☀ India is a very diverse country. Its big territory incorporates a big number of regions (states). Every state has its own language, traditions, in one word - pecularities. However ways of life in India are as much similar everywhere as diverse if you take into account local cultural characteristics.
We live in a city which is a capital of two states - Punjab and Haryana. Both the states have their own respective languages (besides Hindi), Punjabi and Haryanvi, as well as their own population. Punjab has a predominant population of Sikhs, while Hindus is a majority in Haryana. Both the cultures put a significant influence on our city Chandigarh. Though the city itself is a creation of the middle of 20th century, it has quite modern buildings and well organized streets, the people here cannot be called "open" enough to accept the changes of the life style so soon.
Before coming here I read a lot about Indian culture, some restrictions of it, Indian clothing etc. But when it came to practically experiencing it I had hard times (how many?) adjusting, especially in a sense of dressing up. First I noticed girls and women here wear mostly Indian suits, kurtas with slacks, quite long t-shirts, jeans and pants even during hot summer, and almost always "dupatta" (Indian light scarf) over their neck and shoulders.
Second of all I had to forget wearing skirts till knees, too open tops, or even Capri which revealed my ankles and calves, or wear anything too tight or too transparent. These were explained to me by my D, not because he himself was so conservative but because people, basically, males, used to stare at any part of your body which was open, and he didn't like at all his girlfriend to be stared at which was anyways unavoidable because I attracted attention as a foreigner walking the streets with an Indian man.
Okay I must admit Russian women are pretty free to wear what they please, I can even say they won't bother asking anyone what they may wear, they decide the appropriate dress for the occasion themselves. Some days I was just fine with the wardrobe limitations, some days we had big fights over another matter: I wanted to wear at least shorts because it was so damn hot, but I couldn't simply because of "others". I used to say that I couldn't adjust for each and everyone, that I was annoyed by constantly checking if my bra strap didn't come out by accident, and if it did, to feel ashamed and hurriedly hide it under my top. I felt irritated, disappointed, angry.
I also started wearing more of open sandals, slippers, mostly on low heels. It is actually more comfy in summer because your feet don't get tired that soon as on high heels or wedges. But shoes type here is totally your choice.
Luckily times have changed a little since then. A year ago, 4 days before our anniversary, we went to the shopping mall. My D then said, looking at the females there who wore dresses and skirts, and sundresses, that the people had started changing their thinking. And that was the day I got a dress which was only till knees. However I'd wear it only when I am with D.
Also now I don't have complaints since I can wear sleeveless tops and thin pants in the city, nevertheless if you happen to travel deeper in the state toward smaller towns and villages, you shall think better of what to wear there as the population won't be of the same opinion about short/open clothes as you are. Same applies to visiting of temples and other holy places (like Golden Temple in Amritsar for ex.) where I guess it is understood you wear decent clothing items and also a headscarf/kerchief. In Sikh temples "gurudwara" it concerns males likewise.
I see that girls in the city becoming more and more brave and nowadays you can see females in shorts and skirts here and there. But that doesn't mean that people around are okay and favor that. In my previous office even woman used to look at my "naked" ankles. Yes, it depends on where you work too, my new office has no objection of female employees dressing up in feminine clothing items. But I in my turn now feel more comfortable in pants or trousers.
☼ What to wear in India - Essential Information for Women - a short article as a travel guide.
☼ Modesty of Dress and Indian Culture - an article by The Hindu newspaper. Yes, why should boys have all the fun?
I also understand that such places as Goa allow for almost any type of clothing BUT it is an exception and another story similarly like metro cities Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore created their own world within themselves though at the same time belonging to a particular state.
On weekend me and D watched a German movie "The White Masai" on one of the TV channels. Have you seen it? Do watch it if you haven't, and see how sometimes even love cannot promise successful intercultural marriage.☀