The Belly of the Indian Woman

Sometimes non-Indians wonder about the traditional costume of the Indian woman, the short blouse she wears under her sari that exposes her middle. Why is her bare belly revealed? Lest this custom be misunderstood, I would like to point out that it is not for any sexy allure, but in honor of the fertility of her womb that bears children.

To show reverence to femininity and motherhood through the womb (yoni) is a very ancient Indian tradition; Tantra is one highly developed form of this reverence to the yoni. The tradition is not limited to Tantra, however, but diffused throughout the culture. To this day, when an Indian man greets and embraces his mother (or an older female relative equivalent to his mother), he presses his face into her belly to pay homage to the womb where his life began.