Weaving in India has a very long tradition, predating the coming of the Aryans. People wore woven cloth during the Indus Valley Civilization in the 2nd millennium B.C. Weaving is technique of fabric production. It consists of intertwining of two separate yarns or threads at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. Those two threads are called warp and the weft. Fabric is usually woven on a loom which is a device that holds the warp threads in place while weft is woven through them. There are also other methods of weaving. The method where the warp and weft interlace with each other is called the weave. The basic types of weave are plain weave, satin weave and twill which give different patterns and textures of fabrics for different uses.
Indian handloom made its way to ancient Egypt and Rome! Vividly dyed textile fabric from India was so prized that it adorned the royalty as far back as over a thousand years B.C.!! First popular fiber in ancient Egypt was flax, which was replaced by wool around 2000 BC. By the beginning of counting the time weaving was known in all the great civilizations. Early looms need one or two persons to work on them. Bible refers to loom and weaving in many places.
Skip a few thousand years, and Indian weaving skills reached their pinnacle during the Mughal era. Indian weavers excelled with both silk and cotton. Varieties of weaves – intricate brocade (use of silver and gold thread- “zari”), ikkat (tie-and dye of the yarn before weaving), and zardozi embellishment (embroidery using zari with precious and semi-precious stones) were churned out by Indian weavers. But the pride of place belonged to the famous muslin, a fabric so fine that a 6 yard sari could pass through a ring.
The Muslin was the first weaving style that firmly entrenched the Bengal Handloom weaver into the international hall of fame, so to speak. Nobody else in the world could weave so fine a fabric as the muslin, and nobody else can till date. Weaving with 600-count yarn is child’s play for the skilled muslin weaver even to this day – and that means 600 twists in one inch of hand-spun yarn! No spinning machine can twist such fine yarn – and no mechanized loom can handle anywhere near the fine yarn used to weave the muslin. The yarn would snap before an inch has been woven.
Industrial revolution switched weaving from hand to machine. John Kay invented the flying shuttle in 1733 and enabled weaving of wider fabric as well as made it faster. The first factories for weaving were built in 1785. Jacquard loom was invented in about 1803. It could be programmed with punch cards which enabled faster weaving of more complicated patterns. White fabrics were printed mechanically with natural dyes at first with synthetic dyes coming in the second half of the 19th century.
The saree is one of the oldest form of clothing on planet earth, with references of it dating back centuries — and it’s still going strong. What’s surprising is that most of the western world is unaware of the great significance behind this piece of women clothing.
In the history of Indian clothing the saree is traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which flourished during 2800–1800 BC around the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. ... The earliest known depiction of the saree in the Indian subcontinent is the statue of an Indus Valley priest wearing a drape. sometimes spelled saree, is a draped dress, created from a single piece of fabric five to nine yards long, which is wrapped around a woman's body in a variety of ways.
The year is 4000BC. The place is Hastinapura Draupadi, the wife of the 5 Pandavas, the erstwhile rulers of Indraprastha , has been put up as a stake in a game of dice against the Kauravas .The dice rolls, and the Pandavas lose. Draupadi has been won by the Kauravas. Not a part of the game, Draupadi is dragged to the court by Dushasan — the second eldest in the royal line of the Kauravas.
The elders & the king of Hastinapura turn a blind eye to Draupadi’s protests of the legality of her being used as a stake in the game. On the other hand, the evil Kauravas have their own agenda. The eldest of the Kauravas orders Dushasan to disrobe Draupadi to quench his thirst for revenge, as they technically owned her now.And here’s where a miracle takes place — no matter how hard Dushasan tries, an unending stream of cloth continues to cover & protect the dignity of Draupadi — quee n of the Pandavas.
The above is a scene from the Mahabharata, the grand epic of ancient India. That cloth that covered Draupadi is what was (and is) known as the saree
Over the past 6 centuries, a lot has changed in the world. Fashion trends keep on changing — infact, what was considered fashionable in the 70's of the west is no longer considered fashionable today. In India, there have been thousands of invasions, conquests by foreign rulers, changes in cultures & rulers — and then some.
Notwithstanding the shifts that have taken place in India (and the world) over the last 6000+ years, the inimitable saree is still going strong. Majority of the women in India still wear sarees, and it is considered as the primary piece of clothing even in modern wardrobes.
And still, very few people in the west know about the saree. Which is really a tragedy. Infact, on the day of writing this, Wikipedia’s article on ancient forms of clothing doesn’t even have a mention of the saree.
Our saree is a gift of pure Hindu tradition. Saree always has a pallu (Free end of a saree, normally worn over the shoulder and head). Women never let it fall from their head, and if it does fall, it remains draped around the shoulder. Women fasten the pallu to the waist and get involved in their work. How can one describe the greatness of the pallu ? The infant in the cradle longs to be taken in the mother’s pallu. Hence, for an infant, the mother’s pallu is like Parameshwar (Supreme God). When the child grows up, it holds its mother’s pallu and learns to walk. The child uses its mother’s pallu to wipe its mouth. After the daughter’s marriage, the father requests the bridegroom’s parents – ‘Accept my daughter in your pallu’. Hence, the saree and the pallu are a symbol of our Hindu culture. Western attire such as jeans, T-shirt, chudidar, salwar-kurta, have become an inseparable part of the present day Hindu woman’s lifestyle. Conversely, the use of traditional Bharatiya attire such as nine-yard saree, which infact is the identity of the Hindu culture, has been restricted to womenfolk in the villages. Any attire unknowingly influences the attitude of the wearer. The prevalent rajasik-tamasik attire such as chudidar, jeans, etc. make a woman impulsive and inclined towards worldly pleasures. Conversely, sattvik attire such as the six-yard or a nine-yard saree, make a woman virtuous and Dharma-abiding. Abiding by Dharma increases devotion and bhav (Spiritual emotion) unto God and the individual begins to move on the path of God-realisation. Another disadvantage of wearing rajasik-tamasik attire is an increase in the possibility of the distress due to negative energies for the wearer. In contrast, sattvik attire becomes an effective weapon in the battle against negative energies.
Every subject in Hindu culture is based on the science of Spirituality. In our culture, there is a tradition of wearing a nine-yard saree. In the earlier times, women used to wear nine-yard sarees only; but today, women find it inconvenient wearing it. Therefore, they have started wearing six-yard sarees. Today too, women in villages and some urban women wear nine-yard sarees during various worship rituals. Depending on the different States to which a woman belongs, the pallu of a six-yard saree is draped on the left or the right shoulder.
In this article we will discuss the importance of saree and the various benefits that one can obtain by wearing it.
For women to conserve and nurture Hindu culture, it is necessary to always wear a saree. ‘In Hindu Dharma, extreme importance has been given to why a woman should wear a saree. Today, women do not wear sarees, but wear clothes as per the western culture; as a result, the future generation will have an impression that wearing clothes as per the western culture is the norm. To conserve and nurture Hindu culture, all women should always wear sarees as an expression of their pride in Dharma. If this is not possible, they are requested to at least wear sarees during festivals, celebrations, religious rituals and auspicious days as per the Hindu lunar calendar.
1.Inculcation of humility
2.Generation of modesty
3.Increase in the stability of the mind and concentration of the chitta (Subconscious mind)
4.Awakening of maternal feelings
5.Feeling that a saree is the symbol of a Deity
6.Development of bhav
7.Increase in self-confidence
8.Increase in Kshatravrutti (Attitude of a warrior)
9.Increase in introversion and reduction in extroversion due to awareness of one’s true form
By wearing a saree, the person imbibes Chaitanya and sattvikta in the environment; these are retained in a circular form, and the person benefits from these for a longer duration. Though the sarees made from synthetic yarn are comfortable to wear, they have less ability to absorb sattvikta and Chaitanya. Conversely, sarees made from natural fibres, such as cotton and silk yarns, have a greater ability to absorb sattvikta and Chaitanya.
such as the saree
4A Due to sattvik attire such as the saree, mutual bonds between individuals are not limited to the psychological and intellectual levels, but they get a spiritual foundation and the bonds are created at the spiritual level.
4B.When we look at a person wearing a sattvik attire, it creates a positive effect on the various chakras (Spiritual energy centres in the subtle body) of our body, and as a result, we experience pleasant sensations. This results in spiritual healing and thus reduces the manifestation of the mantrik.
4C.Viewing a sattvik scene affects us spiritually and influences our mind and intellect. When we look at an individual wearing sattvik clothing such as a saree, dhoti etc., waves of Shakti ( Divine Energy), Anand (Bliss) and Shanti (Peace) emitting from these are registered in the mind, and they leave a positive impression on the mind.
Wearing a saree results in spiritual healing; thus, reducing the distressing energy covering around the body and the distress caused by negative energies.
Those facing distress due to negative energies have negative thoughts about wearing a saree. Since the saree is sattvik, when a woman who has distress due to negative energies wears it, the negative energies in her body are distressed because of its sattvikta. Hence, the negative energies induce negative thoughts in such a woman’s mind about wearing a saree, and manage to somehow make them feel like never wanting to wear a saree.
(Women who have negative energy distress get negative thoughts about the saree and hence, refrain from wearing a saree and wear non-sattvik clothes instead; as a result, they experience increase in their distress due to negative energies. Thus, even though the women experience difficulties, they should attempt wearing a saree with the firm conviction that wearing a saree will reduce their distress; this will certainly help reduce their distress.)
Due to lack of practice [of wearing a saree], it may be initially difficult to work, but after a few days of practice one does not find it difficult. If this were not to be so, no woman would have ever worn a saree. In the earlier times, women would wear nine-yard sarees. Modern women do not like to wear a nine-yard saree. It is a matter of practice. One should remember that the above information has revealed immeasurable spiritual benefits of wearing a saree. Therefore, till the habit of wearing a saree develops, why should one worry if there are some difficulties initially ?
Remember, sarees have a beautiful history behind them. If you’re thinking of wearing one, the benefits are many — but it’s not easy. Sarees do take a little extra time to be draped but it has a matchless comparison when it comes to beauty, as they are the replica of the rich Indian heritage.