India, being a nation of diversities, boasts of an enormous amssount of variety in customs, cultures and languages. Here, food habits, dialects, and attires change after a few hundred kilometers. So, its no surprise that saree draping styles change as one traverses through the length and breadth of the country. The style of wearing a saree, depends to a large extent on the culture and customs prevalent in a given geographical area. To understand this better, lets examine how sarees are worn in various parts of the country.
Lets start with the urban areas of North India, where one can see women wearing a saree in the ulta pallu style wherein the decorated edge of the saree is placed over the left shoulder and falls behind the back. This style has become very popular as most working women find it very functional and easy to manage.
The ulta pallu style is a variant of the seedha pallu style that is quite prevalent in Gujarat and the rural North. Here, the pallu or the decorative end is draped over the right shoulder rather than the left shoulder so that the design of the pallu is shown in front. However, given the fast pace of life in todays day and age, the seedha pallu style is slowly and steadily receding into oblivion.
In Central parts of India, we find the Gond Style in vogue, where the saree is first draped over the left shoulder before being draped over the rest of the body. The Maharashtrian Style Saree or the Kashta where the saree is worn in the shape of a dhoti is very common especially amongst rural women who find it very comfortable as they go about their daily chores. Down south, one can find women wearing sarees in the Dravidian or Veshti-Mundaai style wherein the Veshti covers the lower body while the Mundaai covers the upper body.
The Madisaara is another draping style that is common amongst the Brahmin ladies of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. One requires a nine-yard saree for wearing a saree in Madisaara style as compared to the six yards that is prevalent elsewhere. Another important style prevalent in places like Kerala is the Mundum Neryathum which is essentially two-piece attire in which the mundu forms the lower garment while the Neriyathu is placed over the left shoulder.
Sarees are also worn by women in tribal regions of Central India by tying and securing the sari firmly across the chest. You might have seen photographs of tribal women wearing a saree in this fashion. Whatever style you choose to drape your favourite light blue or lime green saree, keep in mind that you need to pay adequate attention to footwear, accessories, jewelry and all other items that go into completing your entire ensemble.