From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the one garment that seems to bind the entire country together in its folds is the saree. The draping may differ from region to region but the charm and beauty of this unstitched, six-yard fabric remains unmatched. With the wedding season round the corner, let’s take a look at some of the most popular sarees of India that brides would love to make part of their collection.
A delight to touch, these silken drapes are a specialty of a small town near Bengaluru called Kanchi (Kanchipuram). No buyer can resist being dazzled by the softness of the fine silk thread used for weaving and the bright colour schemes and designs like wide temple borders, bold multi-hued checks, stripes and floral designs. Connoisseurs will tell you that most of the patterns and take inspiration from South Indian temples and nature.
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Each and every saree of Varanasi’s (or Benaras, as the city is also called) craftsmen is a work of art. Known for their opulent weaves, embroidery and designs in gold and silver, Banarasi sarees come in pure silk, organza with zari and silk, georgette, and shattir. According to the design process, these are divided into categories like jangla, tanchoi, vaskat, cutwork, tissue and butidar. Despite being available throughout the country, many saree lovers prefer going to Varanasi especially to buy them.
History states that the elegant paithani saree that originated in Aurangabad reached its zenith during the Mughal period. The paithani with its zari border of an oblique square design, beautiful motifs and the recurrent peacock patterns on the pallu makes it one of the richest sarees of India. They are available in both six and nine yards, and what’s interesting is that both sides of the saree look exactly the same.
Few can resist the charm of these gossamer-like gorgeous sarees that come from the small, charming little town in Madhya Pradesh called Chanderi. Many fashion designers also work with Chanderi’s local artisans and together introduce new designs and colours and even threads to give the sarees a longer life. Chanderis are available in silks, cottons and silk-cotton fabrics and in hues ranging from pastels to bold shades that are enhanced with the use of silver and gold threads.
These incredibly beautiful sarees are charming offerings from the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The craft of bandhej or bandhini involves tying up portions of the cloth either in knots or with pieces of thread in different patterns, and then dipping the tied fabric in different colours. The knots and threads are opened up to reveal some of the most exquisite patterns created by the craft of tie and dye. These sarees come in silk, cotton, georgette and when out buying them, do ask for the leheriya style too.
Perfect for the warmer climes, taant sarees are offerings of West Bengal and Bangladesh. Distinguished by their light and transparent look, these come mostly in cotton and what makes them so popular is that they are comfortable, cool and light. Created in light, pastel shades, these sarees have a thick border with pallus that are woven in a variety of floral, paisley and other artistic motifs.
Intricately woven, the creation of these sarees is a long tedious process that entails the threads that are used for the warp and the weft be first tied and then dyed in a variety of colours. And when the weaving on the pit loom begins, the use of these dyed threads makes way for some of the most traditional and beautiful patterns such as flowers, shells, wheels, etc that have a deep symbolic meaning for the people of the region.
Perfect for most formal and non-formal occasions, tussar silk sarees have a natural golden sheen. They originally come in shades of cream and beige but are also often dyed for those who want this touch of resplendence in different hues. Adding charm to the fabric are embroideries like kantha, and it is this combination that many saree lovers find irresistible.
Believed to have been introduced to the Lucknow artisans by Mughal empress Nurjahan, the craft was originally done on muslin cloth as it was best suited to the hot and humid North Indian climate. Now that chikan work is being appreciated all across, you can pick up materials in organza and silk too. And with designs ranging from floral to geometrical, sometimes enhanced with sequins, beads and mirror work, these are a must in in every saree collection.
This traditional saree from Gujarat comes with a lovely, symbolic belief attached to it. Gifted by a woman to her new daughter-in-law, it indicates that she has been accepted and is now part of the family. Designed in a variety of colours but mainly in red, yellow and white, gharcholas are available mostly in cotton or silk fabrics with designs of large checks created in silk or zari threads.