An exotic handloom silk sari of Odisha that embraces Lord Jagannath is the Khandua sari. In today’s times, they are the hottest pick of the brides.
These are simple, elegant saris made by the process of tie-and-dye technique, which make the wearer look quite attractive. Looking back, Khandua saris have made a journey from the shrines of Lord Jagannath to the trendy wardrobes of fashion freaks. The saris have their origin in Nuapatna and Maniabandha in the district of Cuttack, and owing to their place of origin, these saris are locally popular as Kataki or Maniabandhi.
The word ‘Khandua’ is derived from Oriya that connotes the garment worn in the lower half of the body. History puts forth that during the reign of zamindar or gajapatis in Odisha, the Khandua saris were made and transported to the Lord Jagannath shrine in Puri.
Neelkantha Deva, the bygone zamindar of Badakhemundi in the district of Ganjam, was offered a Khandua silk sari called caukandika. A special kind of Khandua ensemble measuring 12 feet called Kenduli Khandua dons Lord Jagannath. It bears verses from Jaydeva’s Gita Govinda. Kenduli happens to be the birthplace of the famed poet, Jayadeva. The ensemble is generally draped around the lower half of Lord Jagannath’s idol.
A typical Khandua silk sari mostly comes in soft colours like red, orange, and the red colour is extracted from the Sal tree (Shorea robusta). Other eye-catching collections are in Persian pink and copper brown with a line of elephants woven on one side of the sari.
There are motifs in white silk threads woven on the base of the sari comprising multi-petalled flowers, elephants, considered auspicious, and Lord Buddha surrounded by trailing vine with peacocks. There are motifs of a rare Orissan animal known as Nabagunjara — a mystical figure formed of nine different animals and considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
The craftsmen of Nuapatna and Maniabandhi weave the colourful saris that are without any motifs in borders. There are around 2,500 families of weavers in Nuapatna and Maniabandhi who have taken up weaving profession. A single craftsman takes around a week’s time to weave a piece of Khandua sari. Khandua saris come only in silk fabric and can cost anything from Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000.
These saris are quite reasonably priced, unlike Vichitrapuri silk saris, since single silk thread is used in weaving the fabric. The raw materials, like silk threads and vegetable dyes, are procured from Bangalore and Kolkata. For those interested to pick up some authentic Khandua saris, Utkalika or Boyanika showrooms owned by Odisha Government are the options.