Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to Wear a Saree – Madisar, Iyer Kattu

First off, do you have a madisar? A madisar or madisaar is a Tamilian saree that’s about 9 yards (as compared to a normal 6 yard saree). You can only try this drape with cloth that long. There are many tucks in this drape and it took me several trials before I remembered them all, but once I understood the logic behind them, it wasn’t that difficult. I learnt it from an aunty who is a Palakkad Iyer so for all I know it is not quite what your grandmother wears.

Now, let’s start.

Wear your blouse and skip the petticoat &/or panties. You won’t need ‘em with all that cloth around you.

Take the non-pallu end of the madisar and make 8-10 3” wide pleats in your left hand. Shake the saree out as you go to ensure that the pleats go down to your ankles. Pleats can be more or fewer depending on body types, so I suggest you try 8 to start with.


Take the pleats in your left hand behind you to your left butt and turn slowly while guiding the saree with your right hand to make this circle:
left butt -> under left arm -> across midriff -> under right arm -> across back (over the pleats; pull the pleats out a bit over the new circle to keep them in place) -> under left arm -> navel.


Your grandmothers didn’t turn in circles but turning is easier to describe! (I stand and turn the saree around me.)

NOTE: In this step, if you look at your ankles, you should see the reverse side of the zari. Ensure this is so when you place the pleats at your left butt. If it doesn’t happen, you’ve pleated the wrong tip of the non-pallu end and need to fix it now. As you will discover, I do it a lot!

Tie a knot at the navel, with the long, long free end and a bit of the circle that you gently tweak loose.


Tuck a bit of the saree under your right heel and make sure you don’t let this go until your drape is completed. If you let it go then the drape reveals an unseemly degree of leg!


Now, cross a few inches of the saree to your right and tuck beside the knot.


Stick your left hand under all that material flowing towards your left, maybe 6-8” from the far border and make a wee ‘tip’.


Pick up that tip – no need to turn the saree – and tuck it to your left, beside the knot. The saree border, which has been horizontal all this time, is now mostly vertical and there is a U-shaped bunching below your tummy.


Now gather that material flowing down firmly in your right hand – keep those pesky left butt pleats out of the way with your left hand – and send all that material between your legs to your back.


I’m holding the left butt pleats with my left hand and the cloth I just sent between my legs is in my right hand. My right heel holds the saree down and the pleats at the left ankle hang free.


Tuck in as tightly as you can at your spine and use as much as you like, say 6-8” of cloth.

Now, at your back, using your right hand, pull a bit of the border to your right hip and make a small tuck. The border returns to horizontal.


Ease it back over your butt to finally bring it out front under your left arm. Cross it over your front (l -> r) to cover that U-shaped swathe you made when you sent the cloth between your legs.


In the photo I’m making small horizontal pleats to narrow the saree at my left so that it hangs above my left knee for easier movement.

The border will be the right way out now. (The photo above shows the wrong side because I had made a mistake in the drape. Went back and corrected it but forgot to photograph that particular stage!)

Now, send what remains of the saree under right arm -> across your back -> under left arm -> over your chest.


You need to have a little more material behind your shoulder than I do here. Also, note that the material needs to be higher over my left knee for free movement.

Bring the saree across your back (r -> l) -> under left arm and tuck at right hip keeping the border horizontal and displaying the pallu to best advantage. I ran a leetle short of cloth as you can see.


To end, curve the left butt pleats (remember those?) into the left 'leg' created by the drape, to cover most of the left ankle. Check to make sure that the portion of the saree that went between your legs is visible neither from the front nor the back -- showing it is considered indecent.

And that's it. Go show off to your grandmother. And if you need to use the bathroom you'll find that the cloth parts quite conveniently.

This post comes with apologies to SM for not being up last week – things were quite, quite mad here. In a nice way, I hasten to add.

EDITED TO ADD
M says

Wanted to add - if you're over 5'6" tall or built on er, generous lines, you can get special 10 yard saris. Secondly, for taller/heavier women the amt you tuck in the back (6-8" recommended in this post) - makes a big difference. Experiment with as little as you can get away with. For taller women, since you're tucking in less material, you may want to tie a nada around your waist as an added assist for tucking stability.


Reva recommends the nada too. I haven't found it necessary myself but I haven't worn a madisar for more than a couple of hours ever.

Also, Boo suggests short tights (cycling shorts) underneath the madisar for, um, modesty, should certain people worry about being left drowning chaddi-less in a sea of saree.

Instructions for the old-fashioned Bengali drape are available here.

61 comments:

MinCat said...

must delurk...its 9 yards madisari and 6 for normal...

Sue said...

MinCat -- LOL Sorry, my bad. 18 yards doesn't bear thinking of!

artnavy said...

very cool Sue- nice anklets too.

now how about the iyengar madisari which is diff and what I requested....

btw- anush again dressed up in the Bengali kids sari you got her, in Bangla style this Dussera when we visited one of our neighbours for Golu!

Sue said...

Art -- But I don't know how to do it the Iyengar way! For all I know, this might be a specialist Iyer way and not the common style either.

I love those anklets too. Mustafa, T Nagar.

Isn't the saree too small for Anush now? She seems to be shooting up really fast. Let me know when she outgrows it, I'll send the next size.

Rohini said...

You lost me at left butt... :p

mayG said...

what Ro said! LOL!

Anonymous said...

R
You lost me after the flat tummy photo.
How can you have such a flat tummy after having a baby ?

Sue said...

Ro, MayG -- *sigh* You are such children. Giggling at left butts indeed!

R -- I don't. Spent a great deal of time this morning cropping the flabby tummy out of these pics. Photographs are deceptive, remember.

yaadayaada said...

Wow! Awesome. This is what the internet needed. No one has instructions as clear as you have posted! Thanks! Will use this next time! Had to delurk.

GettingThereNow said...

Interesting!! This post made me want to try this drape! Could you please add another picture to the post? That of your back after you have draped the sari?

Sue said...

Yaadayaada -- Really? Now I'm more nervous than ever, but hey, thanks. :)

Cee -- The back looks thus: the saree going horizontally from my waist to knees/calf tops; right leg covered like a dhoti, left one shows the pleats. Oh and the pallu pulled over your back, not opened out. This drape really crushes the saree into submission.

Anonymous said...

Delurking to say wah wah! Very clear instructions and pictures!

Wanted to add - if you're over 5'6" tall or built on er, generous lines, you can get special 10 year saris. Secondly, for taller/heavier women (or for those like me - both taller *and* way heavier! :)) the amt you tuck in the back (6-8" recommended in this post) - makes a big difference. Experiment with as little as you can get away with. For taller women, since you're tucking in less material, you may want to tie a nada around your waist as an added assist for tucking stability.

M

Anonymous said...

sorry typo above - meant to say 10 *yard* sari, not 10 *year*....

Sands said...

I learned to tie this during my recent India trip. This will be a place to come back to jog my memory as and when I need it. Thanks. Nicely done :)

Anonymous said...

Very nice..very clear instructions with pics..will try it out soon..instead of standing before 2 people who get maha confused while they are trying to drape it for me and end up tying the saree reverse:))

-Bhavani

CAntaloupes.amma said...

I can see you have put a lot of effort .... while reading I quite lost you on the 4th step (or was it 5th).
But since there are pictures, I think I should be able to get this once I can lay my hands on a 9 yards saree.

Anonymous said...

Awesome.. delurking for this one! The nada after the 6-8 inches at the spine helps like someone pointed out. Am so jealous of that tummy now.. photoshoped or otherwise!

-Reva

starry eyed said...

Wow! I didn't pay much attention to your drape, what with your flat abs and lovely height. If I try this, I'll look dumpier than I already am. Hmph!

R's Mom said...

Ditto Starry :)

Sue said...

M -- Wow, thanks, that's a lot of helpful info. With your permission, I'll append it in the post itself.

Sands -- Cool, so you guys wear it this way, then? The Iyer pic on Wikipedia showed right/left inversion.

Bhavani -- LOL!

CA -- :D Don't forget to send me a pic when you do wear it, then.

Reva -- Not precisely photoshopped, just carefully cropped out of the picture. I'm afraid my 'skills' on Photoshop stop at image re-sizing and cropping.

Starry, R's Mom -- I felt like an awkward beanpole initially, to tell you the truth. I feel styles like this and the old fashioned Bengali one look far prettier on chubbier women. They flatter the curves. You can try it, you know, the saree is literally crushed into submission in this drape.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome to add my comment to your post :) Please do a similar post on the Iyengar sari as well!

M

Sue said...

M -- I would, but I don't know how to tie that one. If I find somebody to teach me, though, I'll be happy to post.

Shankari said...

Wow! Awesome instructions, I tie this occasionally but just till the pooja is over though. I am so worried about the saree falling off, I drape it right before the pooja, keep sitting throughout, get up for the aarti, then rush to change :)

I will defn come back to these instructions, should I need a memory refresh !

Anonymous said...

Oh this sounds too complicated :) The Bengali one seems simpler now. What about a simple sari? :)

Pallavi

Anonymous said...

Only correction is that I am not sure if the saree can be called Tamilian.. it is just Brahmin.. more than 90% tamilians cannot identify with a Madisari except for the nosy maami down the road..

Sands said...

Yes we do wear it this way :) I believe the one on wikipedia shows the iyengar style which comes over the left shoulder.

Just Like That said...

Phew! That sounds and looks complicated. But it also looks pretty!
And there's an Iyengar version too!!?
Am glad i'm a mallu! :-D simple tuck and drape.

But all said and done, traditional kancheevaram sarees look awesome draped this way. don't they?

Sue said...

Shankari -- Really? I haven't worn it for hours on end, but I feel quite secure in this, probably because of all the tucks that keep the waist tight.

Pallavi -- How about an ulta pallu? I was thinking of it, actually.

Anon -- Give us a name here, ma. I called it Tambram and changed to Tam just in case.

Sands -- Dang, I have to learn the Iyengar way. Now to find somebody to teach me...

JLT -- They do! I'm glad mine are cotton though because the thought of so much silk in the Bengal heat, just the thought of it, makes me sweat.

Anonymous said...

The iyengar style can be found by visiting the following URL (which I found, ironically enough, when looking for instructions on how to tie the madisar the Iyer way!)- http://www.nilacharal.com/anjarai/alangaram/madisar1.html

T

Sue said...

T -- Thanks, I will look it up.

SM said...

Thank you Sue, for the clear step by step instructions. As I was going thru the post, I was also validating how I tie against the stpes you've mentioned. Always, after the pleet insertion at the back, I tend to goof up the whole thing. Have taken a print copy, will use it next week for the ocassion thats coming up. Super cool, no maami has taught this clearly so far.

rrmom said...

http://rrtales.blogspot.com/2011/01/i-am-glad-i-read-sues-blog.html

Sue said...

SM -- I hope you managed to get it on right with the printout.

RRMom -- :) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Would a non-Brahmin ever get to wear this? Like if a foreigner tried it would they offend people?

Sue said...

Anon -- I'm not a TamBram and my neighbour taught me without any reservations. In fact, she seemed delighted at my interest.

Mindy said...

Hello,
This is a really great description of how to tie this saree. You've really made it less complicated. My only question is something minor, but I just need to know. In step one, whereby you make the 6-8 small pleats that are placed behind, are the pleats facing in towards the body (and therefore covered by the cloth to be wrapped around the body,) or do they face outward with the cloth to be wound around body being behind the pleats, technically, and then on top of them as the cloth is fully wound clockwise around the waist? Hope you understand what I mean. Thanks!

Sue said...

Mindy -- If I have understood your question correctly, then this is your answer: the breadth of the saree that forms the beginning of the pleats is outermost. If you have a decorative stripe, say, at the very end of your madisaar (non pallu end) then that decorative stripe would be uppermost.

The cloth comes around the body and goes over the pleats and winds around once more to the front.

Mindy said...

Thanks for the prompt response! :) Just a small note that needed clarity...

Anonymous said...

This piece of info is highly beneficial to lots of people...thats good work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks... You just saved my day!

Sue said...

Mindy -- No problem.

Anon, Anon -- My pleasure :)

vidu rame said...

Thanks for the info.. I am surely going to try it. My mother-in-law's ceremony is round the corner. Thank you once again. I hope I will successfully learn to drape the saree.

Sue said...

Vidu rame -- I hope everything goes well.

Swaram said...

Wow! U can wear a madisar and all so well? Awesome! I still take help even while wearing an usual style sari too :P *bends head and goes away*

Don't remember if I have delurked before, but have left my comments on a few posts today.

Dhanalakshmi Sundaram said...

This is great but some times we don't get time to wear it, so here is Readymade Madisar Pudavai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twlBR6JjAk0

please if you are interested and anyone interested in readymade madisar please call us +91 9629817154 / +91 9789086595

Shankari said...

Thanks for your clear, step by step instructions.

Chanced upon your blog while looking for some guidance for madisar. Love your blog and your lovely posts.

Sue said...

Swaram -- Don't be silly. :)

Shankari -- Why, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I just want to ask why Petticoat and Panties should not be worn when wearing madisaar ? is it because it is a "Madi" saree and stitched clothes to be avoided or someother reason ?

Anonymous said...

Still no replies to my question above :(

Sue said...

Anon -- I get a lot of spam these days and I'm afraid your 'Anonymous' login sent your first comment to my trash, so I never read it.

To answer your question, I don't thikn stitched clothes are a problem because the blouses are stitched. A petticoat is quite unnecessary because the fabric is draped thickly around you. Petticoats, to the best of my knowledge, came into saree wearing quite late, along with the blouses that the British found necessary for 'decency'.

The panties would be difficult to pull down although going to the bathroom in a madisar isn't a problem. It seems simpler to me to just do away with panties altogether.

Anonymous said...

"The panties would be difficult to pull down although going to the bathroom in a madisar isn't a problem. It seems simpler to me to just do away with panties altogether."

Thank you for the prompt response. The blog has been very useful. Tip from My Maami: Don't wear Petticoat, dont wear panties, instead wear a 'naadaa (tamil)' - white ribbon/tape to fit the fleet. The knot done initially should give the grip and not the white ribbon/tape. Also, the reason for 'no panties' is to visit the Loo, in case of urgency. :) Maami bets that if you wear one, its gonna make a mess before and after visiting the loo and doesnt recommend at all very strongly.. :) Thanks again, Sue for this wonderful blog.

Sue said...

Anon -- I agree with your Maami (although I haven't found a nada necessary so far) and you're very welcome.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

Really impressed with the way you have described it, really clear to understand. But, I'm actually here for a request. Any chance that you could do a similar post on the Maharashtrian / Brahmin style of wearing the 9 yards? That is something I would really love to learn, so the question.

Uma

Sue said...

Uma -- I tried to learn it myself but was not impressed with the results. Will give it another shot.

Dhanalakshmi Sundaram said...

Dear madam,
Please visit www.mamamami.in and there you can find how to wear madisar video.

We also make madisar saree in ready made.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

This is Uma. I had requested you a few weeks ago if you could post a similar blog post on the Maharashtrian/Brahmin 9 yards style which I was keen to learn. Did look up your blog a few times in the past weeks but didn't find any posts. Just wanted to know if you did manage to try again. Eagerly looking forward to the post.

Thank you.
Uma

Sue said...

Uma -- I didn't realise your need was urgent. I'll be in Pune next week and I was planning to carry my nauvari to learn the drape properly. I hope to post on that. You know the problem I have? I really need somebody to patiently photograph me at the various stages.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

Happened to get back to your blog again. First of all, congratulations on the news you have shared. Best wishes that you have a safe childbirth and that the child is healthy as well. I hadn't replied to your comment. To be honest, it wasn't very urgent but it was just that I was very eager. I realise you must have visited Pune but I didn't see a post. Now, not sure if you really will have the time to do this :-(
Uma

Sue said...

Uma -- Thank you very much. The real reason I didn't post is because what with the hubbub of family activity I did not get around to learning to wear my nauvari. I did bookmark the second video on this page some time ago. See if it helps?

Sue said...

Hey Uma, the third video is more helpful than any of the others on that page and I just remembered that a friend of mine in Calcutta is Maharashtrian and she has promised to teach me in person. I can't believe it never struck me to ask her before! You shall have your tutorial, just a lot later than we'd both have liked.

Dhanalakshmi Sundaram said...

Many people are very interested in wearing madisar, but time and some people body dose not allow them to wear madisar.
Readymade madisar saree are avilable in www.mamamami.in/shop
you can buy readymade madsar