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Glory of the Gara

Part of every Parsi bride’s trousseau, the gara sari is an enchanted garden of visual delight

Author: Saloni Madan | Source: Deccan Chronicle

A thing of beauty is a joy forever/ Its loveliness increases, it will never pass into nothingness. John Keat’s poem, Endymion, may have received scathing criticism back then from critics for narrating the tale of a goddess in love with a shepherd, but his lines have endured, becoming synonymous with everything that is eternally beautiful. Like, for instance, the gara sari. What the Kanjeevaram is to a south Indian and Benarasi to north and east Indians, the gara is to the Parsi community. A thing of beauty to be treasured and passed from mother to daughter, aired at weddings and other formal occasions, then carefully packed and kept away, ready and waiting for the next big outing.

Unlike the Kanjeevarams and Benarasis that are woven, the gara is embroidered. That too by hand. Though looking at its neatness and detailing, you could be forgiven for mistaking it to be machine-made. A traditional gara comes in three basic styles — a dense all-over jaal pattern; a border and pallu with small motifs sprinkled across; or just a running border that can be stitched onto a sari. The price is, therefore, determined by the intricacy and extent of the embroidery. It is also a test of patience and perseverance, for depending on the elaborateness of the pattern, a single sari can take anything from two to six month to embroider.

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