The sari has been around for many centuries and it has stood the test of time. There are references to the sari in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is believed that Sita wore a sari at her wedding. The era of the Moghuls saw the fame of saris rising because they were strong patrons of the art of weaving and designing patterns on saris. The sari has not lost its sheen and style down the ages and continues to be a style statement for many and an everyday outfit of choice for many more. Majority of women in the rural areas wear a sari day in and day out, and it is more a necessity for them than a style statement.
Saris are made of different fabrics. You get to choose between the famous Benarasi silks from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Kanjivaram silks from the south, tussar silk from Bihar, Mysore silk from Karnataka, Narayanpet from Andhra Pradesh, Baluchari, Ikkat and Kotki from West Bengal. Then there are the chiffons, georgettes, crisp cottons, which are a very favorable choice considering the hot climate of India. Today designer saris are in vogue and very popular with the contemporary Indian woman. But there are a select majority who are very passionate about hand printed sarees and have a huge collection of them.
Hand printed sarees are the product of a cottage industry which is confined to rural areas of the country but they very much in demand by the urban woman who is on the move and wants to wear something that is light and elegant at the same time. A popular form of hand printing is block printing where patterns are printed onto fabric with the help of a wooden block which has patterns embossed onto it. Then we also have the Batik prints, tie and dye fabrics with different designs which are eye catching. These prints were originally done on cotton cloth but an improvement in instruments and better fabrics have increased the possibilities of using the above printing methods on those fabrics. Today it is not uncommon to find hand printed sarees in various silks, and all of the other above materials beside cotton. Hand printing is a slower process than machine printing but the end result of a hand printed saree is far more pleasing to the eye than a machine printed sari.
These saris find a market with the older generation of women because it is not too showy and yet retains its elegance and class. Besides, whatever the occasion, a hand printed saree always looks good and preserves its exclusiveness. Looking at the growing market for hand printed fabrics, designers have adopted this art form and are working on the different styles and promoting these hand printed beauties in a big way. They are also making subtle changes by way of color and design to make it desirable to the young woman. No matter how popular the newer varieties of sarees may be, hand printed sarees will always have their own niche in the global market.