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Bollywood guides NRIs fashion choice

An increasing number of Indo-Canadian women these days are giving up their western outfits for the traditional Indian sari.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2007 19:06 IST

An increasing number of Indo-Canadian women these days are giving up their western outfits for the traditional Indian sari, thanks to an inner urge ignited by Bollywood, to go back to the roots.

"The sari is definitely making a comeback with young girls," said Jitinder Wirk, who opened her store Mehar in Vancouver three years ago.

"A few decades ago, when the Indo-Canadian population was still very small, women faced pressure from within the community to trade in their saris in favour of western styles," said Hugh Johnston, a retired history professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnby, British Columbia and author of two books on the Indo-Canadian community.

Adopting western dress was seen as part of the community's effort to win acceptance in Canada, the Globe and Mail reported.

"When I was growing up, saris were worn by women getting married and older. Now, teenagers are wanting and embracing saris," said Wirk.

"People are getting back to their roots, trying to get back into Indian fashion," said Inder Jandoo, owner of Toronto's Sonu Saree Palace.

"For many Indo-Canadian young girls, the saris represent glamour and romance, thanks to Bollywood movies. Those films show all the beautiful girls and handsome boys. Saris and romance go hand in hand," he said.

"Between 30 and 40 per cent of my clientele are teenage girls," Jandoo added.

"I choose to wear the sari because of its cultural significance. It makes me feel in touch with my culture and my femininity," said Navi Gill, a 20-year-old Indo-Canadian restaurant worker.

"It makes me feel like more of a woman," she said.

"We've always been trying to be western to fit in, but now Indian fashion and culture is more accepted," said Bains-Gill, who runs a sari boutique in Surrey. Gill added that she feels proud when she sees people wearing Indian clothes.

In recent months, Hollywood celebrities Elizabeth Hurley and Jennifer Lopez have also been spotted wearing saris. Hurley wore hers for her wedding to Indian entrepreneur Arun Nayar in March.