisconsin, the police attack on Sureshbhai Patel in Alabama, and the death of Parminder Singh Shergill are just a few recent examples of the violence experienced in Indian-American communities," she added.


"We are attacked for looking like we don’t belong. And these attacks are justified with this idea that anyone brown is potentially a terrorist."

Tanya Rawal

"Fashion can politically align you with a place. And right now is not the time for me to politically align with the United States. Now when people look at me they have to see a different culture. A different fashion. A different aesthetic," she added while speaking about her project.

Rawal stated that she's trying to kill hate by embracing the beauty of the saree.

Via Instagram: @saree.not.sorry

"Most people praise the beauty of the saree. So it is a great position for me, because I can tell they feel uncomfortable with me, but the beauty of the saree makes them react kindly. I feel like it is the equivalent of killing your enemy with kindness. … I am killing hate with the beauty of the saree."


She also explained that it's actually really difficult to buy a saree in the U.S.


"If you live in a city with a big Indian population you can probably find a street or two that will remind you of India. But you can’t really find the everyday wear that would easily fit into an Indian-American’s wardrobe. Well not yet. I am working with a few friends right now. We are developing a small line of everyday sarees. Let’s see what happens in April 2016."

"I’m Indian and American. I was trained in Indian classical dance. I grew up singing bhajans, but I also started listening to Tupac when I was 12."

Tanya Rawal

"I have spent a lot of time in India. I have seen a lot of South Asia. And I love it more than any other place in this world. I taught at University of Delhi. And I felt like I was in the right place. It is a feeling I don’t always have in the United States. So being Indian-American is painful for me sometimes. But I am grateful that my mother and nana gave me the tools to keep India close to my heart," she added.