From Mom-in-law to Daughter-in-law with love
Traditionally sought and culturally rich, gharchola (sarees/odhanies) are a way of welcoming the new bride
into the groom’s home – with respect and affection. Groom’s mother gifts a gharchola – traditional grid-patterned
, unstitched length of embellished fabric – to the bride. The daughter-in-law drapes it over her head –
as a way of her mother-in-law’s aashirwaad (blessing) – at the time of wedding rituals.
The draping of Odhani/Dupatta on the shoulders and head of a girl is also symbolic of the promise that
comes with the Indian marriage – the promise that post marriage the groom and his family would take care
of the bride – in every way. With this profound gesture, the mom-in-law takes the new bride under her wings!
What does Gharchola mean?
Ghar+Chola – made of two words ‘ghar’ (home) and ‘chola’ (cape/clothing)– the word gharchola literally translates to ‘home apparel’ or the outfit worn at home. However, the contextual meaning of the word is more complex. Here ‘Ghar’ refers to the bride’s new home, her husband’s home. And, ‘Chola’ contextually means her wedding costume. The new bride enters her marital home wearing a Gharchola on her head and shoulders – implying she comes with everyone’s blessings and good wishes.
The origin of Gharchola
Originating from the Khambat(Cambay) region of Gujarat, Gharcholas have been used for years in Gujarati weddings. Khambat was a very popular port and centre of trade in India, till about 16th century. Merchants from all over the world visited this important trading centre that was also famous for silk manufacturing. The weaving of Gharcholas is traced back to this port city.
A sub-set of Bandhani (Indian tie and dye art), Gharcholas was earliermade by traditional weavers and Bandhani workers. The dying process of Gharchola is historically associated with Jamnagar, as it’s believed that the water quality of Jamnagar is excellent for producing the rich red colours of Gharcholas.
What exactly is a Gharcholas?
Gharchola is a saree, traditionally used as a head/ shoulder drape, called as Odhani/ Chunari/ Chundari. Since it is a wedding apparel, it is usually in auspicious colours of red/ maroon and green/ yellow. A variant of the popular Bandhani saree, Gharcholas is distinguishable by its typical grid pattern.
Gharcholas and Panetar
Panetar is the traditional wedding attire in Gujarat. It is the gift to bride from her maternal uncle. The characteristic red and white/ maroon and off-white saree or lehenga choli called Panetar is actually the wedding ensemble of the bride. Most Gujarati brides begin their wedding ceremony and rituals dressed in rich, heavily embellished Panetar. Gharchola, the gift from mother-in-law, is later draped, along-side Panetar (the wedding saree/ensemble), such that it goes over her head and shoulders.
. This tying together of Gharchola and groom’s stole signifies the beginning of the marital bond. Hence, Panetar and Gharchola are integrally linked.