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How to wear a sari video

February 23, 2007

I found this cute video on how to wear a saree when I was reading about the increasing popularity of the saree in Pakistan. For a long time, the saree was not approved of in Pakistan as it is considered a ‘Hindu’ garment. Perhaps because our Bollywood movies and TV serials are increasingly being aired across the border, the saree is catching on there. The Nation, a Pakistani newspaper has said:

Reviled as an ‘alien’ dress, especially during the 1980s as part of Zia’s “Islamisation” drive, when the conservatives and the clergy termed it “vulgar” and “revealing” because women wearing it expose their midriffs, the sari is making “a strong come back”

Actually sarees can be as revealing or not revealing, depending on the wearer. Conservative people from certain communities wrap it around themselves, hiding their bodies. In fact as the video shows it is possible to hide every bit of flesh if one wishes to. But in most parts of India women do not do this. Blouses for example have low back lines and necklines. Even middle class women dress this way, not necessarily those who are “fashionable”. And as for exposing the midriff, we don’t consider it “exposure.” A bit of the midriff showing in a saree is considered quite alright. The girl in the picture is showing a large part of her midriff, but this is not the norm. The sari is well suited to our hot weather. It is cool to wear in summer as it allows ventilation and one can cover the head to protect oneself from the harsh sun.

In the state of Maharashtra the traditional saree is nine yards long (called the navvari saree) but it is worn so that there is freedom of movement…the saree is similar to a trouser. This type of saree usually reveals a good part of the ankles and the freedom this gives enables women to work in the fields. In fact working class women tend to wear their sarees pretty high. Ofcourse the middle classes and higher classes wear this type of saree too, or rather used to. Now it is only the older generation who does so. For some reason this kind of saree is dying out amongst the higher classes. I think this is sad, as this saree allows far more freedom of movement to women that the ‘gol’ (round) saree which has become the norm today.

(The first photo of th e young woman is from the Wiki, and the last from cbmphotos. The woman in the purple navvari saree is taken by me on the streets of Mumbai and is copyrighted. )

Related Reading: Is the saree an immodest attire?

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2007 4:19 pm

    ladies and girl;s search ends here to were a saree.

    good post

  2. February 24, 2007 7:06 pm

    This is an interesting post. However, there are several variations in the way “pallu” is arranged. Gujuratis and Maharashtrians differ there. One brings the pallu from the front and the other brings it from the back.

    Next one should be about “how to shoot a wet sari scene for a Bollywood song sequence”.

  3. February 27, 2007 2:15 pm

    Zia’s Govt surely did banned Sari but that ban was limited to PTV. I remember my mum n Grandma wearing saree in the parties, specially in the eighties.

    I guess statisitcs are some time misleading, perhaps.

  4. February 27, 2007 2:24 pm

    and need i add the ban the french imposed on the hijab in universities where there wasnt a uniform restriction or more recently a british minister announcing “the hijab and veil provide a hindrance in effective interpersonal communication” and he maintains that to date. heh

    zia died about two decades ago. the current scenario is much different. try some of the pakistani neutral TV channels like Hum, Geo, Indus etc. For subscription, contact you cable operator 😀

  5. February 27, 2007 9:25 pm

    Interesting to hear a voice from Pakistan.
    Actually here in Mumbai we don’t get any channels from that side. I always wonder whats actually going on there, and I ocasionally read a blog (its on my blogroll) which gives me an idea.

  6. March 4, 2007 3:19 pm


    I like the article and I would like to take with all the links you have given inm our web site under the heading Sarees… I am also giving link to your blog

    Please permit


  7. March 4, 2007 8:36 pm

    As long as you give a link to my blog and my name as the author of the article, I have no problems.

  8. Abha Goyal permalink
    March 18, 2007 10:04 pm

    I would love to know information about tradition indian sarees-their weaves, designs, etc from various parts of India. their names, the speciality of each saree of India. If you have any information about it or guide to the right resources, would appreciate the same.


  9. March 18, 2007 10:14 pm

    Abha, it is unlikely that you will get all this from one place on the internet. However this information is available in a book. I don’t remember the name right now. Shall get back to you in a few days (I am traveling for the next few days) but in the meantime you could go to the best book shop in your city and ask if they have books on this.

  10. Pinky permalink
    May 28, 2007 10:12 pm


    Nice post Yes, it seems saris are really catching up in Pakistan these days


    You might want to check these blog posts for more information about Indian sarees –


  11. Jaya permalink
    September 23, 2007 1:04 pm

    Saree is getting popular in Pakistan partly because of the influence of Indian serials (soap operas as they call it in US).

    Another interesting saree website is Saree Dreams.

  12. October 7, 2007 8:37 am

    very interesting in rural India right from olden times dresses are functional and non discriminatory between sexes.
    ok blouse doesnt match sadra but the dhoti and nauwari are very similar in dress style and pattern and they are very comfortable —if u can just get accustomed to it

    yes during my solo treks i would be amazed to see those ghati women (nothing derogatory intended) climb the hills with ease that too with a load on their head while jeans wearing ibcds would huff and puff along !

  13. October 7, 2007 8:38 am

    and they expose a lot more curves including
    than the modern sari !!!

  14. vivchavan permalink
    October 30, 2007 12:04 pm

    rally nice post… its helpful for women and girls.
    sari is part of tradition and its becoming popular worldwide.. great

  15. malavika permalink
    November 27, 2007 10:03 pm

    very nice post, something many people would love to learn thru the net.
    I would like to learn the maharashtrian nawari style of draping the saree. Most people in modern times seem to have forgotten it.
    Any helpers?

  16. November 27, 2007 10:15 pm


    thanks. The Maharashtrian saree is 9 yards long and worn very differently, a bit like the dhoti with a pallav! I am sure any saree wearing Maharashtrian will be able to demonstrate to you! Actually it’s very easy and doesn’t need a petticoat. True, these days not many of the younger generation wear it, but actually it’s a dress that gives an awful lot of freedom of movement so I wonder why people don’t wear it. Perhaps people don’t wear it precisely because it does give freedom of movement, is cool and ideal for our weather. India has become a conservative society today and we are moving away from our roots and want to cover ourselves from head to toe, something that goes against our very culture. I hope that one day this type of saree makes a comeback.

  17. November 28, 2007 1:44 am

    Reminds me a cool joke about Khushwant Singh.
    When he was posted in some diplomatic mission etc. in the west they needed to dress up someone in Indian dress for some cultural occasion. But the problem was that the lady concerned had never wore a sari before. They thought that being an Indian Mr. Singh must have some know-how about wearing a sari. But were shocked when the sardar replied innocently that he did not know to tie a sari but only knows how to open it!

  18. noopur permalink
    December 30, 2007 6:46 pm

    hi… this is a great help… being an indian doesnt gurantee to know saree wear .. but this video is sure shot lesson…

  19. samar permalink
    January 4, 2008 9:46 pm

    i couldn’t find any video on this site . pl let me know where is the video ???

  20. January 4, 2008 9:53 pm

    Video is very much there Samar. Perhaps your internet connection isn’t fast enough. If not, the loading will take time.

    And thanks to all who have made comments here! 🙂

  21. guqin permalink
    January 5, 2008 12:06 am

    Sari caught my attention when I first saw it. It reminded me the image of a resting butterfly, especially with the broad piece across the shoulder (sorry, not knowing what it is called), it has the effect of glorifying. Also I do feel that Sari looks quite sexy, but only in a healthy and innocent way, unlike the vaulgarity of tight jeans or so everywhere in the western world or even in Asian countries now. I once saw a photo in a magazine on poverty, yet the girls in Sari in the photo looked so colorful and vibrant, I felt that if poverty didn’t take away a people’s love for beauty, it could’t take away their dignity, hence their clothing was just prophecizing a hopeful future.

    I am away impressed by the colorfulness of India. India’s people seem to like satuated but pure and imaginative colors (such as the kinds of yellows and purples). Some of those colors are so passionate that they almost bebcome audiable like a heartwarming laughter from a friend that you can recognize at distance. I think the choice of color reflects the charector of a people, for example, Rome and Greece’s well caculated, organized colors speak of a rational mind. Africa’s choice of primary, original color with child-drawing-like patterns reflect innocence and trust. China covers a full spectrum, from “big red, big green” (a Chinese phrase) in civil society to the snow-like purity of the black and white in calligraphy, which is quite symbolic of its inclusion of both the secular and spritual-artistic.

    By the way, I vaguely remember reading a long time ago that Greek-Roman dress was influenced by Indian dress. But the memery is so dim that I can’t confirm its truth. Does anyone know?

    • vasudev permalink
      August 24, 2009 11:07 am

      thanks for the compliment on indian saree and how beautiful women look in it. unfortunately the indian saree is being worn lesser nowadays since wearing a salwar kameez or jeans makes the wearer more free to move about. plus draping a 9 yard is not a quickly done job and probably reserved for special occassions only.

  22. yuma permalink
    February 18, 2008 5:21 pm

    i am from bangalore. basically i always try to wear the most patriotic/ real indian styles/fashion. this time i am desperate to learn nauvari, maharastrian style of wearing 9 yrd saree. i am planning to try this for an auspicious ocaasion shortly. searched quiet a few websites. anyone (from maharastra) pls trouble yourself to take some pics of step by step method and send me.
    i will be grateful to you people.

  23. paresh patel permalink
    August 23, 2009 6:19 pm

    Abha, it is unlikely that you will get all this from one place on the internet. However this information is available in a book. I don’t remember the name right now. Shall get back to you in a few days (I am traveling for the next few days) but in the meantime you could go to the best book shop in your city and ask if they have books on this.


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