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Lehnga:

Lehnga choli, (Langa or Lengha) are available for women of all sizes. Lehnga 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 Lehnga Choli to her wedding than a sari due to the heavy weight of bridal saris. Women of all ages also love Lehnga Choli 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, these Lehnga suits 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.

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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 lehnga 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.

Dabka is a very detailed type of needle work which is done after the fabric has been put on the adda is completed. For a heavy lehnga at least three to four workers work at the same time on the same piece. If the lehnga is wanted urgently, then up to eight men sit on the adda and work together. First a thick cotton cord is stitched on the pattern to be embroidered. Then on this cord prefabricated zarri thread is looped on with an ordinary stitching needle.

Salma or nakhshi is cheaper than dabka and considered slightly less exquisite than dabka by some. But a wedding lehnga cannot be complete without nakhshi as it shines much more than dabka. As is rightly said nakshi puts life in the lehnga. This form of embroidery is also done by using prefabricated golden thread on the chhapai. Aarri work is a more delicate form of embroidery. It is done with both colored and golden thread. The thread is put on the tip of a pen-like needle which is passed through the cloth giving chain-stitch-like impressions.

Gotta work is done by using gold or silver ribbons of different widths giving rise to different patterns. These ribbons can be cut into small pieces and folded in the shape of leaves. They are also twisted and stitched on the cloth in the form of continuous triangles on the border. This work is mostly done is Jaipur in remote villages by family workmen.

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.

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