Beautiful Traditional Sarees for Pongal, Sankranti, Lohri & Bihu
Merry-making always sounds like an exciting idea! In a culturally diverse country like India, there’s an array of festivals lined up throughout the year. Harvest seasons are indeed occasions worth celebrating, especially for an agricultural economy. Thus, the winter harvest season, which falls around the middle of January, witnesses a roar of celebrations – myriad regional festivals – across the different regions of India. These festivals mark the successful completion of the winter harvest season. Astrologically, the Sun moves into the Makara / Capricorn zone, and these days mark an end to the winter chill and the onset of summery days. This yearly phenomenon is known as Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Pongal, and Bihu across different regions of India. These festivals, among others like Vishu, are celebrated with great eagerness by Indians across the globe.
Let us know more about diverse rituals and dress codes for different versions of the winter harvest fiesta –
Traditional Sarees for Harvest Festivals
This word means ‘spilling over’- because this occasion involves the ritual of boiling rice in a pot till it starts overflowing. Pongal – is one of the most important festivals for the southern states of India, especially Tamil Nadu. The festivities span over four-days and rightfully involve heavy feasting and socializing. Since this is the celebration of a good harvest and beginning of a sunny, auspicious time – people turn out in their new attires and meet their families and friends.
Silk sarees form the formal attire of women across the Southern states. The surrounding towns of Tamil Nadu are home to some of the finest silk weaving handlooms in the world. Kanchipuram silk sarees in bright colors and indulgent with rich golden zari forms are the prime festive attire – especially for the elite. Women, thus, can be seen decked up in rich Kanjeevaram saris, while girls can be seen in half sarees or pavadais made with Kanchi weaves. Women indulge in heavy garments with traditional gold jewelry and use real flowers for adorning their hair.
Many people end up spending a lot on festival preparations and outfits. However, if you don’t wish to indulge in a high-end real Kanchipuram, you settle for an art silk saree – or even a Kanchi cotton saree – perfectly dressy and budgeted versions for long days of festivities.
As enthusiastic as the south Indians, the North Indians have their way of ending the harvest season of their winter crop. Lohri, which falls on the 13th of January, is fondly celebrated by Sikhs and Punjabis across the globe. Devotees offer their prayers by going round a bonfire, followed by Bhangra and Giddha performances on energetic Punjabi beats!
Traditionally, the attire for Lohri comprises of salwar kameez, palazzo suits, and lehenga suits. But sarees are meant for all occasions, so you can conveniently turn up for a Lohri celebration wearing one, especially if you are a new bride or are attending the gala Lohri celebrations kept by a family with a new bride or new-born baby! Since the festive ritual involves going around the fire, it would be better to stick to fabrics that will keep you cool as well as safe. Pure silk sarees are somewhat flame-resistant, and so are cotton-silk blends. If you are going to a simple function, choose a Chanderi cotton silk saree, while for a grand celebration – pure Mysore silk is your best bet. You can also go for traditional handloom weaves like Patola and Pochampally for these evenings. This will be like South Indian art meeting the North Indian vibrancy!
Blending with the typical North Indian culture, you can sport a luxurious Banarasi silk saree with brocade weave. Metallic shimmer and dazzling details are an inherent part of this culture, so this is indeed the time to look your glorious best!
Comparatively less explored, the eastern region of India is home to a uniquely beautiful ethnicity. Bhogal Bihu- which begins on the 15th of January and lasts for 3 days is the feasting time for the people of Assam and neighboring states. It is an occasion that marks an end to weeks of fieldwork, winding up the last processes of harvest. While bonfires are an integral part of the cultural rituals, buffalo-fights, folk music with Dhol beats, and folk dance performances make the occasion more colorful, with, of course, socializing, and feasting that are imperatives for every Indian festival.
Mekhala and Chador- is the traditional Assamese attire for women; that resembles a saree. Mekhala is a straight-cut skirt-like garment, and Chador is a drape for the upper body. The ensemble is made with cotton and silk, and women wear this costume while performing folk dances.
One can pick a beige or soft golden saree with woven ethnic designs in red, maroon, or orange tones during these days. You can also add a trendy touch to your festive attire with a light or pastel art silk saree or stick to traditional handloom-woven Muga silk sarees- which are indigenous to the state of Assam.
The Kite-Flying Festival/ Uttaryan
In several states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan- Makar Sankranti is also known as the kite-flying festival, which officially falls on the 14th of January. Children, as well as adults, enthusiastically engage in kite-fights while the sky full of kites is a splendid sight! Most people tend to wear kurtas and western attire these days – to match steps with the busy vibe of the day. However, lighter sarees in georgettes and chiffons are a good idea too, especially if you are visiting friends or family.
This way, a single occasion has many amazing versions- each of them signifying the diverse richness of the Indian culture. No matter which part of the country you’re in, you can celebrate the winter harvest festival wearing a traditional Indian sari. Modest and modish to its core, a saree is undoubtedly congruous with every occasion!