The saree, 9 yards of glorious history and tradition, has been a staple in every Indian woman’s wardrobe for centuries. From everyday wear to something she puts on for special occasions, the designer saree is her identity and heritage.
Her love for sarees comes from her ancestors and the women in her life. It is not uncommon for a young girl to receive a designer saree from her dadi, aunt or mother as a sort of rite of passage. Some sarees are even considered heirlooms as they’ve been in the family for generations. In addition to stunning colors, designs and embroidery work, these designer sarees come wrapped in stories and family history that are almost more resplendent than the actual sarees themselves. So great is the Indian woman’s love for sarees that when the cloth wears out or tears or stains, she’ll convert the saree into a salwar or dupatta or cushion cover… the possibilities are endless.
The word sari or saree is derived from the Sanskrit word, शाटी or sati, meaning 'strip of cloth'. The word is found in ancient Sanskrit texts and its history can be traced to the Indus Valley civilization, around 2800 BC. The traditional form of the saree was made up of three distinct parts; the Antriya or the lower garment, the Uttariya or a veil worn over the shoulder or the head, and the Stanapatta or a chest band. While designer sarees have gotten with the times, its structure remains unchanged for centuries. There are also over 100 ways of wearing a saree that is known. These vary across states, communities, and religions.
Here are some of the variations of wearing a designer saree.
The atpoure shari is a traditional Bengali saree that is white with a red border. The box pleats come in the front while the pallu falls on both shoulders.
The nauvari is a nine-yard saree that is draped in a dhoti-style where the pleats are pulled through the legs and tucked at the back.
Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Odisha:
The seedha pallu is worn even today by the women in these areas. The distinct part of this style is that the pallu comes from back to front, much like a dupatta.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh:
The nivi has inspired the modern saree.
The kappulu is another style from the region and is worn by the older generations. This style of saree wraps from left to right. It also has narrow pleats at the back and the pallu hangs over the right shoulder lose or wrapped around the neck.
The mekhela chador is made up of two parts: the bottom part is worn like a sarong with crisscross pleats in front while the second part is tucked around the waist and draped over the left shoulder.
Watch here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJKjzMjGnBQ
The pinkosu is best suited for hot weather. The word pinkosu means ‘pleats at the back’. The saree is wrapped around the waist one and a half times and the inner side of the saree is sometimes visible. That’s why handloom cotton sarees are preferred as they are reversible.
The madisaru is worn by the Iyengar and Iyer community in Tamil Nadu. It was a tradition for a woman to wear this type of saree after her marriage.
The Halakki Vokkaliga tribe of Karnataka live at the base of the Western Ghats. The women of the tribe wear their sarees in a particular manner—tied around the neck and wrapped around their bodies like a sarong, making a blouse or underskirt unnecessary.
The Coorgi style of wearing a saree is distinct. To help women climb the hilly slopes of Coorg, the saree has pleats at the back and the pallu is brought from the back over both shoulders and secured on the right shoulder with a knot.
the Kunbi style of wearing a saree is followed by the tribal women of Goa. It is wrapped around the waist and simply knotted on the right shoulder. It is calf-length allowing women ease of movement when working in their rice fields.
These are just some of the many styles that exist in a large, diverse country. Each style is unique and specific to the weather of the region and the work that the women of the region engage in. Yet, each is beautiful in its way, a stunning representation of the power of the women who wear it. For more information on how to drape specific sarees, take a look at these videos.