India is home to countless saree wearing cultures and traditions. The importance of an Indian bridal saree can be seen through its celebrated lineage panned across centuries and communities. It goes much beyond a piece of fabric and continues to hold a significant place,seeped in our rich heritage.
A bride wearing a traditional Banarasi tissue sari in the 1960s. Source: Woven Textiles of Varanasi by Jaya Jaitly
Traditionally, the saree worn by the bride on the wedding day held together cultural beliefs and was carefully blended with symbolic hues and auspicious motifs. For instance, a Banarasi only in shades of kumkum red, fuchsia pink, orange or an elaborate gold brocade sari combined with a sheer tissue veil, was worn by brides. In South India, traditionally, brides opted for pure mulberry silk Kanjeevaram sarees in shades of maroon and deep reds with distinct temple borders in gold zari. A Malayali bride’s attire was considered incomplete without the heritage Kasavu saree woven in cream and gold zari, reserved specifically for auspicious occasions.
A traditional Assamese bride almost always wore a cream hued Mekhla Chadar woven in Muga silk with gold and silver zari motifs, given to the bride by the groom’s family. A pristine white shade remained closely associated to traditional Parsi weddings where the bride would wear an ornate white embroidered saree known as Parsi Gara. A traditional Paithani saree in yellow and deep green worn in the nauvari style was symbolic of the Maharashtrian bride’s marital status on her wedding day.
Left: A traditional Maharashtrian Bride; Right: A bride in a white lace sari for her Parsi wedding
As the ties of culture and traditions loosened over time, the traditional bridal sarees became a rare sight. In a time where celebrities dictate bridal inspirations and subsequent “trending sarees”, we all marveled and lusted over the traditional Kanjeevaram worn by actor, Deepika Padukone for her Konkani wedding or the quintessential Red Banarasi on Anushka Sharma for her reception night. While these sarees may as well be perceived as the “flavor of the season” now, they go back to a glorious history which has stood the test of time.
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