Oh Saree - What a Wrap !

Staying in diversely rich Silicon Valley/Bay area, it is not unusual to find a lady wearing the traditional costume of India - saree.

Westerners are often intrigued by the demure floor length garment with the tantalizing display of the midriff. Saree is simply a very unique garment which covers all, yet reveals all!!!

Assam style

Madrasi style sari

Gujarati style

Bengali style

Assam style: This sari consists of two parts called as mekhela-chadoer.

Madrasi style: This traditional style of draping nine yards of fabric is usually worn for weddings and religious occasions in the southern part of India.

Gujarati style: Here the pallu is draped in front rather than over the shoulder.

Bengali style: This style has no pleats and is elegantly draped around the body.

Coorgi style

Maharastrian nauvari style

Nivi style

Coorgi style: An interesting variation is that the pleats are in the rear, instead of the front, and a small section of the pallu comes over the shoulder.

Maharastrian nauvari style: This classical style has nine yards of fabric worn in traditional manner in the western state of India.

Nivi style: This style of sari draping is extremely popular in India and is worn by a majority of Indian ladies.

(click each image for a larger view)

Saree is an Indian women’s statement to the world. What is a typical saree like??? The saree can be a shimmering silk, or fine cotton or an elegant chiffon material. It can have the most intricate embroidery with silk threads or even silver and gold threads. The colors can be vibrantly bright or subdued pastels. There are sarees to match every mood and every occassion to suit every budget.

There are many folklores about how saree were created..

One such story goes … saree was born on the looms of a weaver, he dreamt about women - the shimmer of the tears, the drape of the tumbling long hair, the colors of the many moods, the soft touch and he kept weaving yards of fabric. As he finished he smiled and smiled and smiled … Indian civilization has placed a tremendous importance on unstitched fabric. The belief is unstitched fabric is pure.

Saree is a rectangular piece of unstitched fabric which is draped in a very fascinating manner. The length of the this fabric is.. 6 yards ( 5 meters) long. This is a one piece of clothing which fits all.. fat or thin short or tall!!! The traditional 6 yard saree allows for generous pleating, and draping around the body and over the shoulders almost Grecian in style. The loose end of the fabric, which is thrown over the left shoulder, is known as ‘Pallu’. Pallu usually has extensive design or embroidery woven into it. There is a petticoat , or a slip, which is worn under the saree which holds the saree in place.Along with the saree is a blouse, which unattached to it. The blouse is a tight fitting item of clothing, and adds a fashion statement to the saree. The sleeve length of the blouse is dictated by the hottest Indian film stars. The sleeve length travels from full sleeves to half sleeves to sleeveless over a period of time. Saree is very flattering to all shapes and sizes and forgiving of the various flaws. It can ingeniously conceal the extra flab of fat, or it can accentuate the well proportioned curve -- It is just a matter of how you drape the saree. This garment is in style for over 5000 years for the simple reason of its simplicity and practical usage.

This demure garment is a very versatile garment too. The pallu has a very multi-purpose use to it. In case of slight chill in the air, put it around the shoulder like a shawl, if it gets very cold wrap it around the head like a scarf. The saree is so practical to wear that you can even run a marathon in it with out any problem

Different parts of India have different styles of draping the saree.

In western state of Gujarat the pallu comes over the right hand and the whole pallu is draped in front rather than behind the left shoulder. In southern state of Kerala, the way the saree is draped resembles an African attire. In the state of Maharashtra the traditional saree is nine yard long. This saree does not require a petticoat or slip, and is more like a pant with the saree accentuating the derriere. Different parts of the country also prefer certain texture of saree . This preference is mainly due to the weather and availability of the fabric in that region. In South silk sarees reign supreme. Cotton sarees on the other hand are very popular in Bengal and Maharastra. For weddings and special occasions silk sarees are the norm. Typically the wedding sarees have gold (gold is pounded very thin and made into threads) woven into them.

This is the only garment in feminine apparels which has stayed ‘In Fashion’ for 5000 years. Why? you wonder.. It is after all, only 6 yards of unstitched material, but look what it can do to any woman --- Make her look even better!!!