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Saree – A Unifying feature of India

The word saree originated from a Sanskrit word ‘Sati’ which means a strip of cloth and the word. ‘Sattika’ is mentioned in the early Buddhist literature.

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Image: Wikimedia commons

By Akanksha Sharma

Saree is one of the unifying features of India. The image of Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India dressed in starched white saree serving as a powerful leader in a male dominating society is very popularly known around the world. On the contrary, the picture of a woman from a weaker section of society, thin, poor and wearing a dirty, stained saree and carrying an undernourished child whose legs are wrapped around her waist is also a familiar image. These two images represent a very different culture and background. But, they share a very common cultural feature of India ,i.e., Saree. Saree is usually a long unstitched piece of cloth, generally is 6 yard long. It is paired with a blouse that covers the upper part of the body and underneath it, a petticoat is worn for tucking in the pleats of saree and to hold the saree in place. The draping style is different in different states of India: It comes in different fabrics, colours, and designs.

Origin of Saree

Saree worn during Indus Valley Civilization- Wikimedia commons
Saree worn during Indus Valley Civilization– Wikimedia commons

It is one of the oldest civilisation of India. In the history, the evidence is found that a long piece of unstitched cloth was used to be worn to cover themselves. The word saree originated from a Sanskrit word ‘Sati’ which means a strip of cloth and the word ‘Sattika’ is mentioned in the early Buddhist literature. Later the word was evolved into the word ‘saree’. A statue of a female has been recovered from the Indus Valley civilization, draped in saree. Earlier, Saree used to be worn in a manner so, that it divides the two legs, forming a trouser like look. This style was popular among the temple dancers to aid them in their movements. The early statues of Goddesses depicted that saree was worn in a ‘fishtail’ which was tied at the waist, and covered up the legs. During that era, the upper part was also covered with the saree. Later with the arrival of Muslims ghagra and the petticoat was discovered and clothes were stitched. And later blouse was discovered. Since then, saree has evolved lot.

Styles of draping saree

According to the researchers, there are more than 80 ways to wear a saree. However, the most popular and favoured style is Nivi style. This style originates from Andhra Pradesh, Nivi drape starts with one end of the sari tucked into the petticoat then the cloth is wrapped around the lower body once, and the loose end is draped over the shoulder called pallu and the rest of the cloth are divided into pleats and tucked into the waistband of the petticoat under the navel.

 

Nivi style of wearing Saree- Wikimedia commons
Nivi style of wearing Saree– Wikimedia commons
Maharashtrian Saree- Wikimedia commons
Maharashtrian Saree– Wikimedia commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Orissa, It is worn without pleats and is wrapped around the lower body in anti- clockwise direction and the pallu is wrapped around the body over the left shoulder. In Kerala, a two-piece saree having a decorative golden coloured border is popular. Among Maharashtrians, the draping style is similar to male Maharashtrians dhoti, and forms a trouser like attire. There are more ways to wear is differently and each state has its own traditional style of draping saree.

In Modern era, it is also worn professionally. The dress code of air hostesses on Air India flights is also saree. Many Politicians wear saree as it being traditional clothing and it also covers their modesty. Saree is also the wedding attire of women. And it is paired with a lot of old jewellery during a wedding. Instead of that, a lehenga is also worn by women. During festivals and different occasions, mostly people prefer wearing saree to give a more traditional look.

Saree is not only famous in India, but also popular among women of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. In Bangladesh, it is the national wear of women. Most married women wear it as a regular dress or wear it occasionally. Manipuri saree is the most popular saree among Bangladeshi women.

Nepali woman wearing Saree- Wikimedia commons
Nepali woman wearing Saree– Wikimedia commons

In Pakistan, Saree is worn by Pakistani Hindus and is commonly worn in metropolitan cities during important occasions and also wear it formerly. In Sri Lanka and Nepal, saree is worn both professionally and as a daily-wear. It is one of the cultural symbols that unites us together, even after having a very diverse culture. It enhances the beauty of women and also adds to their modesty. After all it the most sensuous, glamorous and an all-time wear for women.

Akanksha Sharma is a student of Journalism in New Delhi. She currently works as an intern in Newsgram. Twitter @meganme456

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Saree is truly the best among all Indian attires!

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    And also the most known and unique Indian attire

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    It reflects our culture and how attached we are to it!

Next Story

Three Projects Help India to Stop its Share of Water to Pakistan after Pulwama

The waters of the western rivers - the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab - averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan.

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Picture Courtesy:-www.economylead.com

The government has envisaged three projects to give intent to its decision to stop its share of water from three eastern rivers of the Indus system – the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej – from going to Pakistan.

The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack though the Union cabinet had approved implementation of one of the key projects – Shahpurkandi dam – in December last year.

The waters of the western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan except for “specified domestic, non-consumptive and agricultural use permitted to India”, according to a treaty.

India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river (RoR) projects on the western rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation, is unrestricted.

pakistan, india, water ban
However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. VOA

To utilise the waters of the Eastern rivers, India has constructed the Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi. These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project have helped India utilise nearly the entire share (95 per cent) of the eastern river waters.

However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. The other two projects are Ujh multipurpose project and the second Ravi Beas link below Ujh.

Here’s the reality check of the three projects:

Shahpurkandi Project: It aims to utilise the waters coming from powerhouse of Thein dam in order to irrigate 37,000 hectares of land in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab by generating 206 MW of power.

The project was scheduled to be completed by September 2016. However, following a dispute between the two states, work was suspended in August 2014 but they reached an agreement last September and the construction work has now resumed with the Centre monitoring its progress. The central government had in December last year announced assistance of Rs 485 crore for the project and it would be completed by June 2022.

 

India, pakistan, pulwama, water ban
The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack. VOA

The project will create irrigation potential of 5,000 hectare in Punjab and 32,173 hectare in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

The total balance cost of pending work in ShahpurKandi Dam project is estimated Rs 1,973.53 crore (irrigation component: Rs 564.63 crore, power component Rs1408.90 crore).

The Shahpurkandi Project was initially approved by the Planning Commission in November, 2001. Revised costs were approved, but there was delay in its execution both because of lack of funds with Punjab and inter-state issues with Jammu and Kashmir.

An agreement was finally reached between the two states under the aegis of Water Resources Ministry in September last year.

Ujh multipurpose project: Construction of the Ujh multipurpose project will create a storage of about 781 million cubic metres of water on Ujh, a tributary of Ravi, for irrigation and power generation and provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 hectares in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 5,850 crore and the Central assistance of Rs 4,892.47 crore on works portion of irrigation component as well as the special grant is under consideration. The project is yet to be implemented and it will take about six years for completion.

Second Ravi Beas link below Ujh: The project has been planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through Ravi by constructing a barrage across it for diverting water through a tunnel link to the Beas basin.

The project is expected to utilise about 0.58 MAF of surplus waters below Ujh dam by diverting the same to the Beas basin.

 

india, pakistan, water share, pulwama
Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Wikimedia

The water distribution treaty between India and Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 to use the water available in the Indus system of rivers originating in India.

 

ALSO READ: IOC Cancels Places for 2020 Tokyo Games from India after it Refused Visas to Pakistan

The Indus system comprises Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers. The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan.

Under the treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of the three eastern rivers, averaging around 33 million acre feet (MAF), were allocated to India for exclusive use.  (IANS)