Kashta: Historical milieu

Cultural significance of Kashta :

The Konkan region of India is well defined for its varied culture and interesting lifestyle. The western coasts of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka have their own significance in the form of their heritage. Each part of the country is defined by their specialities and similarly, when we talk about clothing, each state has a different story. “Kashta” or nauvari is one of the most popular saree drapes from India.

Kashta/Kashati drape is majorly known from Rani Laxmi Bai, defining that one’s clothing doesn’t restrict a person even during a war. Rani Laxmi Bai was draping the kashta saree which is a 9 yards drape while she fought with Britishers riding on a horse. And such stories of Marathi women accompanying their husbands during war wearing a kashta are some old classics to read. Women invented the Nauvari drape resembling a man's trouser, to allow for ease of mobility. It has evolved into the customary look ever since. Wearing it serves as a constant reminder of their worth in the male-dominated culture and their equality in earlier eras.

Kashta as an identity:

Clothing is a major part of one’s identity. Does your drape identify you? Not just culturally but it talks a lot about any person's lifestyle, interests and work area. Kashta has identified and is identifying women from the Konkan region till today. The story recites that the kashta drape was dignified when women were given more preference in work areas and started doing other work than just being homemakers. “Women have always been a multi-tasker”

For their wedding ceremonies, brides typically wear the gorgeous Nauvari saree. Often looking stunning, the saree is draped in a classic manner. It is also significant in many festivals,  such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Gudi Padwa, many women can be seen donning Kashta draped sarees. The kashta drape seems complex to those wearing it for the first time but it takes 3-4 minutes if you know it perfectly. As developed the drape is styled in three types i.e, Brahimini and Peshvai.

 Draping a Lavani Kashta Saree

  • While draping a kashta saree ensure that the border is visible. Set the pallu pleats and pin them well in length to make them stay, then take the inner section and drape it around the waist from the back and tie a knot on the right side in the front. Set the Pallu at the left shoulder and pin at the blouse roughly.
  • Adjust the front drape border before making a wrap-around, left side tuck. You'll have a front loop for making pleats in your skirt. Later, pull the central lower edge of the saree toward the front which will create the appearance of a dhoti.
  • Then make lower pleats in the skirt that opens to the right. Align all pleats, then wrap them starting from the large pleat fabric on the left, neatly wrapping all pleats up to the knee.
  • Holding the pleats at the top edge, fold them once into a bundle, and cover it with the waist border to keep it there. Take the cloth that was originally dragged from back to front again and tuck the remaining portion into the waistband.
  • Make two sides of the lower pleats now. Holding this section's lower edge, draw it back between your legs to do the Kashta. Make pleats on the folded portion of the border area after folding it so that the correct side turns up.
  • Use pins to fix the border on the left side, then tuck it under the waistband. Once your outer border is in the cowl covering the front mid-waist area, adjust the front drape pleats there and your Lavani drape is done.

It can vary to single border kashta drape, double border kashta drape and single border kashta drape with no pleats. It’s up to the wearer which suits them.


Accepting modernity :

In Brahmani, the saree is draped in the same manner with a single border. It is showcased prominently by Bollywood actresses. Showcased in Bajirao Mastani and Pinga Dance. The saree has a separate step after tucking the kashta, which is the only distinction. The front drape resembles a large cowl and features a side-tucked border.

Whereas Peshvai is influenced by Maratha Peshwa. The only difference is the use of silk in contrast to borders in a zigzag peshvai saree style. Commonly seen in Marathi weddings. The saree has always been an integral part of a women’s wardrobe. It is seen that now people from the Konkan region have developed a modern style and the kashta drape is only seen during auspicious occasions or festivities and weddings. The saree holds spiritual significance. The drape in itself talks a lot of intriguing mystical significance. The style sense Chaitanya, the holy awareness, and Marak shakti which is the destroyer of energy, in addition to the Bhav. The saree is thought by many women to harness positive cerebral energy, demolishing the ego, and also diminish negativity because of these qualities.

That saree has catered to the global masses inspiring designers and women around to adore the beautiful drape in their signature style.

Embraced with elegant gold jewellery and other ornaments the drape completes the historical style. Nauvari is not just a liberation or a revolution but it centred its place in a woman's everyday lifestyle holding the power of modest Indian culture while not stopping women to attain their rights and follow their dreams to achieve what the world has to offer outside one’s house. The saree as the whole is revolutionary and defines womanhood at its peak.

Author - Meghna Dhaiya