Sri Lanka is home to numerous unique cultural groups, including Indian Tamilians and the Sinhalese majority, and it is essential to be aware of this fact. Other civilizations in Sri Lanka wear Kandyan Saree that are more representative of their own communities.
With over 15 million members globally, the Sinhalese community is the largest in Sri Lanka. The saree is said to have originated from the Bengali form, whose drapery resembles the Sri Lankan design. It is uncertain when the saree became the standard everyday clothing for Sinhalese women, although it likely existed as early as 543 BC, when the exiled Sinhalese descendants of Prince Vijaya colonized the island.
The term “Kandyan” is derived from the mountainous area of Kandy, where the style originated.
Sinhalese tradition regards the kandyan saree, or the osaria type, as the most sophisticated and adaptable garment a lady may wear. The midriff of this saree is covered with a lengthier blouse, which is supposed to make it more modest and heat-resistant. One may argue that the skirt’s absence of pleats makes the ensemble more figure-flattering for women of all sizes and shapes.
Other women in Sri Lanka, including certain Sinhalese groups, continue to wear cotton sarees draped in the traditional manner, similar to those worn in East India. Alternatively, working women choose the nivi form of draping, which entails running the pleats through the legs to allow for more freedom of movement.
Sri Lankan brides continue to wear the kandyan saree, although white wedding dresses are also traditional during reception events in this culture. As a garment of the ultimate beauty and elegance, the bridal saree is often crafted from silk and highly embroidered. In contrast, Sri Lankan women’s everyday sarees may be made of a cheaper, more adaptable fabric, such as cotton or linen, in which they may conduct housekeeping or do errands.
The kandyan saree is a two-piece outfit consisting of a blouse that covers the stomach and is tucked into the waist. This design is distinguished by the fact that the saree is not pleated at the waist, but rather at the shoulders. Compared to the usual method of draping a saree, this garment has a looser waist but a more constrained pallu.
Without pleating, the waist piece of the saree is tucked into a petticoat and wrapped around the hips. The saree is then pleated and draped over the left shoulder to form a back-falling pallu that does not flow freely like a regular pallu. The kandyan saree pallu is further distinguished by the border’s frilled motifs.
Before Westernization made dresses and trousers popular among Sri Lankan ladies, the kandyan saree was considered the most stylish garment among older generations. The fabric varies depending on the occasion, with bridal sarees made of silk and casual everyday sarees made of cotton, linen, or lighter textiles.
The kandyan blouse is the focal point of the ensemble. The sleeves are typically short, however they are generally gently puffed to provide a jacket-like appearance. This style has endured for centuries, and young ladies still wear it now. The kandyan blouse is much longer than other blouses; it covers the belly. Modern blouse patterns, however, have women drape kandyan sarees with blouses that stop short of the stomach or have longer or shorter sleeves, depending on their personal desire.
The saree itself is ornamented for a specific reason, but the frilled borders of the pallu are essential to the ensemble. The pallu is more intricately adorned with floral designs, religious symbols, and geometric patterns than the piece of the saree wrapped around the waist since it is pleated and exhibited more prominently.
Wedding sarees are often embellished with thick golden borders and embroidered patterns. These sarees are constructed on heftier textiles so that they can also accommodate beading and heavier embellishments. Again, the pallu is the focal point of the ensemble and will be shown more opulently than the remainder of the saree.
Although it is not as frequent to witness a contemporary bride or celebrity wearing the traditional kandyan blouse that covers the stomach, there is no denying that the style is still very much in vogue. The kandyan saree is a traditional Indian dress that is known for its easy elegance and attractive drape, making it an ideal choice for weddings and other ceremonial occasions.