Sari – The Most Humble Attire in Indian History

Do you know A Sari can be draped in 200+ different ways ? or There are 200 Drapes documented in last 40 years ? And even more than that existed some 100 years back ? The most common drape we see our mothers wearing these days is the newest (118 years old) among all hence named Nivi (aka New) Drape ? 

I am sure you dint know any of these just like I had no idea about all that, plus I don’t know easiest ways of sarihow to drape a Sari. And guess what I got to meet someone specializing in Saris, who is A Sari Researcher (yes.. such field of research do exist) and she is the one who made me realize to not to underestimate any of my passions or hobbies rather pursue them with all my heart and hard work. More about this story in this blog post so stay with me and explore The Story of Sari through my lens

Backstory

Born from India I was always well aware of just 2 drapes (seedha palla and ulta palla) of wearing a Sari. As I was used to of seeing my mom, my aunts wearing “ulte palle ki sari” while my maternal and paternal grand moms wearing “seedhe palle  ki sari”. And I always wondered how these 2 drapes differ from each other (remember me being Curious Soul). So once I pestered my grand mom a lot to elaborate how she wears a sari which is not how my mom wears. But that was it, I never tried to dig deeper into whys, hows (better words how manys) of Sari Drapes. Still as a kid whenever I visited a new state or a new city I did look at a new way of Sari wearing with some curiosity but had no idea or means to research about it.

Recently

But as there is always first time for everything, after so many years of keeping that curiosity in my heart I  happened to meet Nikayta during my Photography workshop. And believe me I was blown away by her Love towards Sari and Dedication to make Sari an inclusive attire by our so called Modern Generation.

At that time I got to know someone pursued a career as unique as Sari Researcher which I never heard of before. As I always thought researches can be done in the field of Physics or Chemistry or maximum History never beyond that. So she was an inspiration for me as well as her story as to how one instance made her fall in love for Sari. And how she worked hard to follow her love and passion for it.

Nikaytaa during Photography Workshop
Nikaytaa during Photography Workshop

Then I was lucky enough to be able to cover her recent workshop, as a Photographer (yayyy that’s my second professional gig). And the outcome was same as before, me literally Awestruck, Mesmerized by her vast knowledge about Sari, Sari and Society’s impact on each other, how much Sari’s evolved in last 100 years (may be more than that). Then how easily she created a drape on the spot cause she needed a pocket in her Sari that day (innovation you see)

Sari draped with a side pocket in her left side
Purple Sari draped with a side pocket in her left side

History cum Story

It was almost 3 hour session where she first explained about the History of Sari, Different types of drapes, and….

How much Sari had to struggle to survive in colonial era, how much discrimination Ladies had to experience in British rule.

How all different drapes of Sari became means to encourage caste-ism, which should not be the case ideally. 

How we got our most famous Nivi (aka New aka Nobeen) Drape (that’s the same drape my mom wears aka ulte palle ki sari) just 118 years back.

How in old time Saris was a mean to encourage hand loom business by supporting all workers there.

How introduction of Petticoat made power loom becoming a prominent part of Sari making business replacing hand looms and adversely impacting hand loom.

How every state has its own Drape which is based on the local climate and the occupation of the person wearing it.

How the material of Sari does not remain same but rather varies as per climate and the respective drape and so much more.

Participants immersed into the love of Sari
Participants immersed into the love of Sari
Love for Sari brings you closer to its story..isn't it ?
Love for Sari brings you closer to its story..isn’t it ?
Nikayta during session
Nikayta during session

Draping  Time

After knowing the history it was time to do some practice. Nikayta taught participants wearing 4 different types of drapes 1. Odisha Pant Drape, 2. Dress Drape, 3. East Champaran Drape, 4. Drape with pocket (the one she is wearing in the pics here) and it was FUN to know tips and tricks of draping Saris this way. 

Tip of the day
Tip of the day
Nikyata tying Odisha ant drape on Veda
Nikyata tying Odisha ant drape on Veda
Nikyata tying Odisha ant drape on Veda
Nikyata tying Odisha ant drape on Veda
Dress Drape
Dress Drape
Sari with Pocket
Sari with Pocket

Enthusiastic Participants

And see how everyone is so busy in trying their hands on this newly found superpower to Drape a Sari in whatever way they want without worrying about what people will say.

Get Set Go....
Get Set Go….
Dedication in the Love for Sari
Dedication in the Love for Sari

Sari in various Drapes

Here are some of the pics of the participants there with the drapes Nikayta taught them and they did themselves:

Sari draped as Dress
Sari draped as Dress
Sari draped as Dress
Sari draped as Dress
Sari draped as Dress with a Twist
Sari draped as Dress with a Twist
Sari draped as Dress
Sari draped as Dress
East Champaran drape
East Champaran drape
Models posing
Models posing
Models posing
Models posing
Loved the vibe of the session. Everyone was so energetic and fun to be around.
Loved the vibe of the session. Everyone was so energetic and fun to be around.
Finally the whole group.
Finally the whole group.

Obviously I couldn’t try any of them but I was happy learning the things from the sidelines. I usually walk too fast and was always at risk of tripping if wearing a Sari (usual Nivi drape). But finally I figured out there are drapes for someone like me who wants to be her usual fast walker without worrying about tripping. And I am going to practice these myself for sure.

Bottomline

I went there just as another Photographer but came out learning so much about Sari. “How Sari is much much more than just a 5 meter piece of cloth. It has all Indian Culture, History, its Stories, its Struggle weaved in those Warps and Wefts.” That was such an eye opening experience for someone like me who wants to explore everything about everything.  Also there is not one or two ways to drape a Sari but there are almost 200 ways one can drape a Sari and that too dependent on what they do in their day to day life. 

So the lesson from this workshop for me was:

Don’t restrict yourself in that Elegant looking, Touch me not Nivi drape, but rather Rock the world in Odisha Pants or be a Beauty in Dress Drape or Look Stylish in One Shoulder Drape. So Pick what you like and let it be your identity.

Do you know anything more about Sari which I couldn’t mention ? or Is there anything about Sari that mesmerizes you to know more about it ? Do share with  me in comments section.

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