Bandhani, another name for Bandhej, is a popular form of designing which incorporates the tie and dye method. Derived from a Hindi word “Bandhan” (tying) or the Sanskrit word “Banda” (to tie), this highly skilled process is rooted in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and surprisingly some parts of Tamil Nadu where it is known by the name Sungudi or Chungidi. It is a two-step process, first sections of a fabric are tied to form certain a pattern and then these are dyed by dipping it in large containers of color. The end products are commonly known as Patori, Khombi and Ghar Chola.
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Bandhani is one of the oldest form of tie and dye art which even existed during the Indus Valley Civilization with evidences such as the Bandhani dots in paintings of the famous Ajanta caves. History says that the first Bandhani saree was worn during the times of Indian Emperor Harsh. The Khatri community of Gujrat gave a kick start to Bandhani work which then spread to Ajmer, Jaipur, Bikaner and Sikar. Numerous centers these days produce odhnis, sarees and turbans in Bandhani.
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The technique for Bandhani is exclusive whereby the cloth is to be tied at various points forming knots. When the fabric is dyed, the tied points do not catch color and stay in their natural color which is followed by drying in open air. This dye resisting method has a variety of designs based on knots like Ekdali, Trikunti, Chaubandi and on patterns such as Dungar Shahi (mountain pattern) and Kodi (teardrop shaped).
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Bandhej is practiced on almost all traditional wears like sarees and lehengas displaying elegance and are hence worn during the night time occasions and celebrations. However, for daily wear also, it has been used on Salwar Kameez which is flaunted in a variety of designs, fabrics, and colors.
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Leheriya pattern is a well-known pattern in Rajasthan which symbolizes water waves. Mostly it comprises the usage of two bright colors used alternately forming stripes such as yellow and red. However, other bright colors like green, pink and maroon are also very dominant. Bandhani has a very unique quality whereby each color depicts a different meaning. Generally, the bride would wear red or a recently married girl while wearing a yellow background portrays becoming a mother recently.
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It has taken over the markets with cities like Gujarat having the largest market for it since the demand has drastically increased over the past few decades. These days it’s a common sight to see not just women wearing these outfits but also men wearing headgears designed in these patterns. In the past years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi adorned the famous Bandhej turban on Republic Day and Independence Day.
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Bandhani clothing is often accompanied with embroidery or patchwork in borders and shiny mirror work to give a dazzling effect. Going through multiple mud resistant and dyeing process gives a calm and restful kind of design which soothes the eyes.This popular form of art has revived the use of natural dyes and over the years its distribution has spread all over the country.