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7 Must-have Sarees from India – A love affair with the traditional weaves

What is most striking about the Indian traditional ceremonies and weddings? 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, classic saris.

Although merely six yards of flat fabric, a saree transforms as 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 distinguished 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. Leheriya Sarees

Leheriya Sarees describe the traditional attire of Rajasthani women that stands apart with bright and distinctive patterns. Unlike heavy silk sarees from different regions of India, leheriya sarees are light in weight and adaptable for every age and season.

The globally famous leheriya is typically a zigzag or wavy pattern created with a traditional resist-dyeing technique over silk or cotton fabric. It is a popular detail for making sarees, turbans, and dupattas. These printed sarees are often edged with laces or heavy gota patti embroidery to make them apt for weddings and other festivities. Comparatively lower priced than most indigenous sarees, these drapes carry a timeless feel that makes them a much-loved component of sustainable fashion.

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. Woven with exquisite and ornamental Zari (gold thread) Pallav (Pallu) and borders characterized by bright colors, it is the go-to saree for special and festive occasions. These indigenous sarees have distinct sloping or oblique edges with peacock, flower, and vine designs on the Pallav. Buddhist paintings have also influenced many details 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 cultural 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 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 varied 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 multiple varieties 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 warm weather. The lighter ones are apt choices for office wear and corporate wear, and those 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. Bandhani Sarees

Bandhej is by far one of the most popular prints that bridge the gap between generations. Originating in the culture-rich states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, this ancient tie-and-dye print is a fine example of figurative artwork that goes well with classic to contemporary dress codes. The work Bandhani translates to a process of plucking fabric with fingernails and tying it to resist dyeing to get intricate details in multiple colors on the fabric.

Bandhej Sarees are usually made in silk, georgette, and cotton blends and are available in a wide range of colors. The traditional Gharchola saree worn by Gujarati brides also has Bandhani prints as an essential detail. You can invest in one of these heirloom-worthy pieces or add budgeted ones to your closet as sustainable outfits.

Wear it – The beautiful intricate dot-like designs give 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 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, distinguished weaves, and exquisite colors, they are specifically known for their simple Zari work, showcasing traditional motifs like flowers, peacocks, horses, parrots, and elephants, among many others. Some of these sarees also have motifs depicting scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, and traditional temples. Heavy, ornate, and ostentatious Kancheepuram silks are as famous as the simple, 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 can probably also get a rank for producing the maximum variety of weaves and types of saris.

Wear it to weddings, traditional functions, celebrations, or anywhere, depending upon the style and design of the saree. These saris can be your best friend whenever you want to flaunt rich traditional wear – you can choose plain Kanjivaram saris or go for heavy borders and pallus with woven motifs. These are popular among 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 most artistically rich weaving centers in the Indian subcontinent. The Banarasi silk sarees, with their rich embossed effect (brocade), refined silk fabric, and opulence, are also often one of the heaviest saris in Indian women’s wardrobes.

They have heavy brocading or metallic zari on borders and pallavs and are a favorite of North Indian brides.

Wear it– These heavy and rich saris are perfect for weddings, whether it’s yours or a close friends or relative’s nuptials. They are also apt for traditional celebrations and festivals like Diwali and Raksha Bandhan. Many also prefer to give these opulent and evergreen drapes as wedding gifts and as gifts to favorite relations.

All in all, Sarees are integral to an Indian wardrobe. They are the quintessential Indian female ensemble that immensely adds to the beauty of women. They have been around for ages and can never go out of vogue.

You may choose this versatile outfit in its traditional glory or give it a contemporary twist. And, now that you know that you are game for a sartorial treat with multiple weaves and designs, grab your favorite one and flaunt your uber-feminine side.

7. Patola Sarees

Patola Sarees– the indigenous double ikkat weave from Patan in Gujarat, has been a priceless outfit for centuries. With its royal elements and unmatched luxury, the Patola detail has taken printed versions in modern-day power loom sarees available in varying price ranges.

Patola patterns usually have colorful floral details and animal and bird motifs with geometrical outlines. Grids are also a pervasive detail in these vibrant, traditional saris. Patola Handloom Sarees are mostly made with pure silk fabric and are high priced, while the budgeted ones are available in a wide range of art silk and cotton silk fabrics.

Wear It to work, special meetings, daytime events, kitty parties, and soirees- these sarees are versatile. Patolas are generally devoid of heavy metallic ostentation and epitomize vibrancy. They are also excellent picks for formal wedding wear.

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