My Love Affair with the Gharara

My love affair with the gharara started a very long time ago. Brides always wore them and looked beautiful. My mother wore it for her wedding. It has always been the go-to dress to wear at weddings.

From a family wedding where all of us wore ghararas.

The gharara is a beautiful dress and one that I absolutely adore. If prepared in the traditional way, with each leg nice and wide, it screams elegance and royalty. For those who don’t know, the gharara is a very traditional dress that was originally worn by Muslim women in the northern parts of India, mainly in Uttar Pradesh. The entire outfit consists of a dupatta (the veil), a kurta (tunic) that that goes up to the mid thighs, and the gharara itself, which is a pair of wide two-legged pants that flare out below the knee where they are pleated and stitched. The gharara pants alone are generally made with at least six meters of fabric (could be a lot more), that is cut into little pieces and stitched up in a certain way to create a dramatic flare. The fabric could be plain or already printed, but if embroidery is to be done, it’s done after the cuttings are stitched up loosely for the pattern to look seamless.

In our family, all ghararas are made by my father’s aunt, who learned the art of gharara making from my grandmother and great-grandmother. No matter who needs a gharara stitched, whose wedding it may be, fabrics are bought and given to her to work her magic.

I couldn’t wear a gharara for my wedding day as my dress was a traditional Hyderabadi Khada Dupatta instead (my husband is from Hyderabad). I wore a gharara for my walimah, and since it was in Hyderabad, and I wanted my side of the family to display our culture, I made sure all the women in my family wore ghararas too, all the way from my grandmother who couldn’t remember the last time she wore one, to my cousins, and every single woman of my extended family that flew in from Delhi for the event.


My sister-in-law got married in April in what was a very sudden and quick affair, with everything happening within a span of just three weeks. With such little time on our hands, outfit planning wasn’t exactly a luxury I had, especially living so far away and reaching just a week before the wedding. I took this as an opportunity to finally wear something I had always wanted to get my hands on- my mother’s wedding outfit. 

My mother’s wedding gharara was a beautiful magenta in silk, with very delicate and subtle little dots on it made with golden zari. The dupatta, a magenta chiffon, in true gharare ka dupatta style had a zari jaal in exactly the same design as the gharara itself, with golden kiran all around. It wasn’t elaborate, was very understated, but so beautiful and elegant. So I asked my mother to pull it out, and get a new kurta made for me, and bring it with her to Hyderabad for the wedding. 

Mr. Lucky wore a traditional Sherwani so I decided to keep him in the picture instead of brutally cropping him out like I did our heads.

In fact, I also asked her to get a little gharara made for TheLittleMiss, and as always, my father’s aunt worked her magic on a beautiful fabric bought by my mom, and a little maroon and golden gharara came to be. Although the heat and jet-lag really got to her and I later regretted dressing her up so much, but oh, she looked like a little nawabi princess. 

The only picture of TheLittleMiss and I from the entire wedding function. The only time she was with me too before my mom took over.

Have you ever worn the gharara? Do you love it? Or is there some other outfit that holds a special place in your heart like the gharara does in mine? Would love to hear your thoughts!

17 thoughts on “My Love Affair with the Gharara

  1. Love them, but haven’t worn any in a while. I am third generation West Indian of East Indian ethnicity and have no particular loyalty to any province in India. I love all Indian clothing, and typically, my daughter & I would wear them for all special occasions. In my Indowestern lifestyle, they also fit the bill really well for formal occasions. My daughter wore an (I think it’s anarkali, or is it abaya) style outfit for her graduation from high school. My mom sewed those wide legged pants while I was growing up, and she always had a crop of my cousins, or her granddaughters to outfit as well.Can’t speak to whether they really fit the traditional style as much as an adapted version, but we were dressed up for sure!

  2. That is such a beautiful attire….I am in love with this gharara story….I wish I had one too…added to my doon to buy list :p @momtasticworld

  3. I have always adorned Ghararas but since im kind of chubby, i could never muster the strngeth to sport one. The picture where you and your baby girl are wearing one, is an adorble pic!!

  4. I just love this article of yours. I came across this while researching material for a seminar I am doing on Ghararas. I am currently doing Masters in Fabric and Apparel Science from Delhi University. I would love it if you could get in touch with me and help me with my report. It has been extremely hard gathering information on ghararas, like how did they originate, what all kinds of styles there are and most important of all how are they constructed.
    I would really be looking forward to your reply. I just can’t believe that I didnโ€™t come across your blog before since I have been researching for months.
    Please do get back to me

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