Chanderis and heavy Kanjeevarams; Kantha stitch saris and crisp, cotton tant, jostle in trousseaus and wardrobes with light-as-soufflé chiffons, georgettes and crepes; butter-soft mysore silks; paper-thin tussar and royal paithani. Just like the variety of saris found across the length and breadth of the sub-continent, there are myriad ways of draping a sari.
Common and Popular: The urban Indian style is by far the most popular and convenient. Stiff tangails, flowing silks, elegant chiffons and heavy brocades – all of these can be easily maneuvered into this style. Tied around the waist, the sari forms a skirt with the pleats positioned in front thus allowing for free movement. The pallav or the part draped over the left shoulder is either pleated and pinned up the convenience, or is left flowing loose for glamour.
Bengali style: Another style that was popularized by Aishwarya Rai in Devdas is the Bengali drape. There are no pleats in the traditional Bengali style of draping a sari. The sari is wrapped around the waist and tucked in at the left. This is then brought back to the right side and draped over the left shoulder. The portion left over is brought up under the right arm and draped once again over the left shoulder. The bunch of keys usually tied to the end of the pallav, jingle merrily as they walk, giving the women a traditional air.
Drape it the Tamil way: There are two major groups in Tamil Nadu – the Iyers who worship Lord Shiva and the Iyengars, who worship Lord Vishnu. The way the sari is draped is different in both these communities. The women of both communities prefer to wear the nine-yard sari. Though in the Iyengar style of wearing a sari, after the first wrapping around the waist, the sari is brought back and pleated with the pleats positioned along the left leg. The rest of the sari is draped over the left shoulder, wrapped once again round the waist and tucked on the left side.
However the lyer style includes a few pleats at the back. It is not very often that one sees women dressed in such sarees today. The style is by far, too cumbersome for the modern women.
Coorg: It is the land of cardamom and coffee, of oranges and cashew, of brave generals and happy people. Here the women wear the sari in a unique way where the pleats of the sari are not in the front but at the back forming a fan. This is held in place with a broach or a pin.
Maharashtra: Here, the nine-yard sari is tied around the waist to form a loose trouser, which provides greater freedom of movement to the wearer. The pleats are in front with the pallav falling over the right shoulder.
Gujarat: To the north of the state of Maharashtra is the state of Gujarat. The typical patola saris in vibrant silks and earthy cottons are worn by the women of Gujarat in a style quite similar to the urban Indian one. The only difference is that the pallav is brought over the right shoulder and tucked across in front on the left side.
Bihar: Bihar in the east is the home of the Santhal tribals. The saree as worn by these tribal women is quite different. Tied around the waist, the saree reaches upto the kness. The pallav is draped in the normal way around the left shoulder and then tucked in at the waist making for easy movement through the forests.
So, a variety of saris that can be draped in a million ways – now isn’t that a fashion statement in itself?
by Chandana Banerjee