Kahaani Gharara ki : the story of the Gharara



A gharara (Hindi: ग़रारा, (Urdu: غراره‎) is a traditional Lucknowi garment,traditionally worn by Muslim women of Hindi Belt.

It consists of a kurti (a short, mid-thigh length tunic), a dupatta (veil), and most importantly, a pair of wide-legged pants, ruched at the knee so they flare out dramatically. The knee area, called the gote in Urdu, is often elaborately embroidered in zari and zardozi work. Each leg of a traditional gharara is made from over 12 metres of fabric.
The upper part of the gharara is called paat or kunda and the two parts are separated by a piece of cloth called rumaali or miyaani. On top would be a nefa which would be used for kamarbands to hold it up.
IMG_2263.JPGTraditionally there is lachka gota stitched on the joint of the paat and gote so as to hide the joint. This used to be pur silver and gold work once upon a time but is now metal lace is this joint which diffrenciates a gharara from a sharara
If you notice in this there are just two parts in the piece but no gather on the knees. This was the adaptation for modern times when material became expensive and actually not many people were available to stitch the gharara. A sharara is a cross between a gharara and a lenhga.

My beautiful niece at her wedding with my younger niece and sister in law – all dressed in ghararas but with a modern twist.
My one grouse against the Madhuri Dixit starrer Dedh Ishqiya was that she was shown wearing a sharara. Ladies from traditional families and she was shown in Mahmoodabad – didn’t wear the ‘new-fangled’shararas. They wore ghararas.
This photograph of Mrs Naazni Naqvi on her wedding used to be a must for all newly weds. I remember in Lucknow a studio called Mull used to be an expert in it and everyone from my family went there for formal wedding portraits.
Of course now that people are becoming more and more adventurous we have something called the farara. This is fitted tightly on the thighs made of stretchable material.
We alsIMG_2256.JPG
we also have an adaptation called a palazzo which is neither a sharara nor a pyjama but a cross of the two. It’s very popular these days and varies from a chauda paincha like the men’s pyjama to more gher or gather like a sharara.
But who can compete with the stately gharara?
Kareena Kapoor in a heirloom gharara at her wedding
I give you instructions on how to cut the gharara from Uma’s site mentioned above.
My eldest sister who learnt how to stitch it says this picture doesnt have the kalis which are part of the kanda or paat which is essential
The top part consists of this as per Apa’s drawing
Ghararas used to be regular wear at home. I remember my grandmother wearing them. Later when times were not so gracious and there was a shortage of tailors to stitch it, cloth became expensive she shifted to churidar kurta. But ghararas were a must for weddings and still are.
I still remember all the love and time that went into it into the ghararas my mother made and embroidered with lachka work the ghararas for my sisters and me.
Then there was the farshi gharara. The word comes from Farsh or the ground, which the gharara trails on .
There were two ways to wear a farshi gharara: Let it trail like a train or drape it over your arm.
I have a farshi gharara belonging to my aunt and just looking at it makes me nostalgic
There are ghararas still being made in Lucknow from where we get it made.
The brocade work is embroidered either on the patti of dupatta or as a jaal all over.
The work depends on the cost
Traditional wedding ghararas are very heavy with the dupatta itself weighing a few kgs. This is from my wedding album

Further reading


NOTE : In case anyone is interested in getting ghararas made please contact Mrs A. Zaidi on 00917668123456


Comment List

  • Rabab Naqvi 23 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    Amazing. Enjoyed reading it.Remembered Mummy in Ramnagar always in pure silk gharara

  • Sumaira 23 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    I think your blog does full justice to one of the most graceful outfits I have ever had the pleasure of wearing. Hoping to be share a slice of the era you speak about when I wear a traditional gharara at my wedding next month. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Nasreen Bhumbra 23 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    Very informative. Brought back memories of all the celebrations when we got to wear ghararas!

  • vision 23 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    Great reading. Hope the good traditions could be brought back.
    Got some new information.

  • Deeba Zaidi 23 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    A very good article indeed. My mother used to stitch the best of ghararas. I have quite a few and consider them my priced possession. It’s very hard to find a person who can make the traditional old style ghararas. So proud of our heritage. I wish I had learnt he art of gharara making from my mother as well on how to make Razai or Dullais.

    • samreen 26 / 08 / 2015 Reply

      any chance you can help me with from where to stitch a gharara ?
      i am so lost , need a nice gharara soon but every single page or website seems fake 🙁

      • Rana Safvi 27 / 08 / 2015 Reply

        Gharara studio is good

        • Deeba 27 / 08 / 2015 Reply

          Hello Samreen,

          I wish I could help. I am here in US for over 30 years. My mother passed away.

          Only way a good Darzi can try to make it if I can give my original Ghazala and he can get idea how it’s done properly.

          I doubt it any one is available on web.
          Good luck!

          • Rana Safvi 27 / 08 / 2015

            My niece was getting it made in Lucknow but now she’s moved . Will try to get you a no. Thank you Deeba Khala

      • Hina Hasnain 24 / 12 / 2015 Reply

        Hello. I am Rana mami’s niece and a personal designer. We specialize in gharara sets. Do check out page http://www.facebook.com/abizacouture
        Thank you,

  • Maliha Irfan 30 / 09 / 2014 Reply

    Hello, I throughly enjoyed reading the kahani , I myself am a great fan of gharara’s . I have three of them but hardly get a chance to wear them. I have a question do u get them made as well? If u can plz do let me know. Regards Maliha

    • Rana Safvi 30 / 09 / 2014 Reply

      Thanks a lot. I know someone who gets them made. If you email me your no. I will forward it to her. She will contact you

  • khurram 30 / 09 / 2014 Reply


    • Rana Safvi 30 / 09 / 2014 Reply


  • Poonam ARORA 01 / 10 / 2014 Reply

    Very informative I enjoyed reading the kahani of ghararas

    • Rana Safvi 01 / 10 / 2014 Reply

      Thank you

  • kaneez zehra Razazi 08 / 12 / 2014 Reply

    Always ready to see this post again and again…my lil one’s looking so pretty. 🙂
    Believe or not I had a cotton gharara made of fine lattha [long cloth] wore it to school fancy dress occasions [ in American School ] It was my mother’s, she had lovely embroidered salwars also…

  • Geetali 10 / 12 / 2014 Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your piece. Brought back some happy childhood memories.

    • Rana Safvi 10 / 12 / 2014 Reply

      Thank you

  • Sarah 24 / 08 / 2015 Reply

    Loved the article! Can anyone tell me the measurement n proportions of farshi gharara n pyjama cutting?

  • Afshan 05 / 12 / 2015 Reply

    Every once in a while I check the web for information on the gharara and come up with little. It was great to see your site with all its details and beautiful Urdu words.
    I only wish you could have laid out photos of some old ghararas so one could see their patterns – do Kali, char Kali, bavan(52) Kali which I think is also the farshi – and the traditional color combinations.
    But thank you for what you’ve put together.

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