The Kasta sari (Marathi: नऊवारी साडी) is a style of sari draping is very similar to the way the Maharashtrian dhoti is worn. The word Kasta or Kacha refers to the sari being tucked at the back. Since this sari is usually worn using a single nine yard cloth, it is also referred to as Nauvari which means Nine Yards. Sakachcha sari is another term commonly used to refer to this style of sari.
It is the traditional Marathi style of sari which is worn without a petticoat. This style of sari draping is common among the Brahmin women especially in Maharashtra. This sari is draped in a way that the center of the sari is neatly placed at the back of the waist and the ends of the sari are tied securely in the front, and then the two ends are wrapped around the legs. The decorative ends are then draped over the shoulder and the upper body or torso.
Women of the Koli tribe also wear this style of sari but cut into two pieces. One piece is worn around the waist while the other piece is used to cover the upper part of the body. It is taken on the head over the left shoulder in the Maratha fashion. The Koli women are decorative with both dress and ornament and this sari of nine yards of cotton fabric is draped adeptly over the hips so that the figure is graceful in movement.
The traditional 'nauvari' retains its charm even in the modern age. Also known as 'Lugada', this sari is now regularly worn mostly by elderly Maharashtrian women. However, in the contemporary fashion, the trend of wearing nine-yard Kasta sari is picking up fast in the younger lot that wants to keep the age-old Marathi tradition alive. It requires perfect technique, practice and perfection to wear a nine-yard saree. Mostly worn in dance competitions, "lavani" and Maharashtrian folk dance, the Kasta sari has surely made a great come back in the fashion industry. Prashant Shalgar, a nine-yard Kasta sari seller, said, "It has always been in demand. Though earlier only elder generation women would pick up these sarees but now many young girls go for it for its elegant looks. Prashant Kolhe, a management executive, said, "My grandmother used to wear nine-yard saree. It would look great on her. She used to carry it very well. I guess Indian sarees are the best fashion wear available on the globe. You cannot look graceful, trendy and comfortable in any other dress.(subscription required) Women dabbawalas in Mumbai are dressed in nauvari saris.
To make the wearing more easy and comfortable, the market is all set to sell stitched Kasta sari for those who love drape it. Sandhya Kenjale, another Kasta sari seller, says, "I started stitching nineyard sarees because I could never drape it properly. For draping a nineyard saree, you should have some guidance for it is a technique to wear it. There are many occasions when women choose to wear nine-yard sarees but the drawback is they do not know the technique. Ready-to-wear nine-yard saree is the perfect solution for such problems. Just wear it like a salwar put the pallu over the shoulder and you are dressed in few minutes. Also, teen-aged girls are seen wearing it in their school or college gatherings. Many brides are now taking help of such ready-to-wear nine-yard sarees. With a wide range of them available in the market, buyers have a lot of choice. Available in Bangalore silk, Belgaum silk, pure silk, Orissa silk, nine-yard sarees are priced reasonably. "Prashant Shalgar added, "Marathi movies are responsible for keeping the traditional wear alive. To make it easy, these sarees are now stitched and sold in the market". Shobhaa De in her blog told that she suggested to Mukesh Ambani that the cheerleaders of Mumbai Indians can wear the traditional nine yard kasta sari and perform dance routines for the local lavani.
On the contrary, some consider the Kasta sari has fallen out of favour currently. It is considered far too revealing. It is rarely seen in the cities. This type of sari is regularly made fun of in films, portrayed as some sort of “sexy” garment, meant to titillate. In reality the Kasta sari embodies freedom for women. In a way it is similar to the dhoti as it allows leg movement and the ankles are left free. But today the Kasta sari will only be considered decent if distorted to hide every inch of a woman’s body.
Kasta saris are considered to be one of the most glamourous outfits for women in Bollywood films, Although mostly they are worn in song sequences. Generally in modern Bollywood fashion, the pallu is fully wrapped around the waist rather than on the shoulder and to cover the blouse or choli, folded chunri of contrast color is pinned up. Also the hairstyle on is step-cut up to shoulder length with smart nose ring or Nath and Chandrakor Bindi.
The most famous example of Kasta sari in Bollywood is the song sequence of "Humko Aaj Kal Hai Intezaar" in the film Sailaab (1990) featuring Madhuri Dixit in a yellow and green Kasta sari. Another recent example is of Kim Sharma in the film Tom, Dick, and Harry (2006). She played the role of Bijlee, a fisherwoman, for which she appeared in Kasta saris of different color throughout the entire film.
The first look and promos of Agneepath, the 2012 remake of the 1990 Hindi film of the same name was released which featured actress Katrina Kaif dancing for an item song "Chikni Chameli" in a yellow kasta sari. Actress Vidya Balan dressed in a red kasta sari along with lavani dancers performed live on stage her latest item number "Mala Jau De" for the audience, from Vidhu Vinod Chopra's upcoming film Ferrari Ki Sawaari. She told she was inspired from Madhuri Dixit's performance from Sailaab.