Interesting facts to know about Bengal Sarees

India is among the richest countries when it comes to tradition and cultural heritage, as evidenced by the celebration mood that kicks in during Indian festivals and occasions. All of these are celebrated with plenty of pomp and colour, as that is something that unites every Indian regardless of where they come from – that every event must be celebrated in a grand way. There are also plenty of cuisines, clothes and rituals, and you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to these items.

There is another thing that unites every Indian though – the eternal love of sarees. Every Indian woman will hold the classic 9-yard garment close to their hearts, and they are a symbol of womanhood in the culture, not just a garment to tie around the waist. There are numerous kinds of sarees with every region of the country having its own take on the garment.

Among the many regions that the saree comes from, the Bengali sarees are among the most iconic. You can find these sarees at a physical store, or you can buy Bengali sarees online with a variety of options. They have been featured plenty of times in Bollywood productions, and are very popular even on the red carpet and various festivals. They do have plenty of stories behind them, as well, as we will see in the facts below.

Origin

The most popular types of Bengali sarees are the Tant and Baluchari types. The Tant sarees came into widespread use during the Mughal era (1526-1857). In fact, they were so popular, that even the British tried to ruin the businesses that made them, but they did not succeed.

On the other hand, the Baluchari saree got the name from the village they originated from, Baluchari, back in the 18th Century.

The main places it originates from

These sarees are worn all over the state and the country, but the main hubs of production are mainly the towns of Murshidabad, Nadia and Hooghly.

The main method that is used in their making is traditional, using handlooms, which makes the outcome to be a colourful and lightweight saree that is highly popular.

Other places the sarees come from include:

Jalgapuri – mainly cotton sarees
Darjeeling – coarse cotton sarees
Uttar Dinajipur – fine cotton and Tant sarees
Koch Bihar – coarse and fine cotton sarees, Tant sarees
Purulia – Tussar sarees
Bardhaman – Jamdani and tussar sarees

The making process

Even though the main method used to make them was through traditional means, there are some changes that have happened over time that have brought more eco-friendly methods in the making process. For instance, the use of silk is regulated now, so as to avoid harvesting silkworms that are not mature enough, and the use of colours has also changed in the manufacturing process.

Their use in occasions

The silk or cotton that has been in use in these sarees makes them a symbol of very high status, especially the silk ones. They showcase plenty of elegance and style, with the cotton ones like the Tant being very lightweight and airy, making them suitable for the hotter months of the year.

How to identify a Bengali handloom saree

You are likely to find the process of distinguishing Bengali sarees from other sarees to be challenging, unless you come from a traditional family that is quite conversant in the clothes and culture of west Bengal. It becomes even more difficult to distinguish the different types of Bengali sarees, such as a Jamdani, Korial, muslin, and so on, because they look very similar from a distance.

This makes it important to know the distinguishing aspects of each west Bengal saree, which are:

  1. Jamdani – these are lightweight sarees that are finely woven. They originally came in pure cotton, but now come in blends of silk and cotton to give them a glossy finish. Their motifs, interestingly, appear to float due to the fabric being almost transparent.
  2. Tant – they have an airy and light texture due to the use of cotton as their main material. They are also suitable for everyday wear. They have a decorative pallu, thick border, and a plain body, and feature artistic motifs such as paisley and floral patterns.
  3. Muslin – these are ultra-fine sarees, which come in a sheer fabric, and have a shiny texture. The motifs are woven in a similar way to a Jamdani saree, but they are also quite expensive because of the weaving process, which is quite laborious and needs highly skilled workers.
  4. Baluchari – this is among the most beautiful Bengali saree types. The pallu and borders are very elaborate, and the weavings show various religious texts and historical epics. In addition, the weaving is done in colours that contrast the base colour of the saree. Interestingly, the most popular colours that are used for these sarees are purple and red. Along with Tant sarees, they also have quite bright colours, which make them stand out easily.
  5. Garad – are sarees made from pure silk, and have an off-white or plain white body along with a striped pallu and a simple red border (though the border can also come in other colours).
  6. Korial – this is considered to be a grander version of the Garad saree, as its silky texture is richer and the motifs are more intricate and ornamental.
  7. Tussar – the silk itself has a gold sheen, and the sarees will usually be in shades of honey, cream, tawny or beige, and can go through dyeing to attain brighter colours. The borders are very decorative, while the pallu motifs look similar to those of Jamdani and Tant sarees.
  8. Murshidabad silk – the silk is very high quality and lightweight, making them popular as casual and formal wear.

Other interesting facts

Other facts include:
• The Tant saree is 6 yards long
• The Baluchari sarees are 5 yards in length, and their width is 42 inches
• Many Bengali sarees will be woven in purple, white or purple
• The sarees are designed for specific draping methods specific to west Bengal
• Bengali sarees tend to favour the use red and white. This is because red symbolizes fertility, while white symbolizes purity.

Final thoughts
Bengali sarees are quite distinct in their beauty, and are all about exploring the various possibilities of traditional handloom patterns. Owning them is a chance to enjoy their exotic nature and experiment with new styles and looks, while enjoying the cultural heritage that west Bengal has to offer.

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