INDIAN WOMEN AND THEIR LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE “SAREE”
by Renu Choundhary
What is it about the saree, a 6 – 8 yard piece of un-stiched cloth which invokes visions of elegance, sensuality, allure and personification of ultimate grace?
Saree down the ages..
History of the Indian Saree is over 5000 years old! The oldest form of garment in the world, which is still in existence. Rig Vedas – among the oldest literature composed by mankind mention it and records from the Indus Valley Civilization also indicate it existence.
The love affair that Indian women have with the Saree has continued down the ages. Numerous Goddess, Aprsaras and Consorts which grace thousands of temples across the country are draped in this timless, classic piece of garment.
Renowned scluptors, painters have made fabulous paintings, stone sculptures, wall paintings which have immortialised this stunning garment for posterity.
One of India’s iconic 18th century painter, Raja Ravi Varma’s artistic vision brought to life mythological figures of Hindu gods and goddesses wearing a Saree.
His groundbreaking and breathtaking painting of goddess Laxmi in a Saree as it is worn today graces temples and various places of worship in people’s homes across the Indian sub-continent.
This ancient piece of garment has in no way impacted its popularity. Still ubiquitous, on ramps at leading fashion shows, in Bollywood, on streets of rural and urban India. Women of all ages cutting across all social strata, the saree is as firmly entrenched in the cultural fabric of the country as it was eons ago.
The Saree, with its allure, sensuality …what was a traditional piece of garment has taken on a whole new, contemporary and sexy avatar in the 21st century India.
The unstitched single piece of cloth evolved due to ancient Hindu belief that stitching cloth made it impure. And so the four-and-a-half to eight meters of cloth – draped around the lower body and then with a tactful pleating process folded across the upper body – came to be appropriate attire.
The saree is considered to have been evolved from a three-piece-attire consisting of unstitched stretches of cloth draped as a lower garment, a chest band and a piece worn over ones shoulder or head. The Saree is an unstitched length of cloth measuring 42 – 49″ wide and 5.5 to 9 yards in length. Ornamental borders and a matching end piece, called the pallu or
- The Saree is an unstitched length of cloth measuring 42 – 49″ wide and 5.5 to 9 yards in length. Ornamental borders and a matching end piece, called the pallu or anchal surround the field of the sari, which can also be either richly ornamented or plain.
- Saree often come with a matching piece of cloth for the “Choli”, or a tight fitting cropped blouse, either woven on the end or the begining of the sari, or on a separate piece altogether.
- Some ultra transparent sarees come with a piece of denser cloth dyed or embellished to match. This piece is usually about 3/4 to 1 meter long. The borders are used for the sleeves and back hem of the choli.
- The stunning variety of colors, patterns, textiles weaves and draping styles make Saree one of the world’s most fascinating traditional attire.
- Currently hundreds of regional weaving centers which are still engaged in traditional handloom production of this fascinating piece of garment.
- Since, weving a Saree is traditional and a heritage craft, the intricate art of designing and weaving the entire garment is passed on from one generation to the next, to perserve the precious legacy.
- Today in India, six and a half milion people are engaged in the production of Handloom Sarees.
- 18 traditional Handloom weaving styles have been accorded the prestigious GI tag. Some of these incredibly beautifully Saree weaves are Banarsi Brocade, Mysore slik, Kanchipuram, Venkatgiri to name a few.
Indian women look the most beautiful when they wear a Saree…
I guess I am rather biased when I make this tall claim, however, no one can wear a garment with so much grace and finesse than a Indian women.
But at some point, when an Indian woman wears a Saree, the way it is draped, it reveals, yet conceals and still comes across as immensely classy and tasteful.
Most women would like to be perceived as mysterious and a symbol of sensuality and in my opinion this one piece of classic garment manages to pull that off with so much elan!
Being able to turn a man on without trying too hard. Yet managing to stay within the unspoken norms of chaste behavior.
Many, many adjectives come to mind…head-turner, enticing, perfect to flaunt those full curves, ‘Oomph’ factor, potent mixture of poise and grace. You can never, ever go wrong with the Saree!!
I’m pretty sure that this is something that women from other cultures also try to accentuate and succeed in varying degrees.
Maharani Gayatri Devi reinvented the royal style in the House of Jaipur. She epitomized classic fashion and inimitable personal style and bought a rare glamour to a very traditional attire – ‘the quenstissential Saree’.
Gayatri Devi, the last Maharani before the princely states were abolished during India’s independence in 1947, left behind an incredible image of the life and times of Indian royalty.
Her love affair with French Chiffon was inspired by her mother’s elegant and impeccable style. While
Chiffon is now commonly used to make Sarees in India, Indira Devi of Cooch Behar (Maharani Gayatri’s mother) was the first to realise the potential to adapt the chiffon fabric to the traditional garment while shopping in Paris in the late 30s.
The sensous draping of chiffon Saree to create a dreamy, romantic look ultimately became Maharani Gayatri Devi’s classic style and triggered trends and become a source of inspiration for many, many women.
Throughout her life she personified grace and dignity and was seen effortlessly in soft pastel shades of chiffon with her trademark pearls.
One of the most iconic and stylish images of her was when she welcomed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to India wearing one of her classic printed chiffon sarees and double string of pearls.
This trend setting image was captured forever in Life Magazine and showed the two women elegantly dressed with matching double strand pearl necklace.
Vogue magazine in the early 60s listed her as 10 most beautiful women in the world.
Today she is remembered for her intellect as much as for her beauty and style.