Sarees are the cultural representations of India on the global scene. The nine yards of opulence is equivalent to the traditions, culture, and heritage of multiple states of India. It is one of those words that come to your mind when you say India! It is not only the unique handloom trademark to the world of sarees that each state brings about to the world of saree but also the unique way of draping.
From Mekhela to Nauvari and from Kotapad to Santhal Pargana, the pleats of saree bind the country together without interrupting the greatness of the saree! Every cataclysmic change has resulted in its distinctiveness and exclusivity. Here, we bring you the lowdown of different draping styles from different states of India- from right to left and center! Each draping style is designed to suit local needs and conditions.
Assam Mekhela Chador
Mekhela is essentially is a sarong or skirt with pleats in the front. The dupatta or pallu is worn separately and is called Riha or chadar. The chadar features a criss-cross pleated form tucked to the left side of the waist and thrown over the shoulder in the front.
The urban and rich community wears saree in an equally opulent manner. The inner end of saree is wrapped anti-clockwise around the waist and tucked into the petticoat at the right side. The pallu is loose-ended, pressed into the waist from left side. Like a Gujarati saree, it is a seedha pallu ki saree.
The unusual draping of Maharashtriyan saree aids to the active and independent lifestyle of Marathi women. The saree is worn without a petticoat or shorts underneath and looks like a trouser, though with immense grace and elegance. The saree is worn by Marathi women on festivals like ‘Gudi Padwa’ and ‘Sankranti.’ This saree accentuates feminine curve while offering immense freedom, without the challenge of managing the pleats.
This Karnataka style drape is unique and quite famous for its non-interrupting style. Since the local conditions demand them to walk uphill and climb trees, this draping style lets them be! The origin of the saree can be traced back to ancient times. It is believed that Sage Agastya tried to stop her wife Kauveri from turning into a river. While he was forcing her to stay back, the pleats of her saree were pushed to the back. To pay her homage and show respect for her sacrifice, women in Koorg started wearing sarees in Kodagu style. It is usually paired with a full-sleeve blouse but over the time, the neckline and fabric of the saree have been experimented with a lot. Brides usually wear red-gold silk Kanjivaram saree and a head veil. This saree style, however, is only limited to marriages and religious functions these days.
Yet again the opulent and classy Parsi delight! This elegant saree is the traditional Parsi outfit. Parsi women prefer lightweight fabric such as chiffon, linen and georgette saree as ‘gara.’ The pallu is drawn from behind to keep it loosely hanging over the left shoulder. The pleats of the pallu are spread out in the front for demonstrating the intricate work.
The Namboothiri is perhaps the oldest South Indian draping style to wear Kerala saree. It is rarely worn these days and reserved only for special religious ceremonies and functions in Kerala. This kind of saree draping is very conservative and covers only the lower part – like a skirt. There is no concept of pallu to cover the upper region.
Athpourey shari from Bengal
One of the most famous of the sarees has box pleats in the front. The pallu is pleated and falls on the right shoulder. Traditionally, the most important lady in the household would tie keys to the pallu. The traditional Bengali wedding would see brides in red and white ethnic Bengali saree.
Madisaru Tamil Nadu
Iyer community in Tamil Nadu used to wear Madisaru style saree, which was a dhoti-meets-saree combination. This saree was worn to honor ‘ardh-naaree’ avatar of Lord Shiva. The upper half would resemble a saree whereas the lower half used to look like a dhoti.
Women of Chhattisgarh’s tribal community drape saree in Surguja style. This saree draping style doesn’t have any pleats and just like the local conditions would demand it, is quite simple and makes for a matter-of-fact presentation. The Surguja saree gives women the much-needed freedom to perform the daily chores. It is worn above the knees so that women can walk and do the routine activities with much ease.
Seedha Pallu Saree
Women in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha drape seedha pallu saree. While the saree gives them the freedom of a skirt and blouse aka lehenga and choli, the pallu works as a dupatta. Since the women cover their heads in Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, a seedha pallu saree makes it easier for them. The sarees prevalent in these regions have extensive work on the pallu as it falls directly on the shoulder. However, extensive work on pallu isn’t a feasible idea as the shoulder would have to carry the most of it, which makes saree draping a cumbersome affair.
The way you, your mother and grandmother has been wearing a saree is the Nivi style. It was originated in Andhra Pradesh but it is now the widely accepted and most popular saree draping style! Over the time, the saree has seen itself go over numerous makeovers and cascades of local events. The conditioning has only made this saree style better!
A saree is a beautiful outfit, an amalgam of tradition and modern sensibilities. An outfit should aid you in a day-to-day lifestyle and not hold you back. The design tweaks and local adaptations have only made it better and versatile. Folks, do tell us would you like to try different saree styles? Which saree style from the different states of India do you like better?