“The saree’s radiance, vigour and variety, produced by a single straight length of cloth, should give us in the West pause and make us think twice about the zipper, the dart and the shoulder pad.”- Naveen Patnaik, CM, Orissa.
A saree is an untailored length of cloth, worn by females, ranging from four to nine metres in length that is draped over the body in various styles. It is popular in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Burma, and Malaysia. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder baring the midriff. A saree, in the Indian culture, stands for purity, as it was felt that cloth cut and pierced by needles was impure, just like dhoti.
It is an evergreen attire, that can never go out of fashion. It does not limit a woman in any way, as women of all ages, body shapes, religion, and marital status can wear it. In fact it is one of those few things in India that does not discriminate the wearer in terms of caste, creed and colour. It brings out the beauty in a woman and makes heads turn. All types of ornaments, be it gold jewellery or fashionable accessories like tribal jewellery, can go with Saree. Normally, women may wear a saree to almost any setting, be it a social occasion, a house party, the office space, formal events, or even in day-to-day domestic settings.
Unlike various other attires, sarees have been able to adapt to every age. A saree has a quality of inter mixing with every era and civilisation. Before the onset of western culture in India, they were worn by everyone in the most sober manner. Over the years, the saree evolved into a fashion statement, with most fashion designers experimenting on its styles and coming up with exquisite designs and types. In fact, even in the film industry, almost all romantic and sensual duets are shot with the actress wearing a saree!
We youngsters are so much into western dresses and jeans that it becomes a matter of surprise when an elder finds us wearing a saree. “What’s the occasion” is what they then keep asking. But we don’t need an occasion to put on a saree. We can drape one over and move out to buy grocery if we want. It’s not something that should only be worn by our moms, aunts, and grandmas.
Women are very conscious about their attire suiting their body structures. Healthy women spend enormous amounts of time trying to find the perfect clothing to go with their figure. Well, the Saree is just the right thing for such people. One can adjust one’s style of draping a Saree to one’s figure. That’s the best thing about a saree. It can be worn by people of all sizes and shapes!
It is a very balanced type of clothing by letting you achieve two important goals at the same time. It makes you look sexy and lets you express your body’s sensuality, as well as appear cultured. It is sexy as it brings out the feminine side of the woman and defines their curvaceous shape. Isn’t this why so many of us girls wear it on our farewell parties during graduation? It shows you as a respectful, dignified and ‘sanskaari’ person, as an ‘Ideal Indian Woman’ before the elderly people. (But don’t wear it too very often or they might start saying you’re ready to get married and will start looking for a suitable groom for you!) So in a way, it evokes sensuality by exposing regions of the waist and neck, and respect by properly covering all other parts of the body, with the length even allowing oneself to cover their head to show respect to elders.
It’s very easy to put on a western dress, frock or maxi and show off at a social occasion. But it needs self-confidence and grace to be able to carry a saree with a head held high. It’s a talent to be able to wear a saree with heels and walk, work and even dance all day long. It is not a task for the weak-kneed nervous women.
While it holds true that a saree is one of the most beautiful attires in the world, such that fashion designers and stylists overseas have started to include it in their collections and shows, many people with Western ideologies and taste would counter the statement. It holds true that other types of dresses are as equally glorious as our Indian set of clothes, but one must not forget that there is no harm in lionizing and highlighting a true part of our heritage, which is most important in today’s era that sees a diminishing Indian culture against the augmenting western trends.