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Thursday, January 2, 2014
White Clothes evolution in India
India is always abundant on colors, each with different meanings attached to it. Essentially, colors are an inherent part of Indian moods and traditions, but being a diverse country, each color speaks of differently on different geographies. White is the color that symbolizes peace, purity and wisdom, and is also ambiguously used to denote mourning and lifelessness.
During the Vedic period, all the different colors were associated with the various social castes that existed during that time. Hence ‘vama’ meaning ‘color’ was used to denote a particular caste. This no longer exists today, but, there are certain rituals that are passed from generation to generation and are deeply ingrained in our society. Hence, the color white denoting purity and light, which was exclusively reserved for the Brahmins or the higher caste during the Vedic Period, is still associated with them till date. White is a color of simplicity and this is why the members of the Jain sect wear white clothing. However, owing to the diversity of India, the exception to this rule can be seen in southern and western India where Brahmins wear brightly colored garb.
White is also a color that we associate with Hindu widows, as they are only permitted to don clothes of this attire. However, over the course of several years and through the emancipation of women, this norm has changed for the better. White has been associated with deep mourning and is the color that is still worn to funerals and ceremonies that mark death or the remembrance of a deceased. It is said that white clothes when worn by a widow help her to disconnect herself from the normal trappings and pleasures of life around her. This is commonly seen in the Northern part of India. However, the southern part of India has a different perception and understanding of the color white as it is symbolic of purity, chastity and peace. India, being a home to multiple cultures and diverse population, has different interpretations of colors and symbols that vary across the length and breadth of the country.
White Red Saree
Married women in the northern reaches of the country are not permitted to wear white on their wedding day, as white is associated with mourning and is therefore inauspicious. On the contrary the wedding attire of the bride in Gujarat is the ‘panetarsaree which is a combination with red and white. Likewise, Bengali women wear white sarees with a red border on auspicious occasions. In Assam the bride wears a dress called the Mekhala Chaddar which is a white embellished saree and a Kerela bride wears a set mundu which is a traditional white saree with a golden border for the wedding, as the color white is symbolic of chastity. The bridal saree of Odisha is called the ‘Saptakar’ and is made out of tussar silk with hues of white, red and black. The Indian Christian bride always dresses in white- be it a gown or a saree. White is an amalgamation of the seven colors of the rainbow and that is why it is said to have the qualities of all the colors. In fact Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge is always seen in white dress, as the color is symbolic of knowledge, peace, cleanliness and purity. A lot of people in Ashrams and Yoga Groups wear white colors as it is also representative of spirituality.
Lately, the color white has gained a lot of popularity owing to the various Bollywood divas and fashionistas, who have been photographed wearing white designer sarees and dresses. The white fashion trend was highlighted by Deepika Padukone’s white and gold saree that she flaunted at the Cannes Festival and became the most stylish show stopper on the red carpet. A lot of other Bollywood stars have also flaunted their white sarees, particularly Kareena Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who both appeared in almost identical white sarees and sleeveless red blouse ensembles.