Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tying a Saree

In the heart of the historical part of Delhi, neighbouring the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid and the colonial St. James Church, Nina Kochhar offers a genuine home-stay in quiet, green, scenic, secure, low-rise surroundings 

At the elite Oberoi Apartment complex, where her only guest room ensures that YOU ARE THE VIP at any given time. 

First time visitors to India are constantly commenting on the range of our Indian clothes, especially when I am dressed in my saree.......so here is how it works!


While on training in a Denmark hotel, I’d paid a courtesy morning call to the Managing Director, ofcourse draped in my elegant grey silk saree.  From there, I was scheduled to .
work in the kitchen for the day, and incidentally as it was my first day he also invited me to lunch with his other guest,   the Countess of the Savoy Hotel in London.  He asked what clothes I planned to work in, and was quite astounded when I said the saree I was in .To their questions as to how six yards of fabric never got undone the entire day, no matter what one’s activity, I was able to show as much astonishment about the Danish Open Sandwich which could be sent as part of a picnic lunch without disintegrating!

So, how is it done?  Well, there are three distinct parts to a saree being worn.  Besides the saree, one has to have a blouse (or choli as it is called), usually custom-tailored for one’s own body size and to one’s own design.  It’s length generally finishes at the rib-cage, it’s sleeves, classically, are just above the elbow and it is fitted close around the chest.  It could match or contrast with the saree.  Most silk sarees have an attached blouse piece which has been woven on the same loom and with the same threads as the saree so that there is a dead match.   The third item is an ankle-length  petticoat, a fitted skirt, tied with a draw-string around the waist.

There is a “pallav” (pronounced “palloo”) end of the saree, and the other end.  A broad ribbon of fabric is handstitched onto the bottom edge of the saree to provide weight.  This is called “the fall”, and is bought ready-made in exact matching fabric from “fall, petticoat and blouse” shops which stock every nuance of every shade, so that the match is almost perfect.!

Leaving the “pallav” on a chair, or bed, the “winding” starts at the front centre of the skirt, with the top end of the saree being tucked in at the waist in an anti-clockwise direction.  The pallav is then bunched together neatly, taken under the left armpit, right around the bottom, emerging under one’s right arm,  and thrown over one’s left shoulder.  The length of the pallav is adjusted to the length of one’s dropped left arm, right upto the end of one’s fingers.

Returning back to centrestage i.e. the front-middle,  using the outspread left hand, the saree is pleated, then tucked into the front, with the pleats opening on the left side.  This enables one to walk, and even stride freely.  Safety pins are a great help in keeping the shoulder fabric in place.  Most Indians never use any, any, whereas models and airline crew use anywhere from 4 – 6 pins.  Be careful though, these tend to tear the fine silk fabric.

Voila!  la saree!

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