Lengha choli, (Langa or Lehnga) are available for women of all sizes. Lengha Cholis have a beautiful history in India. When the Moguls invaded India in early BC they brought this unique skirt and blouse combination with them. Today’s bride is more likely to wear a Lengha Choli to her wedding than a sari due to the heavy weight of bridal saris. Women of all ages also love Lenghas for formal occasions and dress occasions. Women just can not go wrong with a fashion item that has been in fashion for hundred of years.
Extremely beautiful and suitable to all female shapes, Lenghas are often hand decorated in the traditional designs of India such as zardozi embroidery. During the period of Indian royalty, these Lehnga designs became legendary and were made with real gold, silver and precious stones. Just as in ancient times, these Lehnga suits are still hand decorated to keep it as true to tradition as possible.
During initial times, the lehnga was merely a piece of fabric tied around the waist with the ends of the cloth left loose. The fabric was held at the waist with a metal girdle. But soon with the increase in its popularity, the lehnga went through various transitions to suit the convenience of the women. The ends of the waist fabric were stitched. To make it more comfortable, its narrow width was increased by introducing more pleats on the waist, so as to make it easy to walk for the women. The metal girdle was replaced by stitching a peace of cloth to the waist of the lehngas called nepaha and a piece of rope running through is called nara.
The lehnga reached its peak of development under the Mughal kings. It was the best answer the Indian queens could give to the rich Muslim pehsvaz dress of the Mughal royal women. The interaction between the two communities was further increased by the bazars organized by the Mughal kings where both the sellers and the buyers were women. The dupatta (the Hindustani name given to the orhani by the Indian Muslim women) became almost a mark of respect for the women. It was mostly two and a half yards in length and one and a half yards in breadth. It was used as a headdress and also to increase the beauty of the lehnga. Mostly the dupatta was made of a thin material and to give some more weight to the cloth, golden lace or tassels were attached to the ends. The choli was also developed the cover the arms but the length, however, usually remained above the navel, revealing the slim waist of the women. The fabrics used to make the lehnga are in fact the same as those used under the great Mughal King, Akbar; silks and brocades. The dupatta is now made of silk, linen of chiffon which is a new development.
The popularity of lehngas has creased proportionately with the times. In fact, in northern India it has very successfully replaced the traditional sari as a wedding dress. Now Indian brides prefer to wear lehngas which enhance their beauty and charm. The dress is mostly made in red which represents excitement and passion; orange which is a blend of yellow and red; colors so contrary in character– produces mystical effects on the mind; pink possesses all the powers and vividness of red without its frenzied impetuosity and violence. The beauty of this royal dress however lies in the fine embroidery or zari handwork done on it. This zari handwork done on the lehnga is of a very special quality and is done mostly by Muslims staying in the 100 odd villages of Farokabad in Uttar Pradesh and Lucknow.
The lehnga is hence a masterpiece of all these forms of embroideries in various combinations. Hence we can say the lehnga is one part of history which still lives on in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, it is mainly used as wedding or party wear.
The most well known traditional Pakistani dress is the lehenga. It is worn for cultural occasions and various festivals, but the lehenga is traditionally wedding attire for Pakistani women. Women wear it with a short blouse known as a choli. The lehenga is like a skirt with embedded pleats stitched at the waist. Lehengas are ankle length but for casual occasion, even calf-length lehengas are a common and accepted style.
The Lehenga, originally worn by Rajasthanis and Gujaratis as well as women from Uttar Pradesh, is traditional Pakistani attire that is a favorite at theme parties as well as festivals, apart from being conventional wedding wear.
Significance of Lehenga
Special significance regarding the colour, material and festivals is noticed in Pakistani ethnic clothes. The crimson lehenga has a unique significance and is worn by most Pakistani Brides, symbolizing blood, humanity, benevolence and fire of the bright and deep shade of a red bridal lehenga. Lehengas are mostly worn during the wedding festivities by brides-maids in complementary colours the the bride’s outfit too besides close female members of the bride’s family.
Bridal attire in the continent of Pakistan is made mainly of the lehenga-choli teamed with various colored dupattas(long scarves designed heavily with gold or silver intricate working and hand-stitched zardozi borders, or those worked with beads as well as crystals.
Bright colours are very prominent in bridal attire in Pakistan and the lehenga is no different in this respect. The colours red and pink are the traditional bridal colours in Pakistan as well as in Pakistan where at times, the bride’s lehenga–choli set may be accompanied with an opaque chunri or a solid, heavily adorned with hand-embroidery odhni, which are synonyms of dupatta (head-scarf, often used to cover the face of the bride too).
Bridal wear is accompanied by matching jewellery, which is very important for achieving a sophisticated and complementary look for the bride. The appeal of this particular Pakistani attire is best perceivable when enriched with semi precious stones that are used in designs of the lehenga-choli-chunri ensemble to give it a more ornamental look or at least a customized fit for the bride with assured cuts in styling and stitching that suit her figure.
While purchasing a set of the lehenga–choli a few important points are to be kept in mind. These include personal facts such as the height and complexion of the buyer; the occasion plus budget are points that are to be noted as well.
The set should be bought suiting the persons’s body and persona i.e, if the figure of the person is petite or heavy on the bust area, or the bride-to-be has a pear shaped body, certain designs will complement her best features and tone down the unfavorable ones, so consult a professional designer for style advice.
It is important to choose the lehenga-choli combination in accordance with the body type as it has the ability to enhance or downplay the appearance of this traditional wedding dress.
A Lehenga-choli is made using a variety of fabrics with crepe and georgette being the most commonly used. Silk, lace mixed with lycra and chiffons besides metalilic net materials are currently very hot on the lehenga-choli scene too.
The lehenga-choli’s popularity has attracted many exporters of garments to deal in lehenga/ghagra from Pakistani manufacturers specializing in wedding wear and the lehenga-choli has thus shot up in demand for global buyers of the lovely traditional outfits, like the sarees along with salweer kameezs.
The designs of the lehenga-choli by manufactures are usually adopted on the fashion sets of Bollywood, which is the Pakistani Film Industry in Mumbai. Colours most in fashion for this traditional wedding wear are Rani-Pink, Sky Blue, Deep Reds, Maroons, Golden Yellows and Sunburst Oranges besides unconventional choices like gold-beige, teals, steel grays and mauves. Patterns for latest lehenga-cholis include delicate handcrafted Gold Zardosi worked cholis and skirt borders or even pleats or gathers with embroidery lines; backless blouses detailed with strings as well as bead works, mermaid-tail like skirts to lehengas are other new fashion trends.
Maintaining Your Lehenga: Tips
In the traditional wardrobe of a woman, the lehenga worn at her wedding is one of the most important and precious garments. The buying of a lehenga requires a lot of forethought and some basic aftercare in order to maintain its delicate look. It is advised by the manufacturers that wearers use a good quality fabric wash to rinse and revive their lehengas made of silk. In order to protect the colour of the lehenga from being destroyed these should be dried in a shade. This also helps in the removal of traces of oil and also revitalizes the fabric of the garment; just drip-drying is adequate and helps the lehenga regain its shape soon enough. Follow up by ironing it before storing away the lehenga in a white linen bag accompanied by a pot pourri bag for fragrance and protection from moths. (Alternately, lehengas can also be wrapped in an old sari before being put away).
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