Varieties of Sarees in India

So many to choose from

We have a ‘Bollywood Nite’ dinner function at our community club next weekend. It’s going to be a fun filled night with a buffet dinner and live Bollywood danec and music. While I was trying to decide on a Saree I wanted to wear for the event, I realized no two sarees I have are similar in any manner. And its just my own saree collection. Imagine going saree shopping in India where streets and malls are flooded with tons of varieties in sarees coming from over 30 states in India, with their own unique flavor of tradition. You are sure to be overwhelmed.

Vidya Balan wearing cotton+silk saree

*I would kill for this saree Vidya is wearing ;-)

Here’s just a quick heads up on what the saree stuff is all about.

What is a saree?

I am sure every part in the world is familiar with the word  ‘saree’, eventhough it is an Indian traditional wear. There is no art of tailoring involved in making a saree. It is just a 6 yards long strip of fabric that is wrapped around the body in the most graceful and sensuous manner. The art of making a saree lies in the variety of fabrics, designs, prints, bead-gem work, embroidery and many more traditional handcraft techniques. The costs range from Rs.200 ($5) for simple,everyday wear sarees to a few lakhs rupees ($thousands) for designer sarees.

Broadly, the types of sarees can be classified as Natural fabric and Synthetic fabric. Natural fabrics are cotton and pure silk from the silk-worms. Synthetic sarees are made from synthetic threads like polyester, chiffon, satin, crepe, Georgette etc.

If you want to know more about the types just google these – cotton, silk, banarasi, kanjivaram, calcutta cotton, bandhani, katha work, jardosi work, patola, paithani, chanderi, maheshwari, gadwal……this is not even the half of the list.

Some big names in designer sarees in India are – Satya Paul, Ritu Beri, manish Malhotra, tarun Tahiliani, Sabyasachi

Cotton Sarees

Most widely used and liked sarees made from natural cotton threads. Every season friendly, easy to wear and care, comfortable describes the cotton sarees. They come in many designes, borders and vibrant colors. A crisp startched and ironed saree with a traditional border makes a woman look so classy and respectable. Some types of cotton sarees are – calcutta cotton, orissa cotton, bandhani cotton, mangalgiri, chanderi, coimbatore cotton, gadwal cotton etc.

Pure silk Sarees

These are the most lavish sarees made from harvesting the silk threads from the silk-worms. The process is cruelty-free and the worms are not killed for the silk. The silk is processed to give it a finish and durability and the sarees are made. Authentic silk sarees can literally last for decades if kept with care. Some hundred years back, the royals had their palace interior, drapes, bedding and even floor-mats made with pure silk. Eye-popping fact, isn’t it!

Types of silk sarees – chanderi, banarasi, paithani, gadwal, kanji varam, kotta, khadi silk, cotton silk, paschima silk, peshwai silk, patola silk etc. There are more types with different blends of silk and other fabrics.

Synthetic Sarees

Rayon, nylon, polyester, satin, crepe, chiffon, net…name any fabric and you’ve got a saree made with it. Synthetic sarees have more varieties, more designs and more flexibility of usage. They are made keeping in kind the needs of today’s fast-paced women. Synthetics are also available in hundreds of varieties and price range.

Paithani Saree

Here is my favorite and the most extravagant royal favorite too. This saree hailing from Maharashta state in India, called Paithani, is made from 100% pure silk.

In the era of kingdoms, these sarees were hand-crafted and the golden, silver work used to be made with real, pure gold and silver threads, stones were real gems and diamonds and one saree could weight over 15kg. Now thats really lavish, isn’t it? Wonder how the queens got around wearing such an outfit! Well, they didn’t have to drive cars, go to work or pick their kids up from school. Aah the fun of ruling !!!!

If any of these sarees were around today, they would have to be kept safe in he museum. But sadly all the heritage was looted or detsroyed in several wars and freedom fights.

Saree shopping

The widest and best saree collection I have found online is at http://www.utsavfashion.com/saree/index.htm

Nowadays most sarees come with the matching material for a blouse. Most retailers have the facility to stitch the blouses for you. The varieties of blouse designs are endless and a perfect design to suit your saree and your body-type can make you rock the traditional or modern look you are going for. There are even pre-stitched sarees available now so that even non-Indians can adore themselves with this exotic piece of outfit. Saree is a type of clothing that suits the women of any age, race, color, body-type and features. The woman can look her best feminine-self wearing a properly draped saree. It is no wonder that saree export volumes are increasing day by day.

-Anu

* Updating the post to add more uses of sarees if you are not a saree-type person. They look great as curtains, table spreads, couch cushion covers, chair covers, bedding accessories. I have used some of my old sarees for a few interior ideas.

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