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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

India: Sugar Mills, Distilleries under The Scanner of Special Task Force of UP Police for Links with Hooch Syndicates

Industrial alcohol allegedly used in hooch is distilled ethanol

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India, Sugar Mills, Distilleries
A few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Pixabay

As more than a hundred people died in ‘poisonous hooch’ tragedies in Uttar Pradesh during the past one year, a few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Working round the clock to bust ‘killer syndicates’ supplying cheap industrial alcohol to bootleggers and gangs involved in manufacturing of illicit liquor, STF has seized more than 10,000 litres of rectified spirit in raids across the state in the past one month.

Industrial alcohol allegedly used in hooch is distilled ethanol and is usually used in manufacturing of paints, fragrance, printing ink and coating. As it is cheaper, the liquor syndicates get it smuggled from distilled ethanol manufacturing units. On June 16, STF seized 5,750 litres of rectified spirit (high concentration alcohol) from the possession of a big time crime syndicate active in Lucknow and Kanpur.

The STF rounded up the kingpin, Suraj Lal Yadav, along with six other members of the gang. During interrogation it was discovered that Yadav was well-connected with some distilleries in Haryana. Large quantities of industrial alcohol was smuggled out of Haryana and pushed into hooch manufacturing dens in UP.

Concerned about frequents deaths in UP due to consumption of poisonous hooch, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched a statewide crackdown on illicit liquor manufacturing gangs after 21 people died in a hooch tragedy in Barabanki two months ago. The STF, considered the state’s premiere crime busting agency, subsequently geared up to intercept scores of tankers and private vehicles being pushed into UP from Delhi and Haryana.

India, Sugar Mills, Distilleries
A few sugar mills and distilleries have come under the scanner of the Special Task Force of the UP police. Pixabay

“The syndicate involved in smuggling of rectified spirit has spread its tentacles in the state. Even murders have taken place in disputes relating to the smuggling. But our raiding parties are determined to bust the gangs. Innumerable cases have been registered by us in the past one-and-a-half years,” said Amitabh Yash, Inspector General(IG) of STF.

Even though the STF, after rounding up the accused handed over the investigation of the case to the district police, the agency is said to have the most precise data on organised crime in North India.

“We seldom investigate the cases as it involves prolonged court work, so our main aim is focused on cracking heinous crimes, particularly organised by crime syndicates. At the moment, gangs involved in illicit trade of hooch are our target,” said Amitabh Yash, known for his skills in dealing with underworld operations and syndicate crimes. When asked whether a few officials of the excise department and a couple of distilleries could be linked with smugglers of rectified spirit, the IG said a report was given in this connection to the government.

While high excise duty makes liquor expensive, hooch, on the other hand, is available for less than Rs 20 per bottle. At places the rates are less than even Rs 10 per liter. A report, in connection with the Saharanpur hooch tragedy in February 2019 which took the lives of over 50 people, reveals that the quantity of rectified spirit mixed in the drink was so high that it had the effect of poison.

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The report says that rectified spirit was smuggled by criminal gangs which were hand-in-glove with local authorities.

“The gangs have links in distilleries and chemical factories from where industrial alcohol is smuggled out at a very cheap price. It is later re-packed in drums and transported to hideouts of manufacturers (of illicit liquor),” said a source in the police.

With widespread sale of hooch across UP, CM Yogi Adityanath has instructed DGP O.P. Singh to take stringent measures against the culprits and ensure that police secures conviction of those accused who are put on trial in cases of hooch smuggling or hooch-related deaths. (IANS)