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How has the Lehenga Evolved Over the Years?

  • 6 min read

Honour the passed traditions:

India is one of the greatest countries in the world when it comes to preserving its cultures, traditions and all the elements that come along with it. The Indian subcontinent is a treasure trove of rituals and habits dating back to the Indus valley civilisation. And fortunately all of these traditions have been passed down through generations. Whether it’s a blouse or a lehenga, everything has gone through a transformation, and this transformation is related to the ongoing situations and turmoil in our country, whether it’s the colonial rule that changed the fashion or the entrance of a certain ruler like the Mughals that influenced how we dressed. 

Lehenga is one of the key garments worn by women of our country, and it’s been around for centuries, if not millennia. In India, there is no one way to wear lehengas; each state and its history affects the way it’s worn. Whether you’re wearing a ghagra in Rajasthan with a Kurti kanchali or a Pattu Pavadai in Tamil Nadu, the culture has influenced what defines a lehenga in every state. Today's bridal lehengas are only a reminiscence of the full and flourishing and heavily embroidered lehengas women wore many years ago. Today, Lehengas are heavily influenced by a globalised world. Handcrafted Lehengas

Handcrafted Exquisite Lehengas with intricate zari work

Emergence of Lehenga:

The history of lehengas is beautiful; they didn’t occur in isolation but evolved over a period of time. In ancient India, the lehenga choli or the ghagra choli was a three-piece attire. This three-piece attire consisted of an antriya, and the antriya was a lower garment from which the Ghaghra and the dhoti emerged. The uttariya was a veil that was worn over the shoulder or head; the modern-day dupattas find a base in these uttariya. Lastly, we have the stanapatta, which is a chest band to cover the chest, and the blouse is often derived from this garment. The mentions of these garments can be found in ancient texts and scriptures. If one happens to visit temples of an ancient origin, they will find the sculptures and murals dressed in these clothing. It’s astounding how the traditional attire has travelled over centuries to become a modern-daylehenga choli. Our modern-daylehenga designs are starkly different from these ancient designs but a testament to how traditions and cultures mould themselves to eras and periods. 

The simple lehenga received a further transformation upon the entrance of the Mughals into our country. The Mughal women wore pyjamas, peshwaj and heavy dupattas, and this outfit was a precursor to the churidar and salwar of modern times. The Mughalai culture intertwined with the Indian traditions and culture, and there were massive changes in the lehenga as well. Lehengas became voluminous, experimentation with different fabrics started, and the embroideries became heavier and opulent. The upper echelon of the society, as well as the middle-class, adopted these luxurious items. They saw popularity till the nineteenth century, after which the independence movement and imperial rulers influenced the attire of modern India. The imperial rulers brought with them lace, delicate chiffons and pastel colours which were starkly different from the jewel-toned and glittery norms set by our rulers. In the nineteenth century and until the first half of the twentieth century, ankle-length lehengas were the norm. These lehengas were flourishing and sat around the lower body like an umbrella. Fabrics like satin and silks were prevalent amongst the upper class, while the lower class went for cotton and khadi fabric. However, during this period, the sarees became the norm, and lehenga choli became exclusive to special occasions and events. 

Simple lehenga and its further transformation upon the entrance of the Mughals into our country.

The resurgence of the lehenga happened somewhere in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, the lehengas had gone through a significant change, and various cuts and trends became available. We now have the A-line lehengas, the fish cut, and many more. Of course, traditional lehengas like theBanarasi lehengas are still popular. However, the customer is now spoiled with choices. We can get our choicest dupattas, works and embroideries done. In fact,lehengas online are now exuberant and only need a few clicks to have them at home. Get Banarasi Lehenga Panels  to customize it your choice. 

Exclusive modern trends:

Find some of the exclusive banarasi lehenga from weaver story’s elegant collection. The lehenga is a versatile garment which can be paired and customised as per your styling theme. People nowadays are being experimental with the three piece attire adoring it differently for various celebrations. The following are some of our finest silk banarasi lehenga that can be a part of your ethnic wardrobe.

Embrace angrakha to pair with your lehenga:

Angrakha is a robe-like top which can be wrapped around usually skirted and tied in front, or to a side with an inner flap.The red handwoven zardozi lehenga is perfectly paired with  pure mulberry silk gathered angrakha short kurta and lustrous organza dupatta. Elegantly embellished with metal sequence and pitta work the set is your perfect outfit for any upcoming occasions. The mulberry silk is the finest quality of silk with smooth texture and durability. The red is the color of love and often admired by everyone for its graceful look and charming quality.

https://www.weaverstory.com/products/red-handwoven-pure-silk-lehenga-with-zardozi-embroidery-and-gathered-angrakha-top-with-organza-dupatta

 

Peek the pink:

Pink is the comfort color when it comes to choosing outfits for the celebrations. It adds grace and beauty to every festivities. It is meant to be blooming and bold with the added softness of womanhood. The hot pink georgette bandhani lehenga with organza dupatta and blouse is a perfect traditional staple this summer. Exclusively handwoven with banarasi craftsmanship, the ancient artistry is always ahead in weaving its footprint to our hearts.. The embellishment with intricate zardozi work on dupatta is eye captivating. Flaunt this perfect traditional piece and stand out in every special occasion.

https://www.weaverstory.com/products/hot-pink-handloom-georgette-bandhani-lehenga-with-organza-dupatta-and-blouse

Hot Pink Handloom Georgette Bandhani Lehenga With Organza Dupatta And Blouse

 

Magnificent Banarasi Artistry:

Handwoven with love this magnificent silk lehenga in fine katan silk is a true example of banarasi craftsmanship. Banaras is the city of luxurious handlooms. The richness of the craft is allured using mustard weaving techniques. Using elegant zari and lustrous katan silk the lehengas are loved by everyone to pair on every festivities. Katan silk is the fine, soft and delicately lustrous kind of silk that has made Banarasi renowned the world over. The purple handloom banarasi lehenga with meenakari and pink gota work blouse is a staple for any wedding ceremony. The color purple is pleasant and bright which is perfect for every occasion. The lehenga is styled with a pink raw silk gota work blouse and a hand woven Organza Dupatta. The richness of delicate Meenakari is a must have.

https://www.weaverstory.com/products/purple-handloom-banarasi-lehenga-with-meenakari-and-pink-gota-work-blouse

Purple Handloom Banarasi Lehenga With Meenakari And Pink Gota Work Blouse

 

Modernizing the ethnic attire :

It's truly astounding to notice how the lehenga changed from an antriya to what it is today. The exchange of culture and traditions within communities and the ever-dynamic geopolitical issues have all contributed to this Weaver Story. The weavers of these lehengas have also implemented their own innovations to various fabrics, and designers from all over the country have given the lehenga their own spin. In an age of social media, there is an increased awareness of different cultures, and we’re now cognizant of the different works. In Punjab, we have the phulkari, Gujarat has its Patola, the Southern states boast about their luxurious silks, while Rajasthan has its gotta-Patti and mirror work. These handlooms have influenced the work done on a lehenga. A lehenga is truly an adaptive style as it can be made on almost all fabrics with various special works. 

Lehengas find a place in everyone’s wardrobe; the youth is now challenging the age-old norms, and this special garment finds itself in an androgynous space.Lehengas for women are no longer the norm; many men have started to adopt more feminine styles in their personal wardrobes, which is truly beautiful. The lehengas have transformed not just in style but in a philosophical, sociological, historical, political and geographical sense as well. 

At Weaver Story, each of our lehengas pay an ode to this historic piece of clothing that has transcended time and style. Browse through our vast collection that truly showcases the hard work and determination of the skilled weavers of our country. 

Author: Uma Shekhawat