Indian wedding sarees are special
Indian wedding sarees are the Rolls Royce of sarees! The saree is the world’s oldest, and perhaps the only surviving unstitched garment from the past. The four to nine metres long cloth that women drape around themselves was first known as Sati from the Sanskrit word – meaning, a strip of cloth, which evolved into Sadi and then Sari.
Over the years, this garment has not only become a sensuous, glamorous all-time wear for women but also serves as a canvas for weavers to create artistic weaves, jewelled or gold-silver embellishments, creating a completely new market for wedding silk sarees.
Encyclopaedia notes that the saree is associated with grace, and is widely regarded as a symbol of Indian and South Asian cultures. That’s why Indian wedding sarees are cherished the world over.
Sarees have evolved to keep pace wth the changing times and Indian bridal sarees are no exceptions. Modern weaving techniques continue to coexist with age-old traditions in the making of Indian wedding dresses for bride.
Indian weddings require exquisite Indian bridal sarees
In India, weddings are said to be over the top. Indian wedding sarees are extravagant and ultra-luxurious, with complex, intricate and extensive embroidery and embellishments. They are created specially to make the bride look the most gorgeous on her special day, and the centre of everyone’s attention.
The base fabric usually used for bridal saris are in shades of red, pink, cream or beige. The choice of these colours depends on the bride’s glamour quotient on her most special day. Some of the bridal saree works include Zari, Zardosi, Resham, Thread, Stones, Stone embroidery, Diamante, Patch, Kundan, to name a few. Other popular works include sequins, Kardana, Digital prints, Borders (velvet and lace borders).
Let’s look at 5 different types of Indian wedding sarees, where they are made, where you can buy them and how to take care of them.
1. Kanchipuram sarees
Indian wedding sarees are known by the places where they are made. Kanchipuram sarees are no exception. Kanchipuram is a town located near Chennai. Kanchipuram sarees make use of a combination of numerous coloured threads.
Adding to the attraction of the saris is the exquisite and elaborate zari work. These are woven naturally and distinguished by their wide contrast borders. It is believed that two weaving communities from neighbouring Andra Pradesh, the Devangas and Saligars, migrated to Kanchipuram more than 400 years ago during the reign of Krishna Deva Raya. These weaving communities sparked the growth and popularity of Kanchipuram silk sarees.
Kanchipuram sarees make use of a combination of numerous coloured silk threads. Their elaborate zari work and colourful borders with motifs provide an opportunity for the weavers to keep the sarees in tune with the changing fashion. Here is a documentary that shines some light on the making of a Kanchipuram silk saree.
Traditionally Kanchipuram sarees have Indian motifs based on temples and paintings. We also see scenes from epics like Mahabharata as well as modern patterns and designs that will appeal to contemporary Indian brides.
Price of Kanchipuram sarees
According to Cultural India,
“Kanchipuram saris vary widely in cost depending on the intricacy of work, colours, pattern, the material used like zari (gold thread). Simple sarees can be weaved in about 10-12 days, but decorative ones require up to 20 days of workmanship.Kanjivarams are expensive and can cost anywhere between Rs. 2000 to Rs. 50,000. The cost of the sari depends on the amount of zari intertwined with the silk. The more the zari work, the more expensive the saree will be.”
We also found that expensive Kanchipuram sarees can breach the Rs100,000 mark easily!
Where can you buy Kanchipuram sarees?
Of course, Kanchipuram is just a short drive from Chennai. You can directly buy from the looms. But if you prefer shopping in air-conditioned comfort, try visiting the huge outlets in T.Nagar, Chennai.
Caring for your Kanchipuram silk sarees
Kanchipuram silk sarees should be stored in hangars in a dark closet. You can also wrap them in cotton cloth if you have run out of hangar space! You can wash silk sarees in cold water with shampoo. Dry it in the shade and never wring your silk saree. With care, Indian bridal silk sarees from Kanchipuram will last several generations.
Benarsi sarees from Varanasi (Benaras) are considered among the finest sarees in India known for their gold and silver brocade, fine silk and exquisite embroidery. They have engravings on them, and that explains as to why they are relatively heavy!
Benarsi sarees traces its history all the way to the Mahabharata. However, they became popular in Indian during the time of the Mughals and was exclusively made for the royalty. These sarees have Persian influence in terms of designs and patterns and were made of gold and silver threads for the royalty.
Their special characteristics are Mughal-inspired designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs. If you have ever been to the Taj Mahal you will see similar floral patterns there reflecting the Mughal style.
Benarsi sarees need not be always silk. They are also available in Georgette, Cotton, and Organza. Of course, we are interested in Indian wedding sarees and that automatically means silk!
If you are indulgent, you can get a pure zari Benarsi sari. But if you want silk, you also have the option of choosing different types of silk – Katan, Kora, Khadi, Tussar to name a few.
Did you know that the motifs of Benarsi sarees are based on Jasmine, Thousand Emeralds, Marigold, Betelnut Leaf, and Mango?
Price of Benarsi sarees
These sarees range in price from Rs.2000 to Rs.60,000, depending on the embroidery and works. If you want pure zari Benaras saree with hand-crafted embellishments, you will end up paying over Rs100,000.
Where can you buy Benarsi sarees?
You can purchase them at Bari Bazaar in Varanasi. There are six districts in UP that sells this saree legally – Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts. Chowk, Godoulia Market and Vishwanath Gali are the main markets where you see a wide range of these amazing sarees.
Caring for your Benarsi sarees
Dry cleaning is preferred. Since it is exorbitant these days, consider washing the saree with cold water and mild detergent. While washing, first wash the saree 2-3 times with cold water and then consider using detergent or shampoo. Wash the saree alone and do not mix it with the blouse and petticoat. Avoid using a brush or rubbing the saree. Do not wring the saree. First, wash the pallu and borders, and then the entire saree. Do not dry the saree in direct sunlight.
To remove stains, use petrol to remove hard and dark stains. To remove nail paint stains, use acetone. Use a mild detergent or shampoo to remove food stains. To remove ghee, butter and oil stains, first, rub talcum powder on the stain and then wash with mild detergent.
Benares sarees are lovely to wear at weddings but they are very heavy, and if stains appear on them, they can look ugly and requires a lengthy process to get rid of them.
3. Mysore silk sarees
Mysore silk is a trademark of silk sarees made by KSIC (Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation) in Mysore, Karnataka. The distinguishing feature of this saree is the usage of pure silk and 100% pure gold zari (a golden coloured thread containing 65% of silver and 0.65% of gold). These sarees are manufactured in a silk factory located in Mysore city.
The factory that makes these sarees was started in 1912 by the Maharaja of Mysore by importing 32 looms from Switzerland. In 1980, this factory was transferred to KSIC and now has around 159 looms. Every saree produced here comes with an embroidered code number and a hologram to verify authenticity.
Mysore silk sarees are also undergoing an innovating change with the use of kasuti embroidery, thickly woven pallus (the part of the saree worn over the shoulder), bandhini techniques and new colours like lilac, coffee-brown, and elephant-grey. There are 115 varieties of sarees in more than 300 shades of colours. Varieties like crepe-de-chine, georgette, zari printed crepe and semi-crepe sarees are available for purchase. The designer Mysore silk saree has zari work all over, and motifs like mango buttis, floral borders and an elegant pallu.
For more information, check out this site.
Price of Mysore silk sarees
The original sarees are priced between Rs. 1000/- to 50,000/- depending on quality.
Where can you buy Mysore silk sarees?
Badsha’s Saibeen Silks, Sukri’s Silks and Menaka Silks are all located on Devaraj Urs Road (Bangalore). They stock Mysore silks. The State Emporium and Bhojayya Shilpa Silks located in the heart of the city at KR Circle (Bangalore) is also where you can purchase Mysore silk sarees.
Caring for your Mysore silk sarees
Never machine-wash a Mysore silk saree. A saree should be either delicately hand-washed and are best dry-cleaned. At home, we can wash them in soft detergents. Soap-nut boiled in water, yielding a soft lather, is best for silks. Only pre-washed silk is washable. Read the label!
After washing, we should roll the silk saree in a white towel to remove the excess moisture, and then hang dry on a padded hanger.
4. Maheshwari sarees
Maheshwari sarees have royal origins dating back to the 18th century. Here is an extract that provides an in-depth description of the history and significance of Maheshwari sarees.
The Maheshwari fabric is mainly used to design Maheshwari sarees, and it originates from the town of Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh. These sarees were first found and produced in the town of Maheshwar, hence the name. Initially, they were made of pure silk, but over time, cotton was one of the major fabrics used for these exquisitely designed sarees.
The interesting legend behind these sarees is that Queen Ahilyabai Holkar ordered various craftsman and artisans from Malwa and Surat to design a special saree with 9 yards, which later came to be known as the Maheshwari saree. These sarees were supposed to be a special gift for the royal relatives and guests who visited the palace. In fact, it was the queen herself who designed the first saree. Following this, Maheshwari sarees became extremely popular in and around Madhya Pradesh.
The grandeur of the forts in Madhya Pradesh and their designs is what played an important role in inspiring the technique, weaves, and motifs on the Maheshwari saree. Some of these popular designs include the Mat pattern (chattai pattern), along with ‘Chameli ka phool’ which is inspired by the Chameli flower. One can also see the ‘Eent’ pattern which is basically a brick and ‘heera’, which is a diamond.
Of all the Indian wedding sarees, we believe the Maheshwari silk saree is best suited for brides that prefer a lightweight and comfortable bridal attire.
Here is a video of Maheshwari saree in the making.
A unique characteristic of Maheshwari sarees is that it is reversible! You can wear the sarees on both sides. It is available in silk as well as in cotton.
The price of Maheshwari sarees can vary depending on whether it is made of silk or cotton or a mix of silk and cotton. Silk sarees can be priced from Rs1000 all the way to Rs 30,000 or even more!
Where can you buy Maheshwari sarees
The Rehwa Society in Maheshwar was formed by the son by of Queen Ahilya Bhai Holkar in Maheshwar. This is a collective that aims to empower local craftsmen to make Maheshwari sarees and also help sell their products through large retailers like FabIndia. You can, of course, go to Maheshwar if you are interested in buying from the looms there. Who knew your love for Indian wedding sarees can take you places!
Caring for your Maheshwari sarees
Maheshwari sarees are light weight and can handle a gentle wash cycle in cold water and mild detergents. If your Maheshwari saree is made of silk or is expensive, please use caution when washing. All the tips applicable for maintaining a Mysore silk saree or Kanchipuram silk saree is applicable for Maheshwari silk sarees as well.
5. Paithani sarees
Paithani sarees are named after the town responsible for its inception (Paithan), Maharashtra. They are made of exquisite silk and are hand woven. The craft of weaving this saree was invented in 200 B.C and flourished during the Satvahana era.
In the ancient days, the Paithani sarees were no less than ornamental treasures and was paid for by the western travellers in gold and gems. To date, the real Paithani sarees are handwoven with real silver or gold or pure silk.
A true Paithani saree is characterised by the borders of an oblique and square design having a pallu with a peacock, mangoes or lotuses. They are available in kaleidoscopic colours, and this effect is achieved by varying the weave. A particular colour is used for weaving lengthwise while another is used widthwise. The design woven on the border separates it from all other sarees.
The greatest speciality of the Paithani saree lies in its pallu. It can also have edges lined with rare gems and precious pearls. The time taken to create a Paithani can range from 2 months to a year, depending on the pallu and border.
Price of Paithani sarees
Paithani sarees are one of the most expensive among Indian wedding sarees. Its manufacturing can cost anything from 60,000 rupees to 5 lakh rupees. It is customary to wear a Paithani saree with plenty of Gold ornaments in Maharashtra. Hope you can afford the saree and the gold accessories!
Where can you buy Paithani sarees
The numerous shops that sell sarees in Dadar market sell Paithani sarees. There are stores in Pune (Peshwai, Tathastu and Kajari) that see Paithani sarees. Of course, you visit Paithan which is about 56 kilometres from Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
Caring for your Paithani sarees
Our recommendation is not to mess your Paithani sarees and use it as gently as you can. This is an heirloom to be passed on to the next generation. All the tips applicable for silk sarees is applicable to Paithani sarees as well. Because you have gold threads to worry about, please do not wear your Paithani bridal saree and go anywhere near food.
Before you buy your Indian wedding sarees
- Make sure you take your immediate family’s preferences are taken into consideration before choosing Indian wedding sarees for your wedding.
- Identify all the rituals that require you to be attired in any traditional dress. You may have to buy multiple bridal sarees for different rituals.
- Keep in mind that the saree is comfortable to wear if you are expected to perform rituals in front of the fire.
- When shopping, you will have to drape yourself with the saree and make sure it suits you. Shopkeepers in India are more than willing to help you with the draping.
- The bridegroom’s family may also buy bridal sarees for you. Make sure you don’t end up buying identical sarees and deal with the hassle of exchanging the sarees or irritating your future in-laws.
- Make sure your preferred tailor is available to take up blouse stitching work. Please have enough time in your plan to do some alterations before the wedding.