Colorful Indian fashion makes a stop in mid-Missouri

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 | 9:54 p.m. CDT; updated 7:15 a.m. CDT, Thursday, June 12, 2014
Traditional Indian garments are displayed at the UCarnival 2014 Fashion Fiesta on Wednesday at the Hampton Inn and Suites. The event gave shoppers an opportunity to purchase garments that are hard to find in Columbia.

COLUMBIA — An assortment of blues, greens, pinks and oranges adorned the walls of the dimly lit ballroom at the Hampton Inn and Suites. Tiny beads covered the silk fabric filling rows of tables with Indian garments ready for purchase.

UCarnival 2014 Fashion Fiesta, a traveling group that sells authentic Indian garments, made a stop in Columbia on Wednesday during its fashion tour.

The event was sponsored by Utsav Fashion, the global market leader in ethnic Indian fashion, according to their website.

Customers browsed the clothes rack of embroidered, silk woven sarees and pastel-colored cotton gowns not typically found in Columbia.

"When we go back to India, we buy a lot of clothing there and bring it back," said Vibha Khengar, a resident of Columbia for 18 years. "It's cheaper there."

Khengar and her daughter, Payal, heard about the event through an email Listserv where they saw an ad for the event.

Sarees, salwars and Indo-Western tunics were among the types of garments customers could purchase. These garments are more ceremonial and worn for special occasions, such as weddings, not for everyday use, said Columbia resident and customer Alagu Arunachalam.

A saree is fabric draped around the body, whereas a salwar is a gown both men and women wear, sometimes in a more casual manner.

"Sarees are a lot more formal," said Payal Khengar.

Along with the scarcity of clothing from southern Asian in Columbia, the proper handling of these garments also poses a challenge.

When bringing formal Indian garments in to be dry-cleaned, you do so at your own risk, Vibha Khengar said.

These articles of clothing are delicate and need to be handled with "extra-care." Some people even take their clothing back to India to be dry-cleaned properly, said Arunachalam.

UCarnival 2014 Fashion Fiesta will be stopping next in Memphis.

Supervising editor is Mary Ryan.

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