Gujarati Sarees, also known as Surat sarees, are an extremely interesting variation of the traditional sarees in India as they are worn with the drape or pallu hanging forward as opposed to hanging back over one shoulder. In other words, while the traditional north Indian saree is draped over the shoulder, exposing the midriff, this style of saree hides the midriff and is a more modest version of this garment. Most commonly, these sarees are found in bandhej print, a tie and dye style that is uniquely found in the state of Gujarat, with simple embroidery that comes in the form of geometrically placed circles, dots or squares.
Due to their highly distinctive look, these sarees are typically worn by women on festive occasions when a traditional style is expected. However a lot of conservative housewives and rural women are also known for wearing this type of saree as part of daily wear because of the modesty of the drape. Bandhej is the most favored technique for most Gujarati sarees, but in the Gujarati wedding saree it is often combined with more ornate designs. Like any other saree meant to be worn on weddings, this style is available in more ornate fabrics and with more delicate embroideries, and with heavier work on the drape (the most visible part of the garment).
A Surat saree can be worn for various occasions and is suitable for both, formal and informal events. The versatility of a Gujarati style saree makes it easier for women to wear it for almost any occasion. Most women opt for the bandhej or bandhani saree, the most common type of Gujrati saree, when they are attending a semi formal event during the day because the tie and dye nature of this garment looks especially interesting in the sunlight; moreover, this is a light and comfortable saree style. Similarly, a heavily embroidered saree is preferred for a formal event during the night as it adds the appropriate amount of grace to the look. Typical Gujarati embroideries include the Kutch embroidery, Shisha (mirror work) and patch border work. In terms of color, the traditional palette in this state includes warm reds, yellows and oranges; however, nowadays, a lot more hues are available, like blue, purple, green, black or even white. The most luxurious Gujarati sarees are the Patola sarees, hand-woven sarees made of fine materials, with artistic ethnic designs.
The classic wedding sarees from this region are the Gujrati panetar sarees, woven of the finest silks with bands of zari work and green and yellow tie and dye patterns all over them. They are typically made of red and white silk fabrics and look very festive and beautiful.
Accessorizing a Gujarati Saree
Sarees in Surat are known for being intrinsically simple and due to the fact that the pallu is draped in the front, many women choose to avoid heavy necklaces as they won’t be very visible. As a result, they wear simple pendant necklaces that don’t pull too much attention away from the pallu itself. In terms of jewelry, the main focus is around the wrists, forehead and ears. This means that intricate bangles in large numbers are usually worn along with this saree. Women tend to also wear a large mang tikka or a simple bindi, depending on their own aesthetic preferences and the occasion. The earrings worn are also usually heavy and most women tend to prefer Kundan earrings or Meenakari earrings to go with traditional sarees. However, western jewelry like diamond solitaires or stone studded gold sets can be worn with more modern Gujarati sarees. A lot of Gujarati women also tend to wear a gajra, which is essentially a wreath of jasmine flowers, in their hair when they want to complete the ethnic look. Other ethnic jewelry like antique metal rings and anklets are also a good option with these types of sarees.
Younger women wearing a Gujarati sari love to experiment with more informal styles, even for festivals and ceremonies. For semi formal occasions, they prefer street jewelry or chunky junk jewelry to go with their attire as opposed to precious stones and heavy jewelry. This includes options like wooden bangles, oxidized silver necklaces and dangle earrings.
High heeled shoes are the best choice of footwear with this garment, as they really compliment the fall of the saree and add to the elegance of the outfit. However flat slippers or sandals with elaborate stone studded designs or zari work can also be worn to enhance the ‘ethnic’ quotient while maintaining maximum comfort.
Indian handbags such as embroidered clutches or cutdana handbags are highly suited to Gujarat sarees. Large gold potlis hanging from the wrist look very elegant and luxurious; they are also very useful at busy functions and wedding events.