'We didn't wear saris as children....'

Sathi's recollection of clothing from the way they wore series.

By Lu Pearson

Photo:The Wedding Sari

The Wedding Sari

From WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Sathi, in one of her beautiful Sari's

Sathi, in one of her beautiful Sari's

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Sathi comes from Sri Lanka and has been in England for 35 years.

She wears beautiful saris and shares stories of how in the 1950s when she was young in Sri Lanka they had all the latest gramophones and dances that young people of a similar age in Britain had. She said that Colombo the capital of Sri Lanka was very cosmopolitan and sophisticated.  So they had all the music, dances and fashion very similar to here.  Her mother used to make them all the fifties petticoats for the flouncy dresses....

The Queen Visits

'We didn't wear saris as children - we'd wear our school uniforms or 'frocks' and sometimes my Mother made clothes for us. Maybe some of the clothes that she bought for us were imported. I started wearing saris to go out, when I was about 18 or 19 years old, and then I wore them most of the time once I got married. You can buy cheap clothes now, they're not made to last. I liked the fashions back then. There were lovely dresses that were made of 'glazed cotton', and clothes made of 'seersucker' material. I remember seeing the Queen in 1954 in Ceylon. She was on a Commonwealth tour. Clothes were so expensive but we all dressed up. The Queen was like a god. My Mum made two dresses for me, just in case one went wrong. This event was talked about and remembered fondly in my family'.

Flavours and Tastes

'Christmas started in September when we were making the cake, soaking it in brandy. Christmas was a lovely atmosphere, carols and everything, party frocks, lots of frills. Lots of relatives, so many religions in Sri Lanka so we were allowed two public holidays per religion per year - Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Tamil...so we all celebrated everything! We had Natal Papa (Father Christmas). We ate turkey, chicken, whatever. There was all the cinnamon trade with the Arabs until 1507. After this point, Portuguese sailors were washed ashore in Colombo and within 500 years, followed by Dutch and English. So many flavours and tastes were introduced into Sri Lankan food'.

13 Gold Sovereigns

'My wedding dress was a pure silk red sari, the wedding colour. It was red with gold thread and a red choli (top) underneath. Lots of gold jewellery and flowers. My friends helped me to get dressed on my wedding day. The flowers were Jasmine and I wore lipstick. I had a red spot on my forehead made from turmeric, which is also used as an antiseptic. Women wear a black spot on their forehead before they get married, red after. My husband wore a pure silk sarong, it was ivory silk and a kind of Salwar Kameez over it. It went down to his ankles. He didn't wear shoes, nor did I. It is a tropical country so we didn't wear shoes, only the British wore shoes. They made us wear them in church'.

'We had two wedding ceremonies: one civil registry, and one cultural ceremony. At the cultural ceremony, they put a solid gold necklace around my neck. Mine had 13 gold sovereigns on it (there always has to be a primary number of coins on a necklace, so that it is non divisible... like the couple!). I didn't have a honeymoon, people did have them in Si Lanka, but I came to England to join my husband who was living here. It was really miserable!'

Sathi also took part in a reminiscence about her worklife this can be found here.

Special thanks to the illustrator Hannah Eaton and Trevor Povey who acted as the series Historian.

The reminiscence facilitators during these sessions were Imogen Christie and Nicola Benge.

This page was added by Lu Pearson on 06/06/2009.

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