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Traditional trousseau

The wedding season is on. Tradition demands that the bride wear a sari during this auspicious occasion. JESSINA ABOOBACKER mulls over the different kinds of saris worn by Indian brides.

HOWEVER MOD we tend to be, when it comes to ceremonies we hark back to tradition. Marriage is the most eagerly awaited occasion in a girl's life and she wishes that the fairy godmother flashes her magic wand and makes her another Cinderella.

It's the beginning of a journey into a new life. Nothing befits the starting of it as perfectly as looking great and feeling good. It's difficult to imagine a traditional Indian bride in anything but a sari. The sari is as closely associated to the marriage as the `mangalsutra'. Discover some of the traditional 9 yards and 5 yards of beauty draped around the Indian brides. In Kerala it's the settu mundu or kavani saree. But the Christian brides usually wear white- a sign of purity and innocence. They have intricate embroideries of gold and silver woven into them. They are tailor made to suit the occasion. Tamil Nadu is famous the world over for its Kanjeevaram pattu. The silk thread used in weaving six meters of this silk is made of three single threads twisted together. No wonder they are heavier, stronger and costlier than their counterparts of the neighbouring areas like Arni and Dharmavaram. The typical temple sari has gopuram motifs. Kornad saris being similar to Kanjeevaram are green or yellow with broad red and gold borders and pallavs.

Today, not only Tamils but also almost the whole country wears Pattu sarees like Kanjeevarams for the weddings. Karnataka finds a place on the silk map for its Mysore or Chamundi silk saris. From the Hubli- Dharwad region is the hand embroidered Kasuti sari, each of which takes three to four months to weave. This is a must in a Kannadiga bride's trousseau. Illkul sarees are a traditional wear of the Illkul and Gulegudd village. They are made in earth colours and woven with zari and worn with the `khan' blouses. Gadak Bedegeri or the Narayanpet sari is another famous silk of this region.

"But red and white saris are favourites throughout the state," says Shyma Ravi, a Coorgi, settled in Kochi.

When we think of north and central India, heavy Banarasi sari comes to our mind. These are mainly categorised into two _ the khinchabs in which the zari fully over shadows the basic silk. The other, being the Amru brocade, which is woven in silk thread. The most distinctive Amru is the Tanchoi. "It's a perfect prelude to the most cherished moment in your life. Now these Banarasi are easily available in Kochi," says Alka Alokesh.

In Maharashtra, it's green, the colour for growth and productivity. The paithani saree has motifs of peacock, parrot, kalash (pot with coconut and mango leaves) or the lotus, on a green background. The zari on the Shallu sari is woven into the pallav and border. Ashtputri sari is traditionally yellow with a golden border.

Most of the saris are worn in the navwari style (nine yards). Some are also worn in the pachwari style (five yard). The Bandini of Gujarat has become as dear to Kerala as the kavani. The Gharchola with bandhini (tie and dye) motifs usually in red or green with zari squares. "The number of squares is significant to the gharchola-12 or 52 with bandini motifs worked into each square.

"The Panetar sari is white silk regularly spaced with bandini motifs. The red border and pallav are woven in gold zari," comments Reshma ShivaKumar, a Gujarathi Jain married to a Tamil in Kochi. In the 80s many of our brides in Kerala wore their saris in the Gujarathi way popularised by the Bollywood heroines. In the East, Orrisa Pasapalli or the Saktapar sari has the auspicious checkerboard ikat woven patterns in red, white and black. The tradition demands a Vichitrapuri sari in the red and white ikat woven checks and stripes.

"The Oriya sari is a collector's delight. So easy to wear and manage for every occasion," opines Rajini Rath. Most of the saris in the east are worn in the Shanthiniketan style. Bengal has many traditional tales to describe the plethora of wedding saris dear to the State.

How can we ever forget the six-meter magic adorned by Paro (Ashwarya Rai) and Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit) of `Devdas' fame? The Gorod or plain silk sari with red border dotted, evenly spaced with kolkas (red paisleys). Red border speaks for the Suhagan (married women), thus ideal for this auspicious day.

The Dhoop chhaon (double shade) sari of Bhisnupur are so named due to the intricacy of colours that play on it. The Baluchari sari or the brocade of Murshidabad is special and heavy because of the richness of untwisted silk. The weavers incorporate `nazarbatu' (flaws) intentionally to ward off evil eyes. Tussar Beguri sari, Biya logoner tussar sari, Gharbosuti are some other traditional variety of the State.

In Bihar Muslim brides wear the Mulmul Dhakai sari woven by Ansari weavers. The Bhavanbuti sari has 52 motifs. Over the years the number of motifs has increased to suit the elite class. This variety is indispensable in a Kurmi bride's dowry. They are mainly worn in Gaya and Bihar Sharif areas. There are striking differences among sari designs through out the country. But there is unity in this diversity. Some of the motifs are common. They are mainly to guard against evil and misfortune as they signify growth, fertility and marital bliss.

The wedding sari, after all, means much to a bride.

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