When About.com travel writer Sharell Cook went to Kerala recently to experience two Mahindra Homestays she got more than she expected.
At the opulent Meenachil Enclave homestay in Kottayam she learnt about wrapping a sari (or saree). This is a typical example of the extra value that visitors get when they choose homestays and, in turn, book themselves an authentic slice of regional Indian life.
But what Sharell learnt may have been different if she’d chosen a homestay in northern India. Or eastern or central. Because there are actually many different ways to wrap a sari and it often depends on where you come from.
Are you a sari wearer? Let us know your sari style!
Probably India’s most popular style. Tidily pleated around the waist and then draped over the left shoulder.
The Gujarati/North Indian
Like the Nivi, but in reverse. The drape goes over the right shoulder, and it is pulled over from the back rather than the front.
Mostly adopted in Tamil Nadu, this is a two piece sari: a wrap around the waist (like wearing a towel) and a drape over the shoulder. Sometimes finished off with a decorative pleat at the back.
Popular with Brahmin women, this one sees the sari held out behind the body and centred. The ends are brought together at the front, tied and then wrapped around the legs. Finally the drape comes over the body via the back.
In the communities of central India, the Gond – named after the ancient Gond kingdom – is often chosen. It covers much of the body and is also draped over the head.
These are just a few. There are dozens more variations, some of them derivatives of a style, like the Nivi family of saris. Others are tribal styles, and sometimes quite unusual.
To find out more, take a look at this video below. For practical experience, why not book yourself a trip to a Kerala homestay like Sharell did?
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.