Being a true Pakistani Muslim girl, I love and own my share of ghararas. While a few I inherited, most of the ghararas I own were made for family weddings. And now, I am thinking of revamping them for future weddings. For those of you who don’t know, a gharara is a traditional Lucknowi garment, traditionally worn by Muslim women. It consisted of a kurti (a short, mid-thigh length tunic), a dupatta (veil), and most importantly, a pair of wide-legged pants, ruched at the knee so they flare out dramatically. The knee area, called the gota in Urdu, is often elaborately embroidered in zari and zardozi work (see picture). Each leg of a traditional gharara is made from over 12 meters of fabric such as organza, silk, satin, and even cotton.
Ghararas originated in the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh during the era of the Nawabs, aka royalty/feudalism. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was considered an everyday attire among Muslim women and girls particularly among the Nawab families. They were seen as representative of the status of the person wearing them. Ghararas were also made popular in Pakistan & Bangladesh in the 1950’s and 1960’s with popular public figures like Fatima Jinnah and Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan wearing them. Although they are not worn as everyday garments today as they once were, they still remain as popular wedding and Eid attire in Pakistan & Bangladesh.
I see many actresses and fashionistas today experimenting with traditional ghararas with more modern and less conservative twists. So today I would love to show how you can revitalize your old ghararas and turn them into something fresh for any wedding or Eid event.
1. Cotton Ghararas
These versatile and comfortable ghararas come in pretty floral prints with minimal bling bling, which are great for dholkis and Eid. How about getting a white chikankari or chikan kurta made? You can add a sparkly sequined dupatta or a colored chunri dupatta to give it more color and flamboyance.
2. Crop Tops:
How about pairing your ghararas with crop tops and for a more Muslim appropriate twist, add a sheer kurta or a long koti? This would be perfect for a mehndi, where conservatism is not the game.
3. Western Tops
Think tank tops, button-down shirts, or even t-shirts for low-key print opulence. Add a mesh or tissue dupatta for a flair. Perfect for Eid or traditional bridal shower events. Add a designer clutch and you are good to strut your stuff in any party.
4. Different Ethnic Tops
This would be kind of fun, but, how about adding ethnic prints to your ghararas? Traditionally, only opulent and luxurious fabrics were chosen for this special dress. But, why should that always be the case? To make them more quirky and show your fashionista’s personality, how about using Sindhi Ajrak, mirror work, ralli, or even Native American prints to your gharara outfits? I wouldn’t use just one loud print and overwhelm the observer,; just play around with different fabrics like pairing this Susi fabric with a Balochistani worked top. Cute!!!
5. Sari Gharara:
This is another fun trend started by Ayesha Omar and currently used in Maheen Jabbar’s designs. For a more dramatic yet understated effect, use light-colored or even mono-chromed fabric to make your gharara and use a worked dupatta and wrap it around like a saree’s pallu. This would be a great modernized look for any wedding.
We can all put some effort into designing our outfits and stand apart from the crowd by adding personal touches. Maybe a psychedelic dupatta or a hand-painted kurta; maybe using a creative fabric to make the gharara, are all surefire ways to excite the visual senses. Let me know what you think of this editorial. Happy Shopping!!!