Lehenga is the definition of Indian exquisiteness in its purest form. While the origin of Lehenga is not precisely definitive; it is like the history of not one, but various silhouettes merged to form a beautiful lehenga-choli. The enchanting ensemble adored by brides since ages has its roots in a three-piece attire worn by women in ancient times.
The ensemble consisted of a draped lower garment called Antriya, which was a white or colourful strip of cotton cloth that was passed through the legs and tucked in at the back. Antriya was gender-neutral - also known as the origin of dhoti and lungi. Stone sculptures from the 1st century AD depict the antriya as part of the regular wardrobe of ancient Indians.
The Antriya was paired with the Stanapatta or Bandeau top as we call it now and the Uttariya. It was a kind of veil worn over the head or shoulders. From these early illustrations, it’s quite evident to infer that the Antriya went on to become the stitched Lehenga, the Stanapatta developed into the blouse, and the Uttariya became the dupatta.
The women adorned Lehenga in its rudimentary form until the reign of the Mughals, who brought with them immense influences for early Indian fashion. Lehenga evolved and flourished through fine craftsmanship with the arrival of Mughals.
The cotton fabric became the foundation for the newly found attire, which throughout the time came in printed, embroidered and embellished forms. It was during the reign of the terrific Mughal King, Akbar when artisans used royal fabrics and embroideries like brocade and further evolved the Lehenga into a royal attire.
At present, lehengas are often elaborately embroidered. If we dive deep into the melange of Indian art, culture and traditions - we know that the magnificence of Indian embroideries is matchless. From the versatile Gotta Patti of Rajasthan to Traditional Banarasi, Lucknowi Chikankari and Floral Kashmiri embroideries, there is an eclectic range and choices of fabrics, weaves and accessories. The lehenga is known by different names in different parts of India, such as the quintessential bright ghagra in Gujarat or the ornate chaniya choli in Rajasthan.
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May - June 2020