My love affair with the gharara started a very long time ago. Brides always wore them and looked beautiful. My mother wore it for her wedding. It has always been the go-to dress to wear at weddings.
The gharara is a beautiful dress and one that I absolutely adore. If prepared in the traditional way, with each leg nice and wide, it screams elegance and royalty. For those who don’t know, the gharara is a very traditional dress that was originally worn by Muslim women in the northern parts of India, mainly in Uttar Pradesh. The entire outfit consists of a dupatta (the veil), a kurta (tunic) that that goes up to the mid thighs, and the gharara itself, which is a pair of wide two-legged pants that flare out below the knee where they are pleated and stitched. The gharara pants alone are generally made with at least six meters of fabric (could be a lot more), that is cut into little pieces and stitched up in a certain way to create a dramatic flare. The fabric could be plain or already printed, but if embroidery is to be done, it’s done after the cuttings are stitched up loosely for the pattern to look seamless.
In our family, all ghararas are made by my father’s aunt, who learned the art of gharara making from my grandmother and great-grandmother. No matter who needs a gharara stitched, whose wedding it may be, fabrics are bought and given to her to work her magic.
I couldn’t wear a gharara for my wedding day as my dress was a traditional Hyderabadi Khada Dupatta instead (my husband is from Hyderabad). I wore a gharara for my walimah, and since it was in Hyderabad, and I wanted my side of the family to display our culture, I made sure all the women in my family wore ghararas too, all the way from my grandmother who couldn’t remember the last time she wore one, to my cousins, and every single woman of my extended family that flew in from Delhi for the event.
My sister-in-law got married in April in what was a very sudden and quick affair, with everything happening within a span of just three weeks. With such little time on our hands, outfit planning wasn’t exactly a luxury I had, especially living so far away and reaching just a week before the wedding. I took this as an opportunity to finally wear something I had always wanted to get my hands on- my mother’s wedding outfit.
My mother’s wedding gharara was a beautiful magenta in silk, with very delicate and subtle little dots on it made with golden zari. The dupatta, a magenta chiffon, in true gharare ka dupatta style had a zari jaal in exactly the same design as the gharara itself, with golden kiran all around. It wasn’t elaborate, was very understated, but so beautiful and elegant. So I asked my mother to pull it out, and get a new kurta made for me, and bring it with her to Hyderabad for the wedding.
In fact, I also asked her to get a little gharara made for TheLittleMiss, and as always, my father’s aunt worked her magic on a beautiful fabric bought by my mom, and a little maroon and golden gharara came to be. Although the heat and jet-lag really got to her and I later regretted dressing her up so much, but oh, she looked like a little nawabi princess.
Have you ever worn the gharara? Do you love it? Or is there some other outfit that holds a special place in your heart like the gharara does in mine? Would love to hear your thoughts!