What to Wear (and Expect) at the Next Big Fat South Asian Wedding

South Asian Wedding

by Amy Devan 

The following post was originally published on our partner website, India.com.

Wedding Season is around the corner—and if you’re South Asian—you probably have an average of 10 weddings to attend this spring/summer, right? That means 10 potential mehndi nights, sangeets, wedding ceremonies, and receptions, for a grand total of forty looks just for YOU! We explore what to wear for these occasions, how to be innovative with your existing wedding-guest wardrobe, and what to expect at the next big fat South Asian wedding!

1. Bare Those Shoulders

Taking inspiration from Spring-Summer 2016 Fashion Week runways around the world, jump on the exposed shoulder bandwagon this wedding season. Whether you opt for an off-shoulder, cut-outs, or a one-shoulder, you can’t go wrong with this look. Take a peek at how couturier, Manish Malhotra brings this look to life.

[Manish Malhotra’s off the shoulder lehenga from his Blue Runway Collection at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2015| Photo Source: Pinterest]

Take note of how the off-shoulder element elegantly transitions the look from a traditional lehenga to mimic the silhouette of a fusion gown. If you choose this two-piece look, keep it simple with the off-shoulder top, either in a solid—or if printed—with minimal to no embroidery. Let the voluminous or heavily embroidered lehenga-skirt stand on its own. The blouse nor the lehenga will compete with one another, instead, both pieces will compliment each other flawlessly.

Shown below is the designer Anushree Reddy’s fun, feminine, and flirty take on the exposed shoulder look and she has just enough modesty to keep the aunties from gossiping. In this look, the blouse is kept simplistic, but the detailed shrug has shoulder cut-outs in the most delicate of ways:

[Anushree Reddy’s shoulder cut-out lehenga from Lakme Fashion Week Winter Festive 2015 | Photo Source: Pinterest]   

Check out a somewhat similar cut-out trend for this season’s weddings below. Kalki Fashion’s zardozi embroidered lehenga has side and back cut-outs, thoughtfully placed and leaving just enough to the imagination.

[Blue and olive zardozi embroidered lehenga | Photo Source: Kalki Fashion]

2. All Things Floral

This trend really began to hit street style last year and hasn’t set sail just yet. Enjoy this ultra-feminine meets bohemian look this season before it’s time for a change. When the floral trend first shifted from runway to “real way,” the common theme was a floral lehenga skirt in pale pastels with pops of color, gotta border and more of a basic blouse. We suggest having fun with this look by pairing two floral patterns together in an unexpected, complimentary manner. Another head-turning option is to pair a floral print with a bold wide stripe print, balancing the girly-ness of the flowers with the chic, clean lines of the stripes. Here are a few free-spirited twists on florals we know you will lust over.

[(left) Sunaina Puri's floral lehenga with floral bodice from her winter 2014-2015 Armaan Collection | Photo Source: Pinterest, (right) Sabyasachi Mukherjee's floral lehenga with striped bodice | Photo Source: Pinterest][(Left) Sunaina Puri’s floral lehenga with floral bodice from her winter 2014-2015 Armaan Collection | Photo Source: Pinterest, (Right) Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s floral lehenga with striped bodice | Photo Source: Pinterest]  

If prints are not your cup of “style” tea and you prefer texture instead, go for a lehenga with floral embroidery instead. Try a look like Designer Fahad Hussayn’s bridal lehenga from his 2015 Nautanki Rani Collection.

[Fahad Hussayn's intricate Bridal lehenga from the 2015 Nautanki Rani Collection |Photo Source: (background) Pinterest, (Center) Pinterest][Fahad Hussayn’s intricate Bridal lehenga from the 2015 Nautanki Rani Collection |Photo Source: (Background) Pinterest, (Center) Pinterest

3. Crop Top Chic

The crop top frenzy really began in the 1980’s with Western street style fashion, and it has come back in a BIG way—now crossing waters to South Asian style. Sure, a sari blouse or choli could be considered a crop top, but what we are referring to takes influence from the West with clean lines and a bit of edge. The best part is this look is easy to replicate with some mixing and matching with your existing wardrobe!

First, try a lehenga you already have and pair it with a more modern crop top you also probably have. If you don’t have a crop you love, not to worry as it’s an easy find. Try mainstream retailers like Zara, Nastygal, or Top Shop. Now, let your styling creativity run wild! Essentially, you want your overall look to mimic something like this:

[Crop top lehenga’s | Photo Source: 1, 2, 3]

If you’re not a crop top lover, choose a longer top that still defines your waistline. It is 100 percent OK to choose something that is free-flowing and somewhat casual. Designer Siddhartha Tytler showed this easy-breezy styling trick at Amazon India’s Spring/Summer 2016 runway show.

[From Siddhartha Tytler's Amazon India's Spring/Summer 2016 runway | Photo Source: Pinterest][From Siddhartha Tytler’s Amazon India’s Spring/Summer 2016 runway | Photo Source: Pinterest

4. Gowns

We get it, you’re going to your best friend’s wedding and you want to dance the night away, hands-free and more importantly, fuss-free! One of the biggest wedding trends is wearing a gown in lieu of a traditional lehenga or sari! Now, we understand this is something we South Asians aren’t so used to wearing to a wedding, however, select a gown that ties to our roots in some way and problem solved! Check out how designer Siddhartha Tytler does gowns with just the right amount of tradition infused within:

[Siddhartha Tytler's gowns from his Amazon India's Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 Collection | Photo Source: Cosmopolitan India][Siddhartha Tytler’s gowns from his Amazon India’s Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 Collection | Photo Source: Cosmopolitan India

Shantanu and Nikhil’s gown’s are also to die for! They are mystical and whimsical, meshing east with west in the most effortless way. Our favorite collection is actually the Spring/Summer 2015 Collection: Advent of Dawn. The collection, as the label is known for, is feminine and soft mixed with raw rocker-girl vibes.

Along the same “hands-free” tone, is wearing—wait for it—PANTS! Not everyone is a gown gal, and actually, pants can easily take you from day-to-night so you don’t have to change between the wedding and reception you’re attending.

[(Left) Payal Singhal’s pant look | Photo Source: Pinterest (Right) Naveda Couture’s pant look | Photo Courtesy: Naveda Couture]

We hope you’ve enjoyed our wedding guest style mash-up. Moral of the story is, try something fresh and new. Choose silhouettes and colors that are unexpected, while keeping true to the occasion. We guarantee other guests will have major style envy!

Amy Devan headshotAfter completing her MBA in 2006, Amy Devan went on to work in marketing and business development among various industries. Though grateful for every professional path crossed, she had always been a creative spirit and ultimately decided to follow her childhood dream of design. One day, feeling overwhelmed by this unshakable passion, she left all things known to her, packed up her belongings and booked an exotic trip, half-way across the world to India – all to study the craftsmanship of her roots. Upon returning, and feeling more inspired than ever before, she moved to New York City to attend Parsons – The New School for Design. From that point, Naveda™ was born and the rest is history!

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

Holi Celebrations: A Time to Reflect on Diversity and Inclusion

Holi Celebrations

Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the coming of spring and is observed near the end of winter. It’s also referred to as the festival of colors or the festival of love. Although my daughters and I are not Hindus, (we are Sikhs) we still celebrate Holi. Our Holi celebrations always include reading about this festival, making colorful art, playing with the colorful powders, and making some delicious, traditional sweets. This is always such a great occasion to discuss the diversity of Indian culture with my daughters. I use this opportunity to teach them about inclusivity and respect for different cultures around the world. All across India, different states celebrate this festival in their own meaningful ways.

[Read Related: Holi With Kids: Celebrating the Festival With Your Family ]

My first experience celebrating this beautiful festival was in university. My roommates, friends and international students put together a lovely day of Holi celebrations outside. We were completely covered in variety of colors — pinks, purples, and blues. There was music, laughter, dancing, and an overall joyous atmosphere (including bhang, which is essentially a cannabis milkshake). It was particularly heartwarming to see so many Indian students coming together as a community, so far from home, to connect with such a beloved tradition.

For those of us, brought up in Canada, such celebrations were amazing opportunities to genuinely experience the true spirit of Holi. Similar to how it is done in India, everyone became one – there were no small groups or cliques doing their own thing; class lines and caste systems, predominant across India, disappeared. Everyone joined together; our skin tones hidden under the bright colours of the Holi powders. It surely was an unforgettable time.

As a child, I got to experience Holi only through Indian Cinema. Bollywood films like “Silsila,” “Darr,” and “Mohabbatein” stand out in my memory. The actors are dressed completely in white at the beginning of the song, enjoying Holi celebrations, and are then painted from head to toe, in various bright colours, by the end of the song. Since then, I’ve learned that certain colours hold meaning and significance. Red symbolizes love, fertility, and matrimony; blue represents the Lord Krishna; and green stands for new beginnings.

Now, as a mother, I don’t want my children to experience our culture through a screen. So we bring these Holi traditions into our home in our own creative ways. We certainly tend to get creative since around March there is still ample snow on the ground outside and a chill in the air!

The activities we have fun doing are:

  • Making rangoli designs using coloured powders (this is a helpful site we’ve used)
  • Making paper flowers to decorate the house with (like the ones here)
  • Making tie-dye shirts (we’ve got a kit for this because the girls love it)
  • Baking a traditional Indian snack, like gujiya (we bake them because I get paranoid about the girls being around hot oil).

[Read Related: Mithai Memories from Holi to Eid and Diwali]

Some of the books we enjoy reading are:

  • “Let’s Celebrate Holi!” by Ajanta Chakraborty and Vivek Kumar (for three to seven-year-olds)
  • “Festival of Colors” by Surishtha Seghal and Kabir Seghal (for two to eight-year-olds)
  • “Why Do We Celebrate Holi” by Anitha Rathod (for eight years old and above)

This year, Holi falls on the same date as International Women’s Day! To combine the two celebrations, my daughters and I plan on sketching South Asian females we look up to the most, and then adding bright colours using different types of paint. For another element of texture, we might add the paper flowers to these as well. I’m thinking these are going to be frame-worthy pieces of art!

By Taneet Grewal

Taneet Grewal's passion for storytelling began at the age of six with many fictional/magical characters. This grew into a love … Read more ›

The Family Immigration Process That’s Meant to Reunite, Keeps us Apart

These days, the phrase, “love knows no bounds” doesn’t seem to hold true. For many couples, specifically, those in long-distance relationships, the lengthy and complicated immigration process can keep lovers apart for six to 24 months. Well, aside from the thousands and thousands of miles of the deep ocean in between. I’ve been there; I have been an immigration attorney for 10 years and I found love abroad (my wife was living in the UK when we met).

I was flying across the Atlantic every few months so, as you can imagine, dating was quite expensive (though she quite liked the fact that for our first intentional visit, I paid several thousand pounds for a global migration conference as an excuse for flying over).

Marriage immigration is complex and costly. The eligibility and procedural requirements are confusing and require multiple long and complicated application forms over the course of six to eight years: from fiancé(e) or spouse visa through adjustment of status process, the Removal of Conditions Application, and thereafter applying for U.S. citizenship.

To put it in perspective, many immigration applications end up being 200-300 pages long. For you to know exactly what you need can be either extremely expensive — using an attorney, who typically charges $2,000-$12,000 per application (not including government-filing fees) — or time-consuming learning how to DIY. If you opt for the latter, it is quite scary to have to figure out the requirements and procedures and follow up with case status checks in hopes of finally getting some peace of mind that your case is progressing as it should. 

[Read Related: Tug of war: Brown Women and the Feat of Marriage]

The worst part? The grueling wait. Waiting while not knowing how long until you can bring love home; waiting to start a family — the next chapter of your life. You keep hearing people say, “life is short!” and you thought that you finally found a partner you want to spend it with. Unfortunately, life (bureaucratic procedures) get in the way. 

The combination of distance and long immigration processing times puts our next chapter ‘on pause’ while we do everything we can to bridge the gap — the gap that effectively challenges our ability to build a ‘real’ relationship. Or did it? Is there a test for this kind of thing? I mean, apparently, the U.S. Immigration Service (USCIS) seems to know what a “real” relationship is and tests ours against some “standard” to determine if it is genuine enough to grant a fiancé(e) visa or spousal green card. What makes a strong Fiancé(e) or Spouse visa application? I’ve experienced love; I am human. What do they want from me to bring my partner home?

I have been a U.S. immigration lawyer for over 10 years and I myself found love abroad and firsthand had to go through the process of bringing my spouse home to the United States. My wife is an NRI who grew up in the Philippines and lived in London where we met (more on how our meddlesome Indian families instigated our “meet-cute” in a future article). Having recently gone through this journey, and having helped hundreds of immigrant couples over the years, it became obvious that there had to be a better way. It should not be expensive, unaffordable, or overly complicated for you to bring your loved one home to become a family. 

[Read Related: How to Follow Your Heart, Even When it’s Hard]

When we were apart, we did everything from waking each other up in the middle of our respective nights, with the time difference, to one partner falling asleep with the other on the phone. We watched movies together on Netflix. We made travel plans and talked about what the future would look like. We craved each other and expressed our love daily, maybe even hourly.

The future can be uncertain for any couple, but perhaps even more so for those in a long-distance relationship. When one partner is waiting for a spousal visa or fiancé visa, there can be a lot of anxiety and stress about the process and wait times. Even one mistake can set the whole process back months or even years and, if you are not familiar with the process, there’s always the overhanging uncertainty of whether or not the visa will be approved altogether. 

In today’s globalized world where borders are becoming less relevant than ever before, largely thanks to technological advances which allow individuals across countries via Facetime, WhatsApp, and Skype chats without having left home, there is more of a need for a streamlined immigration tech platform that helps “modern” couples who are dating long-distance with the help of technology.

The number one reason Fiancé(e) visa or Spouse visa applications are denied is lack of documentation evidencing your relationship/intent to marry. This article shows what evidence you can provide USCIS to prove you have a genuine relationship and thereby strengthen your visa application. OurLoveVisa.com is an immigration attorney-designed platform that provides free tools and features to help couples going through the U.S. K-1 or marriage visa process plan, manage, and track their immigration journey. Many couples going through the K-1 fiancé visa process, or CR-1/IR-1 spouse visa process, have found its relationship timeline tool, which is as easy to use as Instagram, helpful in building their application. The best part: it’s free to use. The OurLoveVisa.com platform was built so you can focus on what is truly important, your relationship!

The long, unreasonable immigration processing/wait times are definitely another topic for discussion and, as time goes on, I will continue to share and elaborate on my and my wife’s joint and individual journeys through marriage, immigration, and closing the gap from our long-distance relationship. In the meantime, I hope the information provided will bring value to you and your journey.

By Kunal Tewani

Kunal Tewani is a US immigration lawyer who grew up in New York with his extended family under one roof. … Read more ›

Bold Helmets: Tina Singh’s Innovation is a Multi-Sport Solution

Image source: Tina Singh

Tina Singh, formerly known as Mombossof3 online, understands how to make her presence known in the parenting space. Seven years ago, she set out to create and share content related to motherhood, and there’s been no looking back since. Singh has mastered the idea of evolving with the times and the needs of her audience while staying true to her number one role in life — mom!

As she navigated her personal and professional life through the lens of a parent, she came across a void that just wasn’t being filled. So, in typical Singh style, this mom of three put her entrepreneurial hat on and got down to creating a solution for Sikh kids who struggled to find a helmet that fits over their patkas (a small cloth head covering).

The problem was personal — all three of Singh’s sons wear patkas and just couldn’t find the right helmet for their safety — and so the solution had to be homegrown. Enter, the Bold Helmets.

Singh gave Brown Girl Magazine an exclusive interview in which she talked about the Bold Helmets, the change in her journey since she’s become a public figure, and what it was like to innovate her very first product!

Here’s how it went:

Let’s start from the beginning. How did this idea come to mind?

This idea has been in my head for many, many years — over five years. I had issues with my kids and having helmets fit them after they turned age four or five.

I worked as an Occupational Therapist, in the head injury space, so I was always the one saying, ‘Okay kids, you’re gonna have to tie your hair in the back, do braids, or something in order to put on a helmet properly because I’m not gonna let you go down these bike ramps without a helmet!’ That’s just not okay for me.

So I talked to my husband and said, ‘there’s gotta be another way this works.’ So we did all the things that parents in situations like these do — they hollow out the helmets, some people go as far as cutting holes at the top of the helmet — you do what works. But I had in my mind an idea of what I think the helmet should look like based on what a patka looks like, and what my kids look like. I then found an engineer to draw it out for me to bring [my idea] to a place where I can actually take it somewhere and say, ‘Okay, how do I make this?’

But, yes, it started mainly with my kids and facing that struggle myself.

You mention that this idea had been brewing in your mind for over five years. How long did it take you to actually bring it to life?

To this point, it’s been about two and a half to three years. I let it sit in my mind for a while. Winters come here in Canada and then we forget about it again until we have to go skiing, and then there’s another problem, right?! I did let it lay dormant for a bit for sure, but once I made the commitment to do it, I made up my mind to see it all the way through.

You recently pivoted and changed the name of the product to the Bold Helmets. Can you talk me through how you came up with the new name?

Bold Helmets became the name because they’re designed to be bold, to be different and who you are. I also think that the way the helmet is made, even though it’s made with Sikh kids in mind, there are other applications to it. I do think that taking the Bold Helmets approach embodies its [the product’s] uniqueness and really focuses on being bold and who you are.

And the Bold Helmet is multi-sport, correct?

This helmet is certified for bicycles, kick scooters, skateboards, and inline skating. It is not a ski helmet. So every helmet you use for a different sport has a different safety certification or testing that it has to go through. So, this helmet is called ‘multi-sport’ because it covers those four sports but I wouldn’t take this helmet and use it for skiing. I’d have to make sure that this helmet, or a helmet like this, gets certified for various other standards for other sports.

Makes sense! I want to change the course of the conversation here a bit and talk more about how you pivoted from Mombossof3 to innovating your very first product. How was that experience?

So what I did throughout this journey was that I went from marketing myself as ‘mombossof3’ to ‘Tina Singh’ because I was sharing more of my life’s journey as my kids were getting older and in an effort to respect my children’s space as well, and letting them decide how much — or how little — they want to be involved with what I was doing online. And part of that was about the journey of what I was doing next, and the transition came naturally to me.

I think right now, truthfully, I’m struggling in the space where I kind of have a shift in audience and so my usual, everyday self that I share on social seems like it doesn’t work. I feel like I need to find a new balance; I will always be true to who I am, and I will never present myself as something that I’m not. But, just finding a space for me to continue creating content while also taking on this new endeavor with Bold Helmets, is important right now.

Aside from this struggle of finding that new balance, what is that one challenge that really sticks out to you from this journey?

I think my biggest challenge being an entrepreneur is finding that balance between my responsibilities as a parent, which is my number one role in my life and there’s no one that can take that role for me — my husband and I are the only parents — and passions outside of that.

Do you think it helped that you were creating a helmet for Sikh children so it allowed you to pursue your passion but also work with your kids in some capacity since they inspired the whole idea?

I never thought of it that way, but yes actually, it did! So all my entrepreneurial projects have involved my kids. Even now they were involved in picking the colors, all the sample tests we did they tried the helmets on! They’re probably sick of it since they’re constantly trying on helmets, but I get their opinion on them. Even as we pivoted with the name, we involved them and got their feedback on it also. So, they were involved in very large parts of this project.

And my husband is also a huge part of this project. He’s been heavily involved in this process, too!

You have a huge online presence, and I know that you’re probably not new to trolling and bullying that comes with being on social media. More recently, Bold Helmets was subject to a lot of backlashes. Is there something that you took away from this recent experience? Was it different this time around?

The extent to which things got was different this time around and that’s not something I have faced in the past. But I have been in the online space for about seven years now, and I’m accustomed to it. I think what I learned this time around is that sometimes silence and reflection is the best thing you can do. Sometimes reflecting and not being defensive on feedback that you get — and this may be something that comes with age as well as experience — is best.

But, I’m happy with the pivots we made, the feedback we’ve gotten, and the way we’re moving forward.

You mentioned that this isn’t your first entrepreneurial venture. But each experience teaches you something different. What did you learn while working on Bold Helmets?

I learned to be okay with taking things slow. I’ve never been that person; I’ve always jumped the gun on lots of things. It’s understanding that it’s ok to slow down and recognize that things have to just run their course.

And while the interview wraps up there, there is more to come with Singh on her journey! Catch Lifestyle Editor Sandeep on Instagram LIVE this Saturday, January 28, at 10 a.m. EST, as she has a more in-depth conversation with Singh on Bold Helmets and more!

In the meantime, Bold Helmets are available for pre-order now, and as a small token of appreciation, Canadian pre-orders will get $10 off their purchase until the end of January 2023!

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›