The saree is not just traditional Indian attire for women but a witness to traditions and artistry as it grew through its weaves. Across the country of India and in neighbouring regions sarees have been adorned by women of all ages and communities with eternal grace and elegance.
Weaves Of India
There are countless weaves of sarees available across the length and breadth of India resplendent in their colour schemes and weave techniques that speak a thousand tales in a single piece of 6 yards of material.
One such style is found in the western Indian state of Gujarat – the bandhani saree. The colour palette and the technique that is put to use in the making of this saree is unique. Such sarees are available in a wide variety of materials like cotton, silk and blended fabrics.
What is the Process of Making the Bandhani
The name Bandhani is derived from the word Bandhan or bandha which means tying up; the entire process of Bandhani is an intricate arrangement of tying up the cloth which is then immersed in the dyeing colour. The sarees made in this way are regarded as auspicious and widely used in the western Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan during wedding ceremonies.
Types of Bandhani
There are several variations of the bandhani process which has remained popular through the decades of use. These are popular and auspicious even today when it comes to weddings in western India.
The first variety that comes to mind when we speak of Bandhani is the Gharchola saree; the reason being its beautiful use of colours like red, green, yellow and maroon. Most Gharchola materials are popularly used as a ‘Chunari’ which is like a scarf used to cover the heads.
There is however an easy means to differentiate the gharchola from the regular bandhani – the square or grid patterns used in the designs in a consistent manner. Gharchola designs have never seen any transformations over the decades and continue to mesmerise with their beauty.
The next variety of the bandhani which too is considered very auspicious for weddings in the western regions of the country is the Panetar saree. This saree is traditionally given as gift by the maternal uncle of the bride and worn at the start of the wedding ceremony. These are usually made with a type of silk called Gajji; Panetar is available in a combination of red and white colours only. There is also an intricate use of beadwork and zari embroidery along the borders thus making it a unique wedding saree in Gujarat.
Another beautiful and unique type of bandhani will be the Patola saree. The uniqueness lies in the designs of the Patola that is same on both sides. This makes it almost impossible to say which side of the saree is to be worn. The second thing is a unique lock system which is present in the weave of the silk; it is a symbol of genuine quality of the silk that is left by the weaver himself.
Patola silk sarees can be very expensive because of the intricate weaving style that is adopted here with both horizontal and a vertical weave of the thread. The designs that come out as a result of this weave are not just visual delight but graced with clinical perfection.
Ajrakh saree is another variant of the Bandhani style. A wide range of dresses and other Indian attires too are made from this material as well. In this style there are beautiful geometric designs that are carved on wooden blocks and used to block print the designs on fabrics. Ajrakh designs are available in cotton and silk materials alike.
Sarees are available in expensive silk materials as well as linen and cotton that make for comfortable wear in the hot summer months. A range of twenty-five colours like red, blue, maroon, yellow and green are used among others.
Ajrakh can be an expensive process because of the individual block designs are carved out of wooden blocks and come at high prices.
These weaves and designs are not merely an art of making sarees or dress materials; they are a story of evolution and the preservation of a form of art that can soon die quietly owing to water shortage and rising costs.