Fusion

8 Indian Fusion Hits and Misses

Perfecting an Indian fusion look can be slightly tricky. The goal is to merge Indian and American cultures in a way that will highlight the best of both worlds in order to create an effortless look that can easily transition between both cultures. There are 2 different types of Indian fusion looks:

  1. American inspired Indian Fashion
  2. Indian inspired American Fashion

Both these sound pretty much the same, but in reality are very different in approach.

American inspired Indian fashion is when you modernize a traditional Indian garment by breaking apart the pieces and pairing them with something new. For example, instead of wearing a sari blouse with sari, switch it up and pair it with a simple maxi skirt instead.

Indian inspired American fashion is when you take a basic outfit – such as jeans and a top and spice it up with Indian accessories or even switch out a basic top for one made with Indian fabrics or Indian prints. This method is the easier choice if you don’t have Indian garments or if you want to take a less dramatic approach.

Today I want to share 8 different looks, 4 which were hits and 4 which missed completely

1) The Sari-Dress

Hit

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Miss

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2) Fusion Separates

Hit

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Miss

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3) Sheer Overlays

Hit

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Miss

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4) The Modified Sari – Dress

Hit

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Miss

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ToeRingCeremony

If you like it, put a (toe) ring on it

Toe rings were such a huge fad in the mid 90s – especially for teenagers rocking their peace signs and studded floral toe rings. However the trend went downhill in the early 2000s with half of women wearing toe rings in secret and half the women swearing them off completely, wondering why they were ever seen with such an embarrassing piece of jewelry. But, earlier this year, an article on Huffington Post “officially” declared that toe rings are cool again!

So what am I doing talking about toe rings on my Indian fusion blog?

Take a wild guess.

Would you believe me if I said that toe rings can actually be traced back to the 5th century BC, to an ancient Indian text called the Ramayana? In the Ramayana, a demon king, Ravana, abducts the Hindu Goddess Sita, who throws her toe ring in the pathway so that her consort, Lord Rama, can recognize it and find the way to her! (And guys wonder why we get mad when they don’t remember what any of our stuff looks like – take notes!)

This illustration shows Goddess Sita throwing her toe ring onto the ground as the Demon King, Ravana, abducts her

This illustration shows Goddess Sita throwing her toe ring onto the ground as the Demon King, Ravana, abducts her. (click to enlarge)

Ever since then, toe rings have been a symbol of married woman in India. In fact, in many Indian cultures, not only does the groom place a wedding ring on the bride’s finger, but he also places a toe ring on both of the bride’s second toes during a Hindu wedding ceremony. Apart from being a symbol of marriage, Indians believe that wearing toe rings benefit a women’s reproductive system. It is said that toe rings put pressure on the nerves that run from the second toe to the uterus and up to the heart. The pressure in return helps to keep the reproductive system balanced and regulates the menstrual cycle, benefiting the woman when conceiving a child. Because of this theory, most people in India still disapprove of unmarried women wearing toe rings, even in today’s age.

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Groom places a toe ring on each of the bride’s second toes during a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony Photo Credit: Archana RJ Photography

Toe rings in India are most commonly made from silver and can be simple or decorative with stonework and color. You may see toe rings made of other metals as well, but rarely will you ever see one made of real gold. This is because gold is considered the metal of the gods and can be linked to Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth), so it is therefore disrespectful and inappropriate to touch gold with your feet*. More often than not, the rings are worn in matching pairs, with one on each second toe.

*This holds true to any item or symbol linked with God - read about OM here
Traditional Indian Toe Rings

Traditional Indian Toe Rings

So how did the toe ring even come to be such a fashion trend?

A woman by the name of Marjorie Borell noticed the unique idea of accessorizing your toes while on a trip to India. When she returned back home to New York, she decided to begin manufacturing and selling her own toe rings to local retailers and they eventually made their way to Bloomingdales and soon after caught on and spread all over the country. Though the origin and historical significance of the toe ring runs so deep, it has become a normal accessory for anyone to wear. It is also very common to see the newer generations of Indian woman outside of India wearing toe rings as a regular accessory, regardless of marital status.

Toe rings have been given a bad reputation thanks to the horrible choice and styling of them in the 90s. But now that you know the true amazing origin and cultural significance, I truly believe they deserve a second chance. Toe rings are a beautiful way to accessorize your feet when barefoot at the beach, or to make your feet look more glamorous even in a pair of boring flip-flops. They come in so many styles and varieties that they can be dressed up or dressed down for any occasion. Take a look at some of these amazing styles,they are irresistible.

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#ReclaimTheBindi

I know I’m late on the whole social media movement #ReclaimTheBindi, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to give my own take on the movement in order to help people properly perceive Indian Culture.

My main goal is to get people to understand the significance and importance of certain aspects of Indian culture, and incorporate them respectfully and accurately in their own lives. Growing up, it was extremely hurtful to be made fun of or talked down to for so many different things that indicated that I was of Indian origin, such as “that red dot thingy” on my forehead (which is called a bindi). So of course it’s bittersweet to see that people are now appropriating Indian culture because it’s often done so in a way that completely disrespects it. I used to think that we needed to get people to stop wearing bindis and completely hand it back over to Indian culture.

But after really thinking about it, isn’t that the opposite of what we wanted our whole lives? We wanted people to recognize what a bindi was, and we wanted them to be okay with the idea that we wear dots on our foreheads, so why stop them from wearing them?

So yes, I completely support #reclaimthebindi – but I want to reclaim and restore the value, the significance and the importance of it, not just the bindi itself. I want people to wear bindis, but I want people to know WHY they are wearing it and how meaningful that small dot, or collection of dots is.

Believe it or not, the tradition of applying a bindi to the forehead can be traced back almost 5000 years in India! Historically, only married Hindu women wore the bindi to symbolize their marriage. However as time went on, the bindi became more of a religious symbol that both men and women wore for prayers and ceremonies. The bindis we see nowadays are bedazzled and colorful in the form of stickers, though the traditional bindi was just a simple dot of vermillion colored powder. Even today, the traditional vermillion powder continues to be used for religious ceremonies and in temples as well.

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A traditional Hindu priest wearing the vermillion powder bindi

In today’s day and age, the bindi has become a very beautiful and important accessory to complete any Indian outfit. That doesn’t mean that we have forgotten or ignored the religious and cultural significance of it, so we don’t want anyone else to forget it either. It seems that no Coachella outfit is ever complete without a bunch of sparkly dots shimmering across your forehead. But it seems a little ridiculous to me because the only time I would find that normal is if you were an Indian bride.

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Traditional Indian bridal bindi

Here is where it gets tricky – I want everyone to embrace this tradition, but unfortunately there really isn’t a correct way to do it in a “fusion” sense. It’s disrespectful and odd to see people wearing bindis while intoxicated at Coachella, or while twerking in “exotic” themed music videos. This trend has become so widespread that it is close to impossible to stop people from wearing the bindi, but we still can save the culture. Let’s stop calling it “exotic” or “trendy” or “hipster.” Instead, help to spread the awareness and acknowledge and retain its true Indian value.

Take a look at the historical evolution of the Bindi through these images: 

ancient olddd bindi bindiiA Woman at the Jaisamer Fair, Rajasthan shruti deeskylie vanessa selena2

Please leave your comments below!

-Deepika

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‘Om’ is where the heart is ॐ

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class – you’ll be all too familiar with the sound “Om.” Maybe you’re super excited because you just bought Lulu Lemon’s “Om pant” on sale and can’t wait to wear it to yoga class.

But what is Om? If I asked you to define it – I can almost guarantee the answer will include “spiritual” and “one with the universe” or “body, mind & spirit” and so on.

Yes, all of that is true and definitely does apply to yoga and meditation, but Om has SO much more cultural significance than that!

Om (or Aum) is an incantation that originates in ancient Hindu texts and is recited at the beginning and end of Hindu prayers and religious ceremonies. It is a symbol that Hindus wear as pendants or rings to serve as a reminder of our dedication to our religion. In reality, it’s analogous to Christians wearing a Cross and reciting “Amen” at the end of a religious service.

We place an emblem of Om in our new cars, at the door of our new homes and, I’ll admit, I’ve drawn it on every single exam I’ve ever taken, because it serves as a symbol of good luck and protection (also why I intentionally chose this topic as my first post)!

Hindus strongly believe that no form or representation of God should ever touch the feet, as it shows disrespect, so you’ll never see an Om tattooed on our feet or see it dangling from an anklet for that very reason. However, there are so many other ways and places to respectfully and appropriately symbolize Om in your own fashion!

1) Accessories!

The jewelry brand ALEX AND ANI has a beautiful collection of Om necklaces, earrings and bracelets – See More

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2) Tattoos!

Tattoos are also a great way to show off your Om – and there are so creative ways to match your personality, just be mindful of the placement of the tattoos.

om tattoo 3   rittat  moon-and-om-tattoos-on-fingers  tat

3) Apparel

It is absolutely appropriate to wear Om on a t-shirt or as a print on a shawl. Om inspired apparel is so prevalent within the yoga community that is it easy to get your hands on tank tops that can be easy styled and worn outside the yoga studio as well! It should be pretty obvious that wearing Om undergarments or endorsing drugs and alcohol while wearing Om is highly disrespectful and inappropriate.

I love these Om girl tops by Everfitte available on Etsy

il_570xN.784899288_naix  om sweater

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here next week with a brand new topic :)

Please do leave your feedback or any questions/comments/concerns you have

-Deepika

Introduction

Welcome to DeeFusion!

The inspiration behind this fashion & lifestyle blog comes from my own fused up double life. Growing up as a first generation Indian–American I had to balance fitting in to a normal American lifestyle while maintaining the strong relationship I had with my Indian roots. Sounds easy to do now, but let me give you a little flashback to what life was like for me in the early 90s:

Situation 1: Going back to school after an Indian wedding

Friend: OMG what happened to your hands!?!?

Me: It’s mehndi (henna)!

Friend: Ew why does it look like you have a disease???

Situation 2: The elementary school lunchroom

Me: Hey do you guys want to try some?

Friend: “Ew what is that it!? looks like poop!”

Me: Um…It’s chutney…

…and so you get the idea, which is why it makes me SO happy that people are finally recognizing and moreover ACCEPTING the beautiful Indian culture that I’m so proud to be a part of.

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There’s just one problem – nobody fully knows or understands the real cultural significance of the things they are doing and sometimes end up unintentionally disrespecting Indian culture. Tattooing religious symbols on your feet is one such example – (I will get into more detail on this in my next post)

As for the name DeeFusion: As a fashion designer, my idea is to help educate people about Indian culture via fashion and DIFFUSE my thoughts about my culture throughout your life, so that we can all learn to appreciate the true meaning behind the symbols that come from this beautiful culture.

Thanks for stopping by and I can’t wait to share more!

-Deepika