Perhaps my favorite part of Delectable Destinations is connecting with brilliant colleagues in other countries. I’m excited to share another guest post today, this time from one of our partners in India! Renu Choudhary, pictured above on the left beside me, hails from Delhi and has insider access to highly unique, authentic and experiential journeys to the Indian Sub-Continent, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet & Myanmar. We’re honored to share her unique insight and knowledge of the Indian Saree. Part personal essay, part historical deep dive, we hope you enjoy Renu’s words!
Photo Credits: Anil Chawla
One of the most iconic, vivid images associated with India is that of an Indian woman draped in large swaths of stunning fabric known as the Saree.
Sarees are deeply rooted in the cultural (and literal) fabric of India as a traditional garment for women of all ages. From all geographic corners of India, the Saree unites women of social strata. Indian women don the saree and go about their day to day lives with effortless grace.
The sheer enormity of colors, fabrics, textures, and drapes this beautiful attire lends itself to is simply mind-boggling! From simple linen to cotton and gossamer, silks, chiffons, georgette, organza… the list goes on and on.
The design of the Saree is also incredibly diverse. As far as the types of weaves, embroidery, and kaleidoscopic colors in which Sarees are available in India… the variety is the stuff of legends!!
The Evolution of an Indian Tradition
The Saree, in my opinion, is much more than a national costume that binds the women of the country together! This ancient, traditional garment is like the country itself: it has persevered, toiled, transformed, and continues to evolve, encompassing the changing world around it but also remaining consistently true to its innate aesthetics.
This ancient garment remains popular today, a testament to its timelessness. Still ubiquitous, on the runway at leading fashion shows, in Bollywood, on the streets of both rural and urban India. Women of all ages cut across all social strata, the saree is as firmly entrenched in the cultural fabric of the country as it was eons ago.
Did I say Traditional?
It is a curious and intoxicating mixture of both!
The Saree co-exists and seamlessly blends into the social fabric of what is “Incredible India!” While across the globe, traditional garments with strong cultural identities have been relegated to the dark recess of most women’s wardrobes, this is not the case with Indian women.
The moment an Indian woman comes of age, one of the essential staples in her journey through life…is a Saree. The poignant memories attached to a Saree are many, many, and so many!
Which Saree is the Most Special?
The first one which she wore on her high school graduation party? Or the simple traditional cotton Saree she wore while getting her degree in college? Or the stunning and radiant Red-colored saree, which she wore on her marriage day? The treasure trove of memories continues throughout her life cycle. Or is it the one which she wore during the blessing ceremonies of her newborn babies? Or the emotional moments which she experienced…while she was passing on her heirloom wedding Saree to her daughter on her wedding day?
The Saree, with its inherent elegance, gorgeous silhouette, drape and what was a traditional piece of garment has now taken on a new, contemporary and sexy avatar in 21st century India.
The unstitched single piece of cloth evolved due to ancient Hindu belief that stitching cloth made it impure. And so the four-and-a-half to eight meters of cloth – draped around the lower body and then with a tactful pleating process folded across the upper body – came to be India’s chosen attire.
The Saree through the ages…
The History of the Indian Saree is over 5,000 years old!
The oldest form of a garment in the world, which is still in existence. Rig Vedas – among the oldest literature composed by mankind mention it and records from the Indus Valley Civilization also indicate its existence.
The love affair that Indian women have with the Saree has continued down the ages. Numerous Goddess, Aprsaras and Consorts which grace thousands of temples across the country are draped in this timeless, classic piece of garment.
Renowned sculptors, painters have made fabulous paintings, stone sculptures, wall paintings which have immortalized this stunning garment for posterity.
My very Personal Love Affair with the Saree…
What is it about this timeless garment which fascinates me? Again and again? Is it the nostalgic memories of my Grandmother, Mother, and Aunts effortlessly draping the 6 yards of gorgeous fabric with elan and looking oh so elegant?
Or is it the beautiful yester-years heroines of Hindi cinema draped in gossamer sarees singing and dancing and creating celluloid history by lighting up the silver screen?
What is it about the 6 – 8 yards of an un-stiched, single piece of cloth which invokes visions of elegance, sensuality, allure, and personification of ultimate grace?
I guess it is all of the above and more…..!
Also, the answer lies in the immense versatility which the Saree brings to the table to women of all ages, shapes, and sizes.
The drape of saree wraps around the woman’s body softly blurring out all the flaws, lending itself to lovely silhouette, which is so uniquely her own! The Saree hides it all and then beautifully accentuates the curves.
Indian women look the most beautiful when they wear a Saree…I guess I am rather biased when I make this tall claim, however, no one can wear a garment with such grace and finesse as an Indian woman.
But at some point, when an Indian woman wears a Saree, the way it is draped, it reveals, yet conceals and still comes across as immensely classy and tasteful.
Most women would like to be perceived as mysterious and a symbol of sensuality and in my opinion this one piece of classic garment manages to pull that off with so much elan!
Many, many adjectives come to mind…head-turner, enticing, perfect to flaunt those full curves, ‘Oomph’ factor, a potent mixture of poise and grace. You can never, ever go wrong with the Saree!! It’s a timeless fashion staple and a must-have in your wardrobe
Interested in joining us on one of our trips to India? Click here to learn more!
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to planning, coordinating and curating customized group tours to hand-picked destinations. As an experienced travel planner, Carol’s customized itineraries, specialized tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences create memorable journeys for her small groups of singles, couples, and solo travelers, seeking exceptional trips into the culture and cuisine of destinations around the world. Spring and Fall bookings invite travelers to taste delectable local cuisine, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Sicily, Spain, Ireland and India.
Delectable Destinations…Delivering your dream trip. For more information & 2020 trips log onto www.delectabledestinations.com