One time-tested tradition that hasn't changed in Chennai is that when you go to someone's house, you always walk away with a blouse bit. About 15-20 years ago, this was actually a good thing. I've seen my mom stitch blouses from all the various pieces she got from neighbors, relatives and friends. Sarees were simple back then, didn't have "attached" blouse material, colors were straight forward and blouse pieces were always of the 2x2 variety. Everyone was happy.
Fast forward to 2010 and there's a mind-boggling variety of saris and blouse materials. Most saris have the blouse material attached and women are picky about their blouse materials, colors etc..So, when you get a blouse piece as a gift from someone, most women don't know what to do with it. They've got blouses for all their saris. What do we do?
So, we recycle, re-gift and evolve gifting blouse materials into a fine art form..:) I realized the Great Hierarchy of Gifting Blouse Material during the last India trip. I was asked to go fetch a material to gift a visiting mami. I rummaged through the cupboard and picked whichever one came to hand. Big mistake. That's when I received the lecture of how "it is done". You see, there are hierarchies -- silk cotton for people you like, pure silk for people you don't really like but there's no other way out, regular cotton for people of no importance, 2x2 for someone you like well enough, fancy blouse bits with embroidery and mirror work for youngsters and so on…Oh, and you can't re-gift a material that someone might recognize as having been given at another house etc..
Anyway, I tried refusing blouse pieces at a couple of houses I visited. I said I had no use for them in the US. Who would stitch them for me there? And I didn't have time to get it stitched in India. This argument, most often, is met with glares and annoyance. So, I meekly started gathering a pile of these things and silently handed it over to my mom for safe, hierarchical re-gifting..:)