By: Saman Siddiqui
I can still visualize my great grandmother, sitting in courtyard wearing Gharara. White farshai cotton gharara. When we used to visit her on weekends, or at any family gathering, she used to wear it as daily attire. Not only her, in old days most of the ladies of my family used to wear Ghararas. Old family photographs do provide glimpse to that era.
Gharara is considered to be the clothing style of Muslim females from the Nawab Era of the sub continent. It is not just clothing attire, in itself contains a rich history of culture and traditions.
Historically it is said to believe that gharars originated in the late 19th and 20th centenary, at imperial courts of Nawabs. The women of the rich noble families had dress code of Ghararas made of very expensive material, showcasing the status of the wearer. Gharara finds its origin in the city of Nawabs, Lucknow and Awadh. More comprehensively, it was the typical attire of the Muslim women from the northern belt of subcontinent known as Utter Pardesh. Agra and Aligarh also fall in this region.
The romance with this attire still continues. It has evolved over the period of time and continues to fascinate people even today. When ladies think of a beautiful, traditional, and elegant dress for the weddings, the Gharara proves to be the appropriate choice. Not only for the bride, also for the close relatives of bride as well as groom. If it’s Baraat reception function, ladies of groom’s family will accompany him wearing Ghararas for the function. Famous personalities like Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan and Fatima Jinnah have donned this traditional outfit during the 40’s. The famous Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore had worn it for her wedding in 1969, which was later worn by her daughter in law Kareena Kapoor on her wedding day in 2012.
The dress has been subject to different fashion alterations by the passage of time but has somehow managed to maintain its original and traditional elegance and glory.
A typical Gharara wear consists of three pieces of clothing. A shirt (tunic) with a length varying from mid-thigh length to knee length, a veil or dupatta and the Gharara. This is typically a pair of pants that are long and flared at the bottom. The Gharara is pleated at the knees. The knee portion of Gharara known as “Goat”. This ruched portion signifies it as a typical Gharara. Traditionally this goat part has a lace or embroidered work all across its rim. The same pattern worked over the dupatta border. Well much depends upon the taste and choice of wearer. For brides heavy work of salma, dabka or gotta is preferred. For daily wear mostly cotton was preferred as material of Gharara. For formal wearing it could be silk, georgette, or Jamawarr banarsi material, depending upon choice.
The Pakistani designers have put some contemporary twist on the traditional gharara. Sleeker than a traditional gharara, it skims the thigh like a boot cut pant and the pleating is more refined, giving a leaner shape.
Although traditionally the gharara had been more likely to be reserved for formal occasions, particularly bridals, the new gharara pant works with both semi-formal and formal tunics. Replacing the old cotton farshai Gharars of my great grandmother’s era used for daily wear.
Though the designers have given a new look to this traditional gharara in a form of gharara pants, but sorry to say it is a big miss rather than a hit. Traditional gharara has lost its elegance in this contemporary makeover. In older days they were considered everyday wear. This was so probably because they were fairly easy to wear, they were baggy, comfortable, and the pants give the wearer greater freedom. That’s not the case in this new modification.
It might look trendy and smart on young girls who are slim. But for middle aged ladies or those with heavy bottoms would look rather clumsy. For adopting any fashion it is a must to consider your body type and how it will you appear wearing it.
If you are shopping for readymade, a pair would cost starting form Rs1800, onwards. Price varies depending on material and brand name. Mean while the tailor is charging from Rs 1500 to 3000 for stitching a proper gharara. And the cost of buying material for gharara would be separate. As ever, cut is everything as a badly fitted gharara pants looks terrible, be ready for some tantrums from your Tailor as they get to grips with this new trend.
Gharara is not just an old style of dressing; it is representative of an era. The beauty, elegance and the grace of the original thing will definitely attract you to wear it on special occasions to look more stunning.