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.
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:
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.
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.