The sari is the national dress for Indian women. It is a more elegant and fashionable item to wear than a salwar kameez or even western clothes. The types and design of the various saris differ from state to state. Saris are usually 6 yards long but 9 yard saris are worn by orthodox Brahmin women and by brides at their weddings. Saris are made in cotton, polyester, rayon and silk.

Cotton saris

Cotton saris are very popular since they are so comfortable to wear in the hot summer. They are made at textile mills in Mumbai (Bombay), Ahmedabad, Delhi and a few mills in South India. They vary in texture depending on the fineness, or thread count, of the threads that are used. These have usually multicolor, printed designs while some are block printed by hand. A cottage industry thrives making them on handlooms.

In Kerala, saris are usually made of cotton by hand weavers.  Called Kasavu saris, they are white or ivory fabric with a colorful border. Kasavu is the name of the gold brocade border which makes these saris uniquely identifiable.

Polyester and rayon saris

Polyester and rayon saris are also available in multicolored printed designs. The city of Surat in the state of Gujarat is the largest centre for making these saris. Their advantages are that they dry quickly, don’t require ironing and are lightweight.

Silk saris

Silk is the most expensive and luxurious material for saris. They are woven on handlooms with silk threads that made via the process of sericulture (silk farming) primarily in the states of Karnataka and Bengal. The primary centers for making silk saris include Kanjeepuram and Dharmavaram in Tamil Nadu, Bangalore in Karnataka, Ponchampalli in Andhra and Varnasi (Banaras) in Uttar Pradesh. Small amounts of silk saris are made in Bengal and Kashmir.

The sari that I am wearing in the photo to the right is made of Kanjeepuram silk. In my next entry I will tell you more about the special silk saris from these regions.



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