The colors, sounds, and flavors of India literally explode upon the senses of all its visitors. The wonderful Indian people display all manner of traditional clothing and fashion. Time and culture have transformed the art of wearing India's traditional dress into many different forms and styles. Sarees have been a part of Indian culture for 5000 years. Its longevity can be attributed to its simplicity, elegance and ease of wearing. Today you will have a chance to learn about two styles of dress from two different regions of India. From Andhra Pradesh we'll learn the Nivi style. From Gujarat we'll learn the Gujarati style. So, pour out some tea, relax and try these fun saree styles for variety.
Sitting low on the eastern coast of India is the celebrated state of Andhra Pradesh. This lovely area draws over 3 million visitors each year. The beautiful Nivi style of wrapping the saree originated here. The Nivi style is actually the most popular of the styles. It is necessary to have a properly fitting choli and petticoat with any style of wrapping. Begin the Nivi style by wrapping the material around the waist once in a counter- clockwise direction while tucking as you go. This step must be done with the plain end at the top while making sure that the bottom touches the floor but does not drag. Put the remaining material into your right hand and begin making the 5 inch pleats starting at the tuck. You will make about 10 pleats. Hold the finished pleats in your right hand to even them out. Now, tuck these into your tight fitting petticoat below the navel. Wrap the garment once more in a counter-clockwise fashion while tucking as you go. Pin the rest of the garment with the decorative end over your left shoulder. This decorative end is called the pallu and adds great elegance to your sarees when worn properly.
Now imagine yourself on the western coast of India, in one of the most diverse states in the country. Gujarat is that state well known as the homeland of Mahatma Gandhi and other legendary activists. Now imagine yourself at one of the more than 3000 fairs and festivals each year in Gujarat wearing a saree in the stunning Gujarati style. Here is how to bring that amazing look to life. Begin just as you would with the Nivi style by wrapping the material around your waist one time in a counter-clockwise direction and tucking it in so that the material just barely touches the floor. Fold the pleats while making sure that the folds are even. Tuck them in just below the navel. Then, wrap the rest of the material around the back and bring it forward over the right shoulder. Lastly, wrap the pallu around the back of the waist before pinning or tucking it. Sarees worn in this fashion are elegant and beautiful.
We have crossed the sub-continent in search of differing methods of wrapping a saree and found a great variety indeed. As we walked the crowded streets of each region we breathed in the distinctive images and sounds of lives full of traditions passed down through thousands of years. And we have benefited from those same traditions by joining in the fun of learning how to wear sarees.