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Saree! An Ode To Ethnicity

Indian culture and heritage are as astounding as it is mysterious. It has evolved over many millennia. This evolution imparts it the richness that sets it apart from other cultures. Indian culture and tradition flourished before the first foundation stones for the first pyramid were placed in ancient Egypt. Facts suggest that people in India were very advanced in all subjects. Ancient Indian men and women played vital roles in the development of the then society. Apart from trade, science, art, and literature, ancient Indians had much knowledge about the textile industry. They knew how to extract cotton from the pods and make threads out of it. They were aware of the technicalities of extracting silk from silkworms. Kings and royals only covered their body with the best silk, while commoners used cotton for meeting their clothing requirements. Time changes everything, but it has failed to topple the India traditional dress the saree from its position.

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What is a saree?

A saree is a long piece of cloth that is skillfully draped around the body of a woman. The piece of rectangular cloth can measure anything between 5 and 9 meters. There are several ways of draping the saree. The main objective of this dress is to cover the entire female body tastefully. However, the draping hugs the female figure in the right places, showing off the feminine curves. India women had to follow strict codes of conduct, both inside as well as outside the home. So, they had to dress in a respectfully. Showing off too much skin was a strict “no! no!” in upper and middle classes. Thus, saree was the only dress that did the job perfectly.

Abundant options to choose from

Each region in India has its own signature textile. The best thing about the saree is, it can be made with any textile thread. Natural as well as artificial fabric threads can be woven together to create these amazing pieces. On top of this, the intricate handcrafted designs make these sarees exclusive and priceless. It is time to shed some light on some of the popular types of sarees, available in India.

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West-Indian sarees

The craftsmen of this area are good with colors. The weather conditions are ideal for dyeing fabrics. The craftsmen tie fabrics and dip them in ink. After the threads are cut open, elaborate dotted patterns appear on the fabric. It is known as “bandhani” work. This work is possible on all fabrics. Ajrak and kasish are two other dyeing techniques, where they make use of vegetable ink. Chunarpatri is another favorite coloring technique.

North-Indian sarees

North-Indian saree collection will not be complete if you do not have a Banarasi saree in your possession. This soft silk saree, with heavy thread and minakari work, is popular during weddings. In fact, a marriage will not be complete without these sarees. The bride drapes this saree around her body, along with heavy jewelry. North Indian cotton, jute, and silk sarees are popular all over the world.

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South-Indian sarees

Kanjeevwaram, Crepe silk, and Mysore Silk are must-haves in your wardrobe if you have a fondness towards south-India silk. The south India states produce high-quality silk, which is colored and woven together to form the base material. South Indian cotton sarees, especially Chettinad Cotton is a must during south Indian weddings and religious occasions. Other heavy silk sarees are decorated with thread or zari work. Pure south Indian silk sarees are very costly, but when you wear it, you will look like a million dollars.

East-Indian sarees

West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, and Manipur are known for their superior needlework. The quality of silk produced in Assam is also fantastic. Baluchari, Kantha stitch, and batik are some favorite saree designs, which are revered in all parts of the world. Jute and Tasar are two other rich textile materials, which are popular in the Indian fashion sector as well.

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Is saree equally popular these days?

Change in time has paved ways for western ideas to percolate in the Indian society as well. Now a day, more and more women are showing a greater inclination towards western outfits. Jeans, shirts, skirts, capris, and palazzos have occupied significant space in their wardrobes. These modern garments are easily manageable. Today women need to manage the house as well her profession. Time is scarce, and she has a lot on her plate. Spending too much time on draping a 9-meter cloth on a daily basis seems unnecessary. These modern dresses have replaced sarees to some extent. But when it is time to shine amidst the crowd or take part in a traditional Indian occasion, sarees always triumph over other attires. Thus, one can say that the popularity of saree is still high, but its use in urban Indian society, on a daily basis, has gone down.

Globalization has opened new avenues for fashion conscious people. Modern marketing and import-export techniques have changed the face of fashion. Youngsters are keen on trying out western designs. Short pants, gowns, and knee-length dresses are aplenty in the Indian market. Still, the traditional saree has maintained its supremacy over all other forms of female attire. When it is time to take part in any conventional or religious Indian occasion, women reach out for the sarees, and not their western garments. With time, saree has also made heads turn n international fashion shows. Thus, it is safe to say that saree is here to stay for a long time.

About Rohit Shetty

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