Tying sarees by the numbers

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 23 Jul 2019

Learning the art: Phillips (third left) draping her saree with other participants during their first experience draping a saree the Gujarati way called Seedha Pallu at the workshop in Penang Street, Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: Draping six yards of cloth in various styles can be a daunting task for any first-timers.

Worn with a fitted bodice commonly called a choli (ravike in southern India) and petticoat called parkar, or ul-pavadai, the saree is a garment worn by women of Indian origin.

Busting the myths and sharing an insight on the various types of sarees and the method of draping it, the Saree: From Tangible to Intellectual workshop at Little India was a hit with locals and foreigners eager to learn about the attire.

Freelance motion graphic designer Cheryl Teh said she planned to wear one to her best friend’s wedding.

“I have always wanted to learn to drape a saree. I bought one two years ago but have not had the opportunity to use it.

“Now that I have learnt how to drape it, it doesn’t seem too difficult.

“I will probably forget the method but I think it will be easier next time,” she said when met at the workshop held at the Malaysian Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Penang office in Penang Street.

Teh, 28, said the workshop made her understand more about the

various types and patterns of sarees.

“When I bought my saree, I did not know much and just picked a random one.

“Now, I know what to look out for when choosing a saree for a special occasion,” she said.

Australian Kristin Phillips said she had always been intrigued by the saree and wanted to learn to drape it for years.

“I never had an opportunity like this, it is such a fun way to learn about another culture.

“I have always wanted to visit a saree shop but it is intimidating to go in on your own and browse.

“This time, I got to visit three shops. And I now know how to drape a saree.

“I will definitely consider wearing a saree as it is not as difficult as it seems to drape it,” said the 53-year-old who is volunteering with the George Town Festival.

The workshop and visit to the local traders were part of the many programmes lined up for this year’s George Town Festival.

Earlier, project director B. Preveena shared insights on the different ways sarees are draped in different states in India.

“In Tamil Nadu, the Kanjivaram, Kandangi and Chettinadu are some of the type of sarees while in Madhya Pradesh, the Chanderi and Maheswari are their staples.

“It is difficult to find some of these sarees outside their respective states.

“While the draping styles also differ such as the Madisari way in Tamil Nadu and Nivi, which is a common drape, originating from Andhra Pradesh,” she shared.

Preveena said there were many different techniques of making a saree which led to the varying price range. “A saree can range up to a few thousands ringgit based on its cloth and design.

“The motifs on a saree also signify different things such as a peacock for immortality, courtship and fertility while blooming flowers are considered holy and associated with the Hindu gods.

“The various colours also carry significance based on the occasion.

“Yellow, red, pink orange and magenta are favoured for weddings while indigo and blue are not considered auspicious colours,” she said.

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