Saree (Sari)

The traditional Indian dress is the Sari which can be worn in many ways. Underneath the sari one wears a Petticoat, a waist to floor length skirt, tied tightly at the waist by a drawstring and a Cholli ; a blouse that ends just below the bust. The Salwar Kameez in India is the second most popular dress and is gaining in popularity fast with the younger generation. The Salwar Kameez in India too has had many design changes. The new designers have come up with great variations of the Salwar Kameez. Women also wear Lehengas.

The Indian Saree (or Sari) boasts of oldest existence in the sartorial world. It is more than 5000 years old! Patterns of dress change throughout the world, the Sari has survived because it is the main wear of rural India. 75% of the population (now a billion as per official estimate) wear versatile sari. We can certainly call this cloth versatile because it could be worn as shorts, trousers, flowing gown-like or convenient skirt, all without a single stitch!

Saree is of varied length. From 5 yards to 9.5 yards tied loosely, folded and pleated, it could be turned into working dress or party wear with manual skill. For day today dress of middle class women, 5-6 yard sari is comfortable to manage household chores.

Working class tucks the same length above the ankles and if they have to work in water or fields, they would tuck the front pleats between the legs to the back, and tie the upper portion round the waist. This left them free movement of hands and legs.

A nine yard saree used to be a connoisseurs pleasure with embellishments, embroidery and fine designing. Generally the climate of India is warm and humid. Saree and its male counterpart dohti was most suited for this land. Styles of wearing saree vary from region to region. Gujarat style and Bengali style are different. So are Mangalorean, Kannadiga, Kodava, Tamilian,  Malayali, etc. The Saree is worn in at least 10-15 styles throughout the India.

Saree is essentially Indian and designed to suit local conditions.
Raja Ravi, the distinguished painter of 19th century, toured the entire sub continent in search of the ideal female wear. He wanted the best dress for the various goddesses he was asked and commissioned to paint. He selected the a  nine yard saree which drapes the body beautifully at the same time exhibiting contours of female anatomy; bust, waist, hips.

How to wear Saree:

Various regions of India have their own unique style of wearing the sari. The Gujarati style of wearing a saree requires the pallu to be draped artistically in the front rather than over the shoulder. Sarees with eye-catching magnificent pallus are best worn in this style. The Bengali style of wearing a sari has no pleats and the pallu has a bunch of keys that falls over the shoulder. The Corgi style of draping a saree involves tying the pleats in the rear and a small portion of the pallu is placed over the shoulder. The Maharashtrian nauvari style of draping a saree involves wearing the nine yards of fabric in a style that is traditional to the region. In Tamil Nadu, certain sections of society wear the nine-yard saree in a wrap around style sans pleats

1. Tuck the plain end of the saree into the petticoat and continue tucking till you take a complete turn from right to left. Adjust the lower end of the saree to the height required. Ideally wear your footwear so that you drape the sari to the right length.

2. Create pleats with the sari. About 69 pleats would do with most saris. Here it is essential to see that the pleats are even and fall straight.

3. Tuck the pleats into the waist petticoat, taking care to see that the pleats are turned towards the left.

4. The remaining portion of the saree must be turned once around the body and then draped over the left shoulder.

5. Arrange the pleats on this part of the saree and then pin them up on the left shoulder to prevent the pallu from falling off.

Before draping the saree, ensure that you wear a well-fitting blouse and petticoat. Do not wear a flared petticoat. Getting a fall stitched on the saree bottom ensures a better drape. While some women prefer to wear the top portion of the saree loosely over the shoulder and allow the rest to fall gracefully, others pin up the front pallu in pleats for a neat look. Use a pin to secure the pallu on the blouse to prevent the sari from falling in front.

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