The Assamese Mekhela Sador: A Booming Industry

Assam, apart from being popularly called as the “tea capital of India” is also well known for its traditional Mekhela Chadar also pronounced as Mekhela Sador by the locals. The garment though it looks like a saree, it never can be saree. If you wear it once you can never deny wearing it the next time.

Photo Credit: Eastern Photo Service

They are two pieces of cloth worn by women during multiple occasions, which comes in infinite colours. The two-piece saree is mostly draped on the top and on the bottom where the bottom being called as the “Mekhela” which is cylindrical in shape and is systematically folded into pleats to the right around the waist and is tucked in. The Sador is the eye candy and is tucked into the Mekehla’s upper portion at one end and the other end is draped around like a palla. The one big question that comes to people about Mekhela- sador is the material that it is made up of and where the production is being generated. You can get it mainly from cotton, Muga, Pat Silk and the golden silk material which is only found in Assam and nowhere else.

Photo Credit: Wild Mahseer

Sualkuchi is a small town in the state of Assam which is popularly called as the “Manchester of the East”. It is situated on the northern banks of the Brahmaputra river and is a hub for the centuries-old heritage of weaving. Many women in this district design Mekhela sador by using tradition methods. The bright, gold Muga silk is exclusive to Assam is very costly. It is not just a simple piece of cloth worn by the Assamese women but luxury and it has been highly appreciated by the fashion designers globally. The Muga silk which is exclusive to Assam was given the Geographical Indication status in 2007 and the GI logo in 2014.

Types of Mekhela Sador

  • Muga Mekhela Sador: Amongst all the other types of silk available in Assam, Muga silk is expensive. The silk is domestically reared in the outdoors and the name ‘Muga’ is said to be derived from the Assamese word Muga for the golden and yellow colour of the fabric. You will be surprised to find out that the Muga’s golden colour enhances even more after you give it a wash. This clothing can be worn both in the summers and in the winters.
Photo Credit: Guwahati Plus
  • Eri mekhela Sador: The ‘Eri’ has been evolved from the Sanskrit word Era which is a plant and is the food for the Eri worm. These Eri worms are found feeding on these plants. The Eri silk is less expensive in comparison with Muga silk.
Photo Credit: Sampa Das
  • Pat Mekhela Sador: Unlike the Muga mekhela sador which is golden/yellow in colour, the Pat mekhela sador is generally white in colour, ranging from brilliant white to off white.
Photo Credit: Tikli

The Mekhela sador are being produced in numbers in Sualkuchi town by local weavers, the produced are shipped and distributed to various other parts in India.  The popularity and demand for Mekhela sador is growing not just in Assam but it is slowly catching the eyes of the global market with the latest showcase being in the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Summer Resort 2013 by fashion designer, Vaishali Shadangule. The popular once’s that is widely fancied are the Muga and Pat silk and the cotton one are mostly worn by Assamese women while doing their daily household chores.

One need not worry about the maintenance of the clothing since it is a low maintenance attire without any hassle. The Muga Mekhela sador is considered an antique in every Assamese household and it survives generations. This beautiful piece of handwoven clothing can be worn by women of all ages for various occasions. Mekhela sador is not just any other garment but it is an emotion for the indigenous community of Assam.

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