“The word sari described in Sanskrit शाटी śāṭī which means ‘strip of cloth’ and शाडी śāḍī or साडी sāḍī in Pali, and which was corrupted to sāṛī in Hindi. The word ‘Sattika’ is mentioned as describing women’s attire in ancient India in Sanskrit literature and Buddhist literature called Jatakas. This could be equivalent to modern day ‘Sari’. The term for female bodice, the choli evolved from ancient Stanapatta.
Rajatarangini (meaning the ‘river of kings’), a tenth-century literary work by Kalhana, states that the Choli from the Deccan was introduced under the royal order in Kashmir.”
“Every subject in Hindu culture is based on the science of Spirituality.”
In Hindu Dharma, tremendous importance has been given to why a woman should wear a sari.
All Hindu woman should always wear saris as an expression of their pride in Dharma. If this is not possible, then they can be requested to at least wear saris during festivals, celebrations, religious rituals and auspicious days as per the Hindu lunar calendar.
A sari helps in the activation of the Shaktitattva in a woman. By wearing a sari, the embodied soul imbibes Chaitanya and sattvikta from the environment. Cotton and silk sari have greater ability to imbibe sattvikta and Chaitanya. Hence, wearing cotton and silk saṛi helps obtain spiritual benefits in a higher proportion.
Benefits of woman wearing sari :
• Inculcation of humility
• Generation of modesty
• Increase in the stability of the mind and concentration of the Subconscious mind
• Awakening of maternal feelings
• Feeling that a sari is the symbol of a Deity
• Development of bhav
• Increase in self-confidence
• Increase in Kshātravruttiī (Attitude of a warrior)
• Increase in introversion and decrease in extroversion due to awareness of one’s true form.
In the history of Indian clothing the sari is traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which flourished during 2800–1800 BC around the western part of the Indian subcontinent. Cotton was first cultivated and woven in Indian subcontinent around 5th millenium BC. Dyes used during this period are still in use, particularly indigo, lac, red madder and turmeric. Silk was woven around 2450 BC and 2000 BC.The earliest known depiction of the sari in the Indian subcontinent is the statue of an Indus Valley priest wearing a drape.”
“The sari evolved from three-piece attire known as Antariya lower garment, Uttariya veil worn over shoulder or head and Stanapatta a chestband, which finds mentioned in Sanskrit literature and Buddhist Pali literature during 6th century B.C. This complete three-piece dress was known as Poshak, generic term for costume. Ancient Antariya closely resembled dothi wrap in the “fishtail” version which was passed through legs, covered the legs loosely and then flowed into a long, decorative pleats at front of the legs. It further evolved into Bhairnivasani skirt, today known as ghagri and lehenga. Uttariya was a shawl-like veil worn over shoulder or head, it evolved into what is known today known as dupatta and ghoongat. Like wise, Stanapatta evolved into choli by 1st century A.D.”
Between 2nd century B.C to 1st century A.D, Antariya and Uttariya was merged to form a single garment known as sari mentioned in Pali literature, which served the purpose of two garments in one-piece.”
“The ancient Sanskrit work, Kadambari by Banabhatta and ancient Tamil poetry, such as the Silappadhikaram, describes women in exquisite drapery or sari. In ancient India, although women wore saris that bared the midriff, the Dharmasastra writers stated that women should be dressed such that the navel would never become visible. By which for some time the navel exposure became a taboo and the navel was concealed. In ancient Indian tradition and the Natya Shastra (an ancient Indian treatise describing ancient dance and costumes), the navel of the Supreme Being is considered to be the source of life and creativity, hence the midriff is to be left bare by the sari.”
“Early Sanskrit literature has a wide vocabulary of terms for the veiling used by women, such as Avagunthana (oguntheti/oguṇthikā), meaning cloak-veil, Uttariya meaning shoulder-veil, Mukha-pata meaning face-veil and Sirovas-tra meaning head-veil. In the Pratimānātaka, a play by Bhāsa describes in context of Avagunthana veil that “ladies may be seen without any blame (for the parties concerned) in a religious session, in marriage festivities, during a calamity and in a forest”.  The same sentiment is more generically expressed in later Sanskrit literature. Śūdraka, the author of Mṛcchakatika set in fifth century BC says that the Avagaunthaha was not used by women everyday and at every time. He says that a married lady was expected to put on a vile while moving in the public.
This may indicate that it was not necessary for unmarried females to put on a veil. In 3rd century CE, Mahayana Buddhists attempt to counter this growing veiling practice (oguntheti/oguṇthikā) in Lalitavistara Sūtra.This form of veiling by married women is still prevalent in Hindi-speaking areas, and is known as Ghoonghat where the loose end of a sari is pulled over the head to act as a facial veil.
“Based on sculptures and paintings, tight bodices or cholis are believed have evolved between 2nd century B.C to 6th century A.D in various regional styles Early cholis were front covering tied at the back; this style was more common in parts of ancient northern India. This ancient form of bodice or choli are still common in the state of Rajasthan today. Varies styles of decorative traditional embroidery like gota patti, mochi, pakko, kharak, suf, kathi, phulkari and gamthi are done on cholis. In Southern parts of India, choli is known as ravikie which is tied at the front instead of back, kasuti is traditional form of embroidery used for cholis in this region. In Nepal, choli is known as cholo or chaubandi cholo and is traditionally tied at the front.
“Red is most favored color for wedding saris and are traditional garment choice for brides in Indian culture. Women traditionally wore various types of regional handloom sarees made of silk, cotton, ikkat, block-print, embroidery and tie-dye textiles. Most sought after brocade silk sarees are Banasari, Kanchipuram, Paithani, Mysore, Uppada, Bagalpuri, Balchuri, Maheshwari, Chanderi, Mekhela, Ghicha, Narayan pet and Eri etc are traditionally worn for festive and formal occasions. Silk Ikat and cotton sarees known as Patola, Pochampally, Bomkai, Khandua, Sambalpuri, Gadwal, Berhampuri, Bargarh, Jamdani, Tant, Mangalagiri, Guntur, Narayan pet, Chanderi, Maheshwari, Nuapatn, Tussar, Ilkal, Kotpad and Manipuri were worn for both festive and everyday attire. Tie-dyed and block-print sarees known as Bandhani, Leheria/Leheriya, Bagru, Ajrakh, Sungudi, Kota Dabu/Dabu print, Bagh and Kalamkari were traditionally worn during monsoon season.Gota Patti is popular form of traditional embroidery used on saris for formal occasions, various other types of traditional folk embroidery such mochi, pakko, kharak, suf, kathi, phulkari and gamthi are also commonly used for both informal and formal occasion.
“Today, modern fabrics like polyester, georgette and charmeuse are also commonly used.”
“Styles of draping”
Illustration of different styles of sari, gagra choli & shalwar kameez worn by women in South Asia
“There are more than 80 recorded ways to wear a sari. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with the loose end of the drape to be worn over the shoulder, baring the midriff. However, the sari can be draped in several different styles, though some styles do require a sari of a particular length or form. The French cultural anthropologist and sari researcher Chantal Boulanger categorised sari drapes in the following families:
Nivi – styles originally worn in Andhra Pradesh; besides the modern nivi, there is also the kaccha nivi, where the pleats are passed through the legs and tucked into the waist at the back. This allows free movement while covering the legs.”
Bengali and Odia style is worn without any pleats.”
Gujarati/ Rajasthani/ Pakistani – after tucking in the pleats similar to the nivi style, the loose end is taken from the back, draped across the right shoulder, and pulled across to be secured in the back”
Nepali – Nepali sari is worn in various forms of traditional nivi style, saris are worn with nepali blouse known as cholo.”
Maharashtrian/ Konkani/ Kashta; this drape is very similar to that of the male Maharashtrian dhoti,though there are many regional and societal variations. The centre of the sari (held lengthwise) is placed at the centre back, the ends are brought forward and tied securely, then the two ends are wrapped around the legs. When worn as a sari, an extra-long cloth of nine yards is used and the ends are then passed up over the shoulders and the upper body. The style worn by Brahmin women of differs from that of the Marathas.The style also differs from community to community.This style is popular in Maharashtra, Goa, parts of Karnataka.”
Madisar – this drape is typical of Iyengar/Iyer Brahmin ladies from Tamil Nadu. Traditional Madisar is worn using 9 yards saree.
Kodagu style – this drape is confined to ladies hailing from the Kodagu district of Karnataka. In this style, the pleats are created in the rear, instead of the front. The loose end of the sari is draped back-to-front over the right shoulder, and is pinned to the rest of the sari.”
Gobbe Seere – This style is worn by women in the Malnad or Sahyadri and central region of Karnataka. It is worn with 18 molas saree with three four rounds at the waist and a knot after crisscrossing over shoulders.”
Assamese – This sari style is three-set garment known Mekhela chador. The bottom portion, draped from the waist downwards is called Mekhela and veil is known as Chadar and is worn with long sleeve choli.”
Manipuri – This sari style is also worn with three-set garment known as Innaphi viel, Phanek lower wrap and long sleeved choli.”
Khasi – Khasi style of sari is known as Jainsem which is made up of several pieces of cloth, giving the body a cylindrical shape.”
Malayali style – the two-piece sari, or Mundum Neryathum, worn in Kerala. Usually made of unbleached cotton and decorated with gold or coloured stripes and/or borders. Also the Kerala sari, a sort of mundum neryathum.”
Tribal styles – often secured by tying them firmly across the chest, covering the breasts.”
Kunbi style or denthli:Goan Gauda and Kunbis,and those of them who have migrated to other states use this way of draping Sari or Kappad,this form of draping is created by tying a knot in the fabric below the shoulder and a strip of cloth which crossed the left shoulder was fasten on the back.”
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