Kandyan Saree: Top Designs & Facts

Coast of Sri Lanka

The Kandyan Saree, also known as the Kandyan Osari, is one of the numerous variations of the ancient garment sari, you can read more about the different types and materials used in sarees from our blog. The osaree/osari also known as the Kandyan Saree originated in Sri Lanka. This variation of the sari is known for the pleats below the midriff, giving the entire outfit a clean and elegant look, unlike the traditional counterparts. There are two key differences between the osari and the Indian saree; the neriya and the pota.

What is Neriya & Pota?

Best described, the Neriya is a short piece of cloth which wraps around the midriff. It is meant to be pleated although variations with loose cloth or embroidery giving the impression of the pleats are also common today. While the Pota also known as the pallu, but very different in the way it is draped. In Indian saree the stomach is covered largely by the saree and the pallu is often draped across one’s entire arm. However, in the osari the pota part of the saree starts from below the Neriya.

Where did this Saree Originate?

The origins of the osariya come from trends in South India and may have been introduced to Kandyan culture through the influence of the Nayakkar kings who ruled the Kandyan Kingdom before the advent of British rule. It is said that the pleats were used as a means to hide the belly button but due to the lack of proper research into the field, such a fact remains inconclusive. According to the book Costumes of Sri Lanka by K. D. G. Wimalaratne and Dian Gomes, the Indian saree was introduced in the early 20th century to Sri Lanka by the women of Moratuwa, and this style became infamously known as the ‘Moratuwa saree’. The Indian saree, as well as the osariya that had become a part of the Kandyan culture by then, became more popular because of the nationalist campaigns of Anagarika Dharmapala, who was against Sinhalese women wearing Western clothing.

Our take!

We at Madhuri believe that every tradition is beautiful as it represents the struggles and aspirations of a community and embodies their zeal. Sri Lanka has given the global fashion community many gems of inspirations and this saree is no exception. While conducting our research, we, however, found that this is a dying art form with the number of vendors diminishing. Check out a few of our designs that are carefully curated for the Kandyan Saree Fashion. While most of these are not exactly the coveted Kandyan Saree, we would love to customize them for you or you can get it done yourself too. Remember, apart from the Neriya and the draping style, these sarees share a common design. We use high-quality silks that will match the material used.

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