It was pure luck that me and my sister found this saree on a random op-shop trip. It cost us $10.25 and the combination of peach and olive green was a winner on my skin tone. Our previous cultural shoot was about the traditional dress of the Sinhalese ethnic group and it was only natural to do our take on the next biggest ethnic group.
Our aim was to highlight the things we love about the traditional dress of a Tamil lady. My sister took charge of the makeup, opting for red and brown tones for the eyes and finishing it off with kajal. We “stole” our mother’s gold jewelry, and although we are not partial to it, we can certainly see the appeal after this shoot.
Ethnic differences can be considered internal differences, especially from an outsiders perspective. There are a lot more similarities between the Sinhalese and Tamil people than differences. Genetically, we all come from India (exactly where we don’t know) and if we really want to go back in time, all of us come from the African subcontinent.
However, the failure to identify and respect these internal differences of religion and culture, even in a simple photo shoot is an echo of the type of attitude which led to the civil war; a 30 year long dispute between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils.
We shot at the Kovil at Carrum Downs, Melbourne, starting off with a personal prayer asking for the blessings of Lord Ganesha (remover of obstacles) in our private attempt at bringing attention to Tamil culture, through our medium of clothes, makeup and photography. As our prayers came to a close, the sun shone brightly and the Sunday crowd lessened and we took our shots.
Model – myself. Saree draping – also by myself and the neat drapes disappeared as the day went by. SIGH.