What is Kriti Sanon talking about? All about Banarasi sarees from Banaras!

The recent ramp walk by Ranveer Singh and Kriti Sanon in Kashi is highlighting all about the culture of Varanasi. So, how can we miss the pride of the city - Banarasi sarees?

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As BTown actors Ranveer Singh and actress Kriti Sanon walked the ramp for Manish Malhotra on Varanasi Ghats yesterday, the limelight once again cast upon the rich tapestry of Varanasi, shining through the cultural fabrics of Banarasi sarees. Nothing but Kriti Sanon herself, speaking about her love for the sarees, was enough to pique our interest in delving deep into the history and origin of this beautiful cultural couture from Banaras.



While this north-Indian city from the state of Uttar Pradesh is popular for its religious spots nowadays, particularly renowned for the Kashi Vishwanath Temple due to its recent revamping and portrayal in movies, what truly defines Banaras is its Banarasi sarees. Famed for their exquisite designs and rich craftsmanship, Banarasi sarees are widely embraced for religious ceremonies and weddings across the country.

The rich history of these sarees dates back to the Mughal period in India around the 14th century when craftsmen migrated here from Persia. Banaras was renowned for its exquisite silk weaves and zari work during this time, making it a preferred destination for Mughal royals seeking luxury fabrics. It was during this era that Banarasi sarees emerged. They quickly became symbols of wealth and prestige, favored by royals and wealthy merchants. However, historians also suggest that traces of sarees can be found in Hindu mythologies such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata.



It is believed that the Mughal emperors, particularly Akbar, played an important role in promoting and patronizing Banarasi saris. Hence, the weaving techniques of these sarees have been passed down through generations of skilled artisans.

The influence of the Mughal era on the sarees is evident in the incorporation of Mughal motifs such as amru, ambi, and domak, which commonly adorn Banarasi silk saris to this day.

The sarees experienced a revival during the British colonial period. Affluent families and royal courts embraced these sarees, and women could often be seen adorned in this cultural craftsmanship.

How's it made?



With time, sarees underwent a revolution in terms of various designs, work, and patterns. The making of these sarees involves the use of gold and silver threads, also known as intricate zari work. Traditionally, they are handwoven using pure silk threads and crafted with zari.

Typically, a traditional Banarasi saree takes an average of 15 to 30 days to make. However, the duration also depends on the type of pattern and complexity of the design. It is mentioned in various documents that around three weavers are involved in making one saree. While one weaver is responsible for weaving the entire saree, the second weaver handles the revolving ring, and the third weaver assists with border design.

Among all, the red Banarasi saree is the most popular for showcasing its cultural significance. Since red is considered a sacred and auspicious color in Indian culture, the red Banarasi saree adds luxurious glam to any occasion. In contemporary times, Banarasi sarees are available in a wide range of styles, including pure silk, organza, georgette, and other fabrics, tailored to suit various occasions.



To date, many thousands of weavers churn out Banarasi sarees, each adorned with trademark patterns of paisleys, geometrical motifs, or hunting scenes, hand-loomed with various dying techniques. However, the sarees have also faced replicas in the Indian market, with fake Banarasis featuring plastic zari made of Chinese silk, among other imitations, causing concern for Banarasi weavers for quite some time.

Despite this, many manufacturers in Banaras do not directly engage with individual customers. Instead, wholesale buyers from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai visit these places, particularly the traditional Chowk area of Banaras, to further distribute the sarees to customers.

It is, therefore, the artistry involved in the making of Banarasi sarees that has earned them the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, preserving the ultimate legacy of traditional Indian attire.

With inputs from Times of India, Weavers Story, Chinaya, Silk Kothi, Outlook Traveller. 

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