If there is any particular range of sarees that I have been hearing throughout my life, it is about the Banarasi silk sarees. Net sarees, chiffon sarees, organza sarees, jacquard sarees and many other type of sarees peak for a period of time in popularity amongst women and then they dip and lie dormant for a considerable amount of time before rising again to become popular, but the sarees that have ruled the roost and held their order since ages are the Kanjeevaram sarees from the South and the Banarasi sarees from the North.
I have heard so many women, grandmothers and mothers talk about their lovely “booti” full Banarasi sarees that they had received in their marriages. Banarasi sarees with precious golden and silver zari works are even passed down the generations just like precious jewellery.
Banarasi sarees are made in a city called Varanasi in Northern India, which is also known as Banaras. Banarasi sarees are highly valued for their intricate gold and silver work and lovely designs. Since these sarees have a lot of zari work, they are usually very heavy. These handloom sarees usually take many days to months to be made by the weavers of Banaras.
Banarasi sarees are a perfect amalgamation of Persian and Indian designs. Banarasi sarees are usually worn during weddings, festivals, and other such festivities because such sarees carry a lot of aura and the occasion to wear them should be important as well.
Out of all the great things that have thrived in Varanasi, like the rich culture, high standard of education, tradition, spirituality, Banarasi sarees and handlooms have held their place. Vedic scriptures have recorded silk and brocade manufacturing in Banaras since the period before mughals. There are even mentions of textile trade with Varanasi amongst other countries and continents. It is claimed that the textile and weaving industry in Banaras thrived way back in the Maurya period also. There are no seals to confirm textile or silk trade during that period, but the texts do mention silk and gold fabric in them, which does point out that Banarasi fabric was famous even then.
Banarasi work is not only appreciated on sarees, but also on salwar and other ethnic pieces of dressing as well. Take a look at the kora silk material here.
You can easily spot a Banarasi saree/piece from the trademark flower and leaf motifs as well as the “bootis” that are made on the fabric. The fabric used usually ranges from silk, organza, georgette, to pure cotton.
The typical Bengali bridal dress is a Benarasi silk red saree known as benaroshi, which is rich in zari work.
Benarasi sarees are known for their grandeur and sheer opulence. The trademark banarasi saree is the one that is made of golden/silver zari border and “booti” or small motifs that cover the entire saree. Banarasi sarees are usually heavy. The pallu of Benarasi sarees are very grand and full of intricate designs. The pallu of Banarasi sarees are their highlight.
Owing to the popularity of Banarasi sarees, a lot of fake manufacturing units came into the business and labeled their goods under “Banarasi sarees” tag with the original weavers losing their business, but a sort of patent has been passed, where no other saree except the ones that are made in Varanasi and some other chosen districts can be labeled as a “banarasi saree.”
New Trends in Banarasi Fabric:
Of course, over the period of time, Banarasi sarees have also undergone various mutations and permutations and the latest fad is to wear the standard Banarasi blouse with simple chiffon and organza sarees.
Another trend which is on the rise is the Banarasi lehenga saree.
The female staff at Taj Group of Hotels wears the Banarasi saree:
There are lots of Banarasi weaves made for men also.
Celebrities Sporting the Banarasi Fare:
Each Indian celebrity worth her salt has flaunted her Banarasi’ in one way or the other, take a look.
Vidya Balan at filmfare awards function:
Shenaz Treasurywala at the Delhi Belly party:
Actress Tapsee From South India:
Kareena Kapoor in a Banarasi bridal choli in the Sangini Diamond advertisement:
No one rocks it like Vidya Balan with Benarasi blouses. She is seen here, there, and everywhere in Banarasi blouses:
Nayanthara in a Banarasi Blouse:
Sridevi shows off her back in a Banarasi Blouse:
Deepika Padukone in Banarasi Blouses:
Sonakashi Sinha in a black number:
Another amazing way to wear the Banarasi handloom is to wear a Banarasi blouse with a sheer saree and it adds the glamour to any saree.
Some Other Benarasi Traditional Wear:
The world of Banarasi sarees and fabrics is endless and I had a great time digging out the treasures, hope you too enjoy seeing them. From the above list, if you think something is not exactly Banarasi, please do tell me.
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