Sarees came into existence during the Indus Valley Civilisation, the period ranging from 2800-1800 BC. Around this time dyes also began to be used for creating these sarees. With time sarees were being made of different materials like silk, cotton, Banasari, Kanchipuram, Gadwal, Paithani, Mysore, Uppada, Bagalpuri, Balchuri, Maheshwari and Bandhani amongst others.
Bandhani is a tied and dyed fashion cloth which is originally from Gujarat and has been a part of their culture for as long as anyone can remember. The word ‘Bandhani’ itself means ‘to be tied’ and true to its meaning it is tied up once it has been dyed. The dying is done using fingernails; thus, you can create a variety of designs with your hand. The dying part, as well, is done using natural colours and their hands. The Khatri community in Gujarat was the first to make use of this form of dyeing.
Although it is a speciality of Gujarat, it is also popular in the community of Punjab and Madhya Pradesh who are producing Bandhani themselves. Bandhani materials are usually created in the colours of red, green, blue and black. Since the prints are handmade, it can vary from dots to stripes to patterns. The patterns are called Leheriya, Mothra, Ekdali and Shikari depending on the print on it.
Bandhani sarees are a matter of pride for the women of Gujarat. It displays the community they belong to. It is believed that finer the material of the saree, the more expensive it is. The bandhani saree was first worn at a royal wedding; thus, began the journey of Bandhani sarees. It is a favourite of the women to be worn at the time of Navratri. Women and girls alike adorn Bandhani sarees as they make their way to dance to foot-tapping beats at Garba and dandiya gatherings. The making of a Bandhani usually depends upon the number of tie-ups in the fabric. The most intricate ones will consist of approximately 75,000 dots or tie-ups.
It is adorned by women across all occasions in Gujarat and Rajasthan right from birth to weddings. Bandhani, in a way, has a sacred connection when it comes to religious events. The elders in these families believe that Bandhani sarees bring in good luck and so at one point most brides used Bandhani patterns in their sarees for the same reason. The Gujarati Gharchola and the Panetar that is worn by the Gujarat bride has intricate Bandhani work on them. The colours used to make these sarees also have their meanings attached. The colour red represents marriage, whereas yellow means motherhood and green signifies fertility.
Bandhani as a garment tends to bleed when given a wash, so it is advised to dry clean them inside of the regular pattern of washing them. They also cannot take high heat; hence, it is essential to be careful with these sarees since ironing on high heat can ruin their texture and vibrancy. The central hub of Bandhani Sarees is in Ahmadabad followed by Surat and then Saurashtra. The sales reach an all-time peak during the wedding season and Navratri.
It is fascinating to watch the Bandhani saree being made using various items like kidney beans and coins to give it different patterns and designs. The makers of these sarees are easily distinguishable since they have tiny nails to help them provide the different patterns on these sarees. These sarees are also created in the southern areas of India called Sungudi or the Southern Bandhanis which is a light-weight cotton saree. These sarees are expensive and require a considerable number of people to create one, which is why this industry has begun to close down slowly.
The sarees come in a variety of patterns. The most basic ones being Ek Dali or Bundi, four dots are called as Chaubundi and seven are called as Satbundi. A few others are Boond and Kodi while patterns of leaves, flowers and trees are made using blocks and dots.
Bandhani sarees come in a variety of types known as Jhankaar Bandhani and Borjaal apart from the regular bleeding type of Bandhani. Jhankaar bandhani’s are usually very colourful and vibrant and does not incorporate light-coloured dots as those seen in others. They typically have darker shades like red or Maroon. Borjaal, on the other hand, is used as part of wedding ensembles, and they are fuller in terms of their appearance. The Marwari communities in India usually use this. These sarees are available in a variety of colours and is even possible in other cloth materials like georgette and silks.
The other two types are the Banarasi Bandhanis and the Gaji Silk Bandhani’s. Banarasi Bandhanis are made of pure georgette materials that are high in quality as well as price. Gaji Silk Bandhani’s, on the other hand, is made of high-quality silk material which even though doesn’t have the strength of cotton is usually mixed with polyesters.
You can accessorise these sarees using oxidized jewellery in the occasion of Navratri, and at other times you can use a single ornament over the saree so that the saree stands out on its own. Complete the look with bangles and earrings and vibrant footwear, and you are good to go! Bandhani’s were forgotten up until a few years ago when the trend came back in fashion. They have been modernized to suit today’s trends and choices and hence look chic while retaining their traditional design.