7 Must-have Sarees from India – A love affair with the traditional weaves
What is most striking about the Indian traditional ceremonies and weddings? Well, apart from the rich culture, merriment and wondrous feasts, it definitely has to be all the beautiful women, decked up in gorgeous Indian ensembles, especially the evergreen, classy saris. Although merely 6 yards of flat fabric, a saree transforms to one of the most elegant and stunning attires, once it is draped and carried well. It flatters and accentuates the feminine curves and bodies of all types – and it lets a woman flaunt her unique personality.
No wonder, Sarees are inherent to the Indian woman’s DNA – wherever she may be from, or whatever her preferences and lifestyle may be. Probably that’s why – almost every Indian state or region has its own special sari and weave. South India, Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat have contributed to the vast tapestry of beautiful Indian handloom sarees. South Indian saris are specially known for their bright colours and gorgeous motifs, while saris from Bengal are renowned for their ingenious weaves. Each sari is the representation of a unique culture of its origin or the region, where it is made or is popularly worn. Although, the list practically is endless, when it comes to the maddening sari variety – but here we enlist 7 rare and graceful beauties, which you must have in your wardrobe –
- Dhakai/ Jamdani Sarees
As you can gauge from the name, Dhakai is a type of sari, whose weave originated in the city of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. When the Hindu weavers migrated from Dhaka (erstwhile East Bengal) to present day Bengal, they brought this weaving technique here. Also known as Dhakai Jamdani or Jamdani saree, it is considered by many to be one of the finest varieties of the hand-woven muslin. This art of weaving reached its pinnacle under the Mughal patronage. The name Jamdani is of Persian origin. It is an amalgamation of two words “Jam” meaning flower and “Dani” meaning vase. These sarees got this nomenclature due to the beautiful floral motifs which are woven on Jamdani sarees. The original fabric of Dhakai saree or Jamdani saree fabric is unbleached cotton yarn, while the designs are woveninto this fabric with bleached cotton yarns, which gives these sarees a unique light-and-dark effect. In earlier times, Jamdani saris in bright colours were the most famous ones. However, recently the most prevailing trend in saris is the self-coloured style. Half and half saris with only Jamdani pallus are also quite in vogue.
Wear It – to work, special meetings and day events, a kitty party or a ladies soiree – and even a special date. Jamdanis are generally devoid of metallic ostentation, and in that they are quite the epitome of subtle elegance and genteel grace. Since many of them are sheer, they possess a sensuous appeal and are perfect for day-wear.
Fun Fact – The weavers of Bengal are known to be most ingenious and hard-working. Probably, that is why the weaves from Bengal have a surreal charm. Know about some special Sarees from Bengal.
- Uppada Sarees
Uppada sarees are the new-age Jamdanis – with a Southern India’s special touch of gold and Kanjeevaram style borders. Brought to life in Uppada, a beach town from Andhra Pradesh, these sarees are gorgeous and have the same charm and grace as the original Jamdani sarees – yet they now also have their special distinctness. These finesarees are known for their colours and patterns, supple texture and designs. While most Jamdanis are cotton or muslin based, many Uppaddas are now made in silk yarn. Weavers create elaborate patterns in the Jamdani weaving style with silver and gold zari thread work. One among the most labourintensive, painstaking weaves, this one surely will add a new dimension to your collection.
Wear It – Day functions, events, when you are meeting other saree enthusiasts, pre-wedding functions, summer-time weddings and occasions, Raksha Bandhan. A lot of variety is available in this lovely weave, so you can choose from light, plain ones to ones with subtle borders and also those with stunning gold/ silver zari motifs.
- Paithani Sarees
Paithani is a marvellous hand woven silk saree characterised by its rich woven borders. With an exquisite and ornamental Zari (gold thread) Pallav (Pallu) and a border characterised by bright colours, it definitely is the go-to saree for special and festive occassions. These sarees have distinct sloping or oblique borders, and generally have peacock, flower and vine designs on the Pallav. Buddhist paintings have also influenced many of the designs in these heritage waeves from Maharashtra. The Mughal tradition also seems to have an imprint on the Paithani sarees, which is visible in the form of bird motifs such as the pheasant, peacocks, parrots etc. – and the floral and vine motifs. What makes the Paithani particularly enticing is the confluence of vibrant colors, unique designs and the richness of the fabric! These are extremely expensive drapes, and are favoured by Maharashtrian brides as their wedding sarees.
Wear It – Wedding in the family or a housewarming party for your new house or Diwali party, these sais can be a perfect pick for traditional events, where you want to put your best foot forward. Also these being quintessential bridal sarees, they should definitely form a part of a wedding trousseau.
- Tussar Silk Sarees
Tussar silk is primarily a wild silk, produced in the Eastern states of India. The Tussar silk sarees are also known by their Sanskrit name, Kosa. The Tussar silk saris, owing to the different silk worms that produce the silk, are more textured than the ones made in mulberry silk. Their porous fabric also makes them more breathable and comfortable, and thus tussars are considered to be all weather drapes. They have a natural golden sheen, and are ideal for various occasions. Though its natural colours are in various shades of cream or beige, it can also be dyed in vibrant colours. The traditional Tussar silk saris are known for their golden undertones, where the body is in its original coloring, while there are coloured pallavs and borders, embroidery like kantha, or hand painted madhubani paintings or floral motifs across the body. Since tussar is a wild silk, produced from a variety of silk moths (not domesticated), it is lower in cost than mulberry silks. The elegance of these saris combined with their affordability makes them even more popular.
Wear it – Porous and breathable tussar fabric makes for a comfortable wear, especially in the warm weather. The lighter ones are great choices for office-wear and corporate-wear, ones with eclectic prints or patterns are perfect for a ladies day out, kitty parties or day-functions. Heavier tussars are ideal for weddings, pre-wedding functions and festivals.
Fun fact – Apart from tussar, Indian also produces few other types of silks from moths that are not domesticated. These are known as wild silks – some also call them Ahimsa silks. But, there is so much more to this enchanting world – and you can know all about it HERE.
- Kalamkari Sarees
Kalamkari is an Indian art, which is said to have originated more than 3000 years ago. Deriving its name from the Persian word Kalam (Pen) and Kari (work), the Kalamkari art involves hand painting with the use of a pointed bamboo or date palm stick. This traditional hand painting is done on cotton as well as silk fabrics, using natural dyes. Many Kalamkari sarees are also made by a traditional block printing process, where they go through as many as twenty or more stages. This once-dying art has been given a fresh lease of life with many new-age designers using it and Bollywood celebrities flaunting it. These hand drawn designs definitely add an old world charm to much loved silk handloom saris. The exquisite story boards depicted on the saris – sometimes from mythology, sometimes from classical dances -are sure to catch the attention of connoisseurs.
Know This – Like Kalamkari, there are many other indigenous dyeing and printing techniques in India – which form the colourful, eclectic landscape of hand-made prints and patterns. Read about 10 stunning Indian printing and dyeing techniques.
Wear it – The beautiful intricate paintings-like appeal gives these saris a unique edge. They don’t have much ostentation or drama – and still they are eye-catchers in a big way. The plain, simple ones make for perfect day-wear drapes, and are great for office and corporate wear as well as for light functions (especially when paired with a dressy blouse). The bright and slightly ornate ones are good enough to be worn for festivals and functions. These saris are excellent choices, if you want to flaunt a modish, Indie-chic look.
- Kanjeevaram Sarees
Any discussion on traditional sarees is actually incomplete without the mention of these one of the most well-known South Indian saris. You guessed it right; we are talking about the majestic Kanjeevaram or Kancheepuram sarees. Kanjivarams derive their name from the small temple town called Kanchipuram, located 80 kms away from Chennai. Loved universally for their soft silk base, amazing weaves and exquisite colours, they are specifically known for the simple Zari work, showcasing traditional motifs like flowers, peacocks, horses, parrots, elephants, etc. Some of these sarees also have motifs depicting the scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and traditional temples. Heavy, ornate and ostentatious Kancheepuram silks are as famous as the simpler, multi-hued, classic temple border or check-design saris.
Did you know? – Southern India accounts for the maximum amount of silk production in India, and probably, it can also be credited for producing the maximum variety of weaves and types of saris. Read about the South Indian Sarees here.
Wear it – to weddings, traditional functions, celebrations or anywhere, depending upon the style and design you choose. These saris can be your best friend, whenever you want to go for rich traditional wear – you can choose plain Kanjivaram saris or go for heavy borders and pallus, with woven motifs. These are also favoured by brides all over the country, and are a must add to your wardrobe. Generally known for silks, Kanjeevarams are also made in cotton, and make for excellent work and day parties wear in cottons and cotton-silk ones.
- Banarasi Silk Sarees
Banaras or Varanasi is an ancient and one among the richest weaving centres of India. The Banarasi silk sarees with their rich embossed effect (brocade), fine silk fabric and opulence are also often one of the heaviest saris in the Indian women’s wardrobes. They are characterized by heavy brocading or metallic zari on borders and pallavs, and are often donned by North Indian brides. You can know all about grand Banarasi in this detailed article from here.
Wear it- These heavy and rich saris are a perfect choice for weddings, be it yours or a close friend’s or relative’s. They are also the apt wear for traditional celebrations and festivals like Diwali and Raksha Bandhan. Many also prefer to give these classy and evergreen drapes as wedding gifts and as gifts to special relations.
All in all, the Sarees are integral to an Indian wardrobe. They are the quintessential Indian female ensemble that truly adds to the beauty of women. They have been around for ages, and can never really go out of vogue. You may choose to embrace this versatile outfit in its traditional glory, or give it a contemporary twist. And, now that you know that you are really spoilt for choice with innumerable weaves and designs, grab your favourite one and flaunt your uber feminine side.