6 Traditional Ways I Love to Drape my Saree

To most women of Indian origin, like me, the Saree is not just a piece of clothing but a sentiment in itself. We grow up dreaming and drooling over the idea of draping ourselves in that 6-yard long piece of fabric which manages to accentuate our beauties, celebrate our bodies and adorn our minds. Though traditionally an everyday wear, the Saree has slowly evolved into more of a sophisticated item of clothing saved for special occasions and festivals, especially among the elite and educated in India.

I have always been an ardent connoisseur of the Saree and have loved draping myself in it every single time. Though there are many traditional and modern ways to drape the saree, and I love experimenting with each of them, some draping styles are very complex and can feel overwhelming, while others just blend into the modern fashion ethics like they were conceptualised to impress for eternity. Here are 6 of my favourite traditional draping styles:

1. Athpourey: The traditional saree draping style of West Bengal(India) and also of Bangladesh (former East Bengal), Athpourey looks adorable during festivals. Glamourised by the Sanjay Leela Bhansali classic ‘Devdas’ and endorsed by the plethora of Bengali beauties of Bollywood, the Bong drape renders a subtle look of authority and aristocracy onto its wearer. If you really want the traditional look, go for the very typical Garad Saree or the ornamental Korial Saree, legendarily made in Murshidabad District of West Bengal. This looks like a very difficult drape, but it is actually very simple to wear and carry. If you are a first-time wearer, this may be an ideal style to try as it has lesser pleats in the waist and feels more like a skirt!

2. Mekhala Chador or Mekhala Sador: When I asked Saree Icon Chinna Dua for her favourite draping style, she instantly replied: ‘I love the Mekhala Sador’! Another very unique way of draping the Saree, the Mekhala Sador style originated in the gorgeous mountain state of Assam. This is a draping style, which uses two different pieces of garment to tuck and pleat them together and look elegant! My first ever Saree was a beautiful Mekhala Sador my mother handed me down when I was getting ready for a fashion show! I ended up not just walking the ramp that day, but also being crowned the Miss Traditional Beauty of my college! At 17, it felt ecstatic! Try the Mekhala Sador, my dear fashionistas. It is a statement in itself.

3. Kodagu Style: Originated in Coorg in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka, the Kodagu style includes a matching bandana or headscarf which traditional Coorg women wear with their Saree. This style looks robust and enables the women to brave through the mountainous terrains of the little hilly town of Coorg. This drape is so sturdy, women even climb trees in them! Whenever I have seen someone wear the Kodagu Style Saree, I sense an assertion of freedom and power that is so deeply embedded in the idea of womanhood. There is also a bizarre legend associated with the Kodagu Drape. It is said that one of the ancient sages of India ‘Agastya’ was trying to stop his beloved wife Cauvery from becoming a river! But Cauvery was a strong and independent woman, who had a mind of her own and had decided that she would like to be a river and serve her people. So while she went on to shape-shift into a river, Agastya kept childishly tugging on to Cauvery’s saree. In this tryst, the pleats on her saree were pushed to the back, giving rise to the Kodagu draping style! Women of Coorg wear this Saree to remind themselves that nothing can stop them from doing what their heart says! (Or so I hope.) Though I have not yet tried this draping style, I can’t wait to feel some Kodagu power flowing in my saree!

4. Kashta Style: Traditionally worn by women in the western coast of the Indian states of Maharashtra and Goa, this is the Konkani edition of the traditional Nauvari Drape. The Kashta Style is inspired by the male dhoti and was designed for warrior women to be ever ready to go to war. The brave Rani Lakshmibai wore the Kashta Style drape. It needs a unique 9-yard saree, unlike the typical 6 yards, and is draped to look like pleated Alladin pants in the bottom. The Kashta Style has made a fashion comeback as though since we saw the spectacular dance sequence of Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone in the movie Bajirao Mastani - both styled in the Kashta drape! Being a yoga practitioner, I love the fact that this draping style is extremely Yoga-friendly too. I am looking forward to being able to do a refreshing Yoga routine in my Kashta drape someday soon. What about you?

5. Seedha Pallu: The Seedha Pallu drape of Gujarat(India) is easy and like the name suggests ‘seedha’ or straightforward! It is a great draping style if your saree has a rich shoulder-piece (pallu) you want to showcase. Here the shoulder cloth is brought forward and adorns your torso, instead of hanging over your shoulders. This style is great for summers or if you are planning to dance at a wedding! It is airy, comfy and easy to manage. Try a Bandhej, Gharchola or Patola weave in this draping style for a traditional look, or go for a rich zardozi design for the Bollywood feels!

6. The Nivi Style: My favourite! The Nivi style is so popular that many people think that it is ‘the Indian Saree draping style’! But unlike popular notion, it originated among the royal women of the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. This draping style is also so versatile that it has given rise to many modern draping sales like the belted drape, the retro style, the one pallu drape, the pant style, the dhoti style and the neck drape. When I asked Fashion Blogger Isha Priya Singh of Desi Drapes, she spoke of her fondness of the neck drape version of Nivi. “My favourite draping style is the ‘Nivi’ but with the pallu brought to the front like a muffler. It’s the most fuss-free style.” she shared.

What’s your favourite Saree draping style?

© 2020 by Nidhi Chaitanya