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 has to be all the beautiful women, decked up in gorgeous Indian ensembles, especially the evergreen, classy saris.
Although merely six yards of flat fabric, a saree transforms to be one of the most elegant and stunning outfits for any occasion. It flatters and accentuates the feminine curves and bodies of all types and 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, and that explains why almost every Indian state or region has its special sari, draping style, and weave. South India, Bengal, Maharashtra, and Gujarat have contributed to the vast tapestry of beautiful Indian handloom sarees. South Indian saris carry the charm of bright colors and gorgeous motifs, while saris from Bengal stand out with their ingenious weaves.
Each sari represents a unique culture of its origin or region. Although the list practically is endless, we’ve picked these seven rare and graceful beauties, which, as a saree connoisseur, you must have in your traditional wedding wardrobe.
Must-have Sarees from India
1. 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 have the same charm and grace as the original Jamdani sarees –along with their special distinctness.
These fine sarees have appealing colors and patterns, supple texture, and intricate 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 of the most labor-intensive, painstaking weaves, this one will surely add a new dimension to your collection.
Wear It – Day functions, formal events, when you are meeting other saree enthusiasts, pre-wedding functions, summer-time weddings, and occasions like Raksha Bandhan. These drapes are available in varied palettes and details, so you can choose from light, plain versions to ones with subtle borders or stunning gold/ silver zari motifs.
2. Paithani Sarees
Paithani is a marvelous hand-woven silk saree characterized by its rich woven borders. With an exquisite and ornamental Zari (gold thread) Pallav (Pallu) and a border characterized by bright colors, it is the go-to saree for special and festive occasions. These sarees have distinct sloping or oblique borders, with usually peacock, flower, and vine designs on the Pallav. Buddhist paintings have also influenced many of the designs in these heritage weaves 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, and parrots with 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 a preference for Maharashtrian brides as their wedding sarees.
Wear It – For a wedding in the family or a housewarming party for your new house or Diwali party, these saris can be a perfect pick for traditional events, where you want to put your best foot forward. Also, these being quintessential bridal sarees, they are also a suitable choice for a wedding trousseau.
3. Tussar Silk Sarees
Tussar is primarily 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 silkworms that produce the silk, have more texture than the ones made in mulberry silk.
Their porous fabric also makes them more breathable and comfortable, and thus tussar sarees are thus all-weather drapes. They have a natural golden sheen and are ideal for various occasions. Though its natural colors are in various shades of cream or beige, the drapes are also available in vibrant colors.
The traditional Tussar silk saris are known for their golden undertones, where the body is in its original coloring, while there are colorful pallavs and borders, embroideries like Kantha, or hand-painted Madhubani paintings or floral motifs across the body. Since tussar is wild silk, produced from a variety of silk moths, 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 make for 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 forms of tussar are ideal for weddings, pre-wedding functions, and festivals.
Fun fact – Apart from tussar, India also produces a few other types of silks from the natural growth of moths and cocoons. These are known as wild silks – some also call them Ahimsa silks.
4. Kalamkari Sarees
The Kalamkari is a form of 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.
over 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 add an old-world charm to silk handloom saris. The exquisite storyboards 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 colorful, eclectic landscape of hand-made prints and patterns.
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 the 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 for festivals and functions. These saris are excellent choices if you want to flaunt a modish, Indie-chic look.
5. Kanjeevaram Sarees
Any discussion on traditional sarees is incomplete without the mention of one of the most well-known South Indian saris. We are talking about the majestic Kanjeevaram or Kancheepuram sarees. Kanjivarams derive their name from the small temple town called Kanchipuram, located eighty km away from Chennai.
Loved universally for their soft silk base, amazing weaves, and exquisite colors, 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 get a rank 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 favored 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 cotton and cotton-silk ones.
6. Banarasi Sarees
Banaras or Varanasi is an ancient and one of the richest weaving centers 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 have heavy brocading or metallic zari on borders and pallavs and a favorite of 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 nuptials. They are also apt 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 spoilt for choice with innumerable weaves and designs, grab your favorite one and flaunt your uber-feminine side.
7. 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 woven on Jamdani sarees.
The original fabric of the Dhakai saree or Jamdani saree is a natural color cotton yarn, while the designs are woven into this fabric with bleached cotton yarns, giving them a unique light-and-dark effect. In earlier times, Jamdani saris in bright colors were a trend however, these days, pastels and lighter tones have also turned into palette preferences. Half and half saris with statement Jamdani pallus are also quite in vogue.
Wear It to work, special meetings, daytime events, kitty parties, and soirees- these sarees are quite versatile. Jamdanis are generally devoid of metallic ostentation and epitomize elegance. Since many of them are sheer, they possess a sensuous appeal and are perfect for day-wear.
Fun Fact – The weavers of Bengal are considered most ingenious and hard-working. Probably, that is why the weaves from Bengal have a surreal charm.