Réunion is most times cited as an example of racial and religious harmony in comparison with mainland France. Réunion Island is a French overseas department located in the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. It is the crossroad of African, Asian, and European civilization. Little wonder that Réunion Island is multicultural and also a true melting pot of cultures.
In the actual sense, cultural diversity forms an integral part of the island's social fabric, such that, Réunion has the same population mix of Africans, Europeans, Indians, and Chinese as well as Mauritius, but in varying proportions. However, Cafres (people of African ancestry) are the largest ethnic group, comprising about 45% of the population. Therefore, there is no well defined or propagated cultural construct on which the traditions of the country hinge on.
When it comes to traditional wedding in the island country, there always tend to be varying choice of traditional outfit for the wedding.
Saris are being worn by some couples, especially the Indian descents in the country. The sari is highly revered as part of the strongest symbols of the Réunion culture. Also, the attire is worn at important occasions by women of a higher social rank who prefer a more European style of clothing over this one.
A sari, also spelled saree or shari, can be described as a band of cotton or silk cloth that varies between 60 centimeters and 1.20 meters in width size and which can vary in length from 5 to 6 meters. Originally, the sari is a South Asian garment worn primarily by women of the Hindu creed.
Often times, this attire can be wrapped around the waist with one end left hanging over the shoulder.
As a simple attire at first sight, the sari indeed holds the past and representation of a stunning and important nature.
In reality, the sari cannot be dissociated from the gracefulness of the female body that wears it. It is a soft and silky garment which is constantly on a trendy scale and so demands more attention than a stitched piece of clothing.
The sari is usually worn over a ‘parkar’ ( petticoat) tied at the waist and a tight blouse, the choli, covers the shoulders and the chest but leaves the stomach bare. This, it covers and uncovers all at once, expressing a subtle and elegant sensuality. In most cases, the wealthy brides in the country do let the lower hem of their sari trail to the ground to cover their feet. It really showcase elegance and class.
A sari can also considered to be a suitable gift to be offered on such an occasion as a wedding or for the rakh between brothers and sisters. And it is not limited to just the women. As a man, the choice and buying of sari can be representative of adulthood in the country. The patterns used on a sari are far from being merely decorative, as it possess a symbolism which has been linked throughout history with local traditions and religion.
For every sari, there is a pallu. The pallu is the end part of the sari, the trailing piece of cloth worn freely over the shoulder.
However, donning in just sari is not enough without the basic accessories required to look fabulous for that big day. Some of the fashion plus for the sari are; earrings matching with the sari color, decorative hair accessories, and bindins.
Furthermore, for the Muslim women in Réunion, they always put on the Hijab for their traditional wedding. This is to cover their hair and neck. This is hinged on Islam being imperative for the women’s hair to be covered as being part of their intimacy and sensuality.
Most times, the Hijab is usually matching to the attire of the bride, and in Réunion, it is worn in various fashions, from classical, to elaborate styles. In general, they may be plain, colorful, patterned or decorated with brooches.
Also, Réunion patchwork dresses are also being worn by the bride to exclusively represent a tier of the country’s culture. This patchwork dress is always made of floral prints and designs with different styles and fairy-hem line.