Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Sari Mean?

A sari (or saree) is a traditional draped garment worn widely by women throughout south Asia and often seen in depictions of Hindu deities. Saris are worn as both everyday attire as well as decorative ensembles for special occasions. It consists of a length of lightweight cotton or silk cloth, five to nine yards long, which is wrapped around the waist to form a skirt, and the remaining length draped over the head or shoulder. It may bare the midriff, be worn over a petticoat, or with a fitted blouse on top. Saris are woven with one plain end to be concealed within the wrap. It is bordered on two sides with adornments and complemented by a one to three-foot section of fabric at the opposite end called the pallu.

Indian men also wear saris that are used to cover the lower part of their body and are sometimes pulled through the legs to form a kind of loose fitting pant. This allows for ease of movement and is the preferred style used during seated meditation.


Yogapedia Explains Sari

In India and within Hindu culture, the history of the sari is a rich one, dating back to the time of the Vedas. There are many cultural and symbolic variations in the ways a sari is worn, from the way it is pleated to its color.

Women born within the Brahmic caste commonly wear white unadorned saris to denote spiritual purity because Brahmin believe any form of dying is impure. White saris are often worn to ritual events like attending puja ceremonies. It is also associated with mourning, and widows in India are seen wearing white saris.

Red saris are the traditional choice for wedding gowns as red symbolizes fertility and is considered an auspicious color for young brides. Wedding saris are especially ornate, embellished with fine hand embroidery, glass beads, and gold thread woven into the fabric. These intricately woven saris are almost always made of silk.

Blue is a color avoided by the upper classes of India as the process of fermentation used to create indigo dye is also considered impure. In fact, it’s unusual to see any Indian woman donning a blue sari.

Yellow and ochre are associated with sadhus and those who have renounced their birth caste or family to pursue a spiritual life seeking liberation from cyclical rebirth.

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