Before unfolding the intricacies of this gorgeous form of sarees, I would lay down the fact that each one of you must have witnessed the beauty of Benarasi sarees since it is most sought after attire in our Indian weddings. In fact, the first time I heard about it was during my cousin’s marriage when I was about 15. I was completely bowled over by its beauty and still reminisce the red Benarasi saree made out of the finest silk with golden zari and a beautiful embroidery. That impression in my mind cannot be replicated on paper but here are a few samples of this marvellous of saree.
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Here’s a deep orange Benarasi saree woven out of silk.
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The tradition of Benarasi sarees has been in existence for centuries. Although the weaving of silk brocade initiated in Benaras as early as the 17th century, it entered the major markets only in the 19th century. Presently we have both traditional sectors of silk handloom along with modern sectors having technology and machines to carry out the entire process mechanically.To reduce the time, labor and wages on manual designing, the CAD software (Computer Aided Designing) is used to digitize the process. Alaipura and Madanpura are two famous traditional sectors in Varanasi carrying out the production of these sarees.
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The latest trends for Benarasi sarees have witnessed a remarkable modernism in their presentation. Eminent designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee released the “Banarasi Bride” collection offering spectacular designs that gave a whole new look to this traditional form of sarees. Here’s an illustration of his outstanding designs.
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Designer Manish Malhotra is well known for experimenting with ethnic Indian designs and his work titled “The Regal Threads” showed some extraordinary finesse with the classic Benarasi outfits.
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Benarasi sarees are predominantly woven out of silk but based on the fabric they are generally classified into four types:
1) Katan is the simplest among all which uses a plain fabric and results in pure silk sarees.
2) Georgette is a fine fabric which is light and has S-twisted and Z-twisted yarns in it.
3) Organza has different designs made by warp and weft based on a rich fabric.
4) Shattir is another fabric with exclusive designs.
The attractive design on an Organza saree is shown here.
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Typically, a Benarasi saree takes 15 days to a month for its completion but frequent power outages leave the weavers idle for most of the day causing major plights. In recent times, the use of chemical dyes causing pollution in Ganga River was thankfully solved with the use of natural dyes when a team from the Benaras Hindu University created a technique to develop natural colors from plants.The market for Benarasi sarees has always been on the rise. It has become an integral part of the culture of Varanasi and the most popular choice for wedding ceremonies.