Bihu Special: Assamese Mekhela Chador

Lucky are those people who have friends and acquaintances from almost every state of India. One gets the advantage of exploring a lot of stuff which inherently belong to a particular region of India (like Phulkari dupattas from Punjab, Block print fabric from Jaipur and Kashmiri shawls from Kashmir etc.)

Now, why am I doing a post on traditional Assamese wear: because 1)It is Bihu ­čÖé and 2)whenever I speak to my non-Assamese friends and the topic of regional clothes come up it is referred to as a Saree. I explain it to them why it is not a saree, because saree, you see, is a one piece thing, and Mekhela Chador is a two piece clothing My best way of explanation is :Mekhela is something you wear like a pleated lungi and stuck it to your petticoat and Chador is something you wrap it like a saree in the upper body.

For this post, I have consciously chosen two sets of Mekhela-Chador which are in contrast and I had asked my cook and domestic help, Sandhya, to help me out wear it so that I can click photos of her and she happily agreed.  These mekhelas were bought separately and the chadors were bought separately by me many many years ago and I could mix and match. Of course there are mekhela chadors which comes in set and look like a saree when worn(and that is why people get confused that it is a saree). When it comes to fabric, it could be silk, cotton and a lot of other fusion fabrics. I remember during Rongali Bihu, my aaita (Grandma in Assamese) would give us hand woven mekhelas, chadors or both as gifts (more on the hand woven culture in Assam will be share on the blog later this year) and it was so so special.

I will be posting about a traditional Assamese wedding soon so that matching “mekhela chador” concept that looks like sarees will be clear.

Tip: I am not a saree or a mekhela chador person (Whenever I see someone wearing a nice saree at work I walk up to them and compliment them but in my head I am saying don’t you fear that it might just open up). But what I do is I buy mekhelas and convert them to kurtis and dresses (more on that on some other day)

Wishing you all a very Happy Rongali Bihu and a very Happy New Year ­čÖé

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