Mekhla Chador, the traditional attire of the women of Assam, is a concert of three pieces of cloth. Women in Assam swear by the motif-rich Mekhla Chador, a two piece garment. It is a treasured traditional dress of Assam worn since times immemorial. Mekhla is the skirt-like lower part and Chador, the upper part draped with pleats. The ‘Mekhla’ is a kind of sarong, enveloped round the waist. It thus resembles a Lungi. The Mekhla is topped off by a blouse, an upper garment. Furthermore, the front portion of the body is wrapped in a cloth-piece, called ‘Chador’. Mekhela Chador is easy to drape, extremely comfortable and looks good on anyone. It is being worn by women of all ages in Assam.
While a Mekhla petticoat is a thick garment with wide borders, the Chador, is lighter in weight for better management. Mekhlas can come in vibrant shades, such as red, for wedding ceremonies. The motifs on them are often inspired from features of flora and fauna and other valuable treasures of the region.
Types of Mekhla Chador
The Mekhela Chadors are usually found in three varieties which are differentiated on the basis of the silk being used in its manufacturing. The different varieties of Mekhela Chadors are:
Muga Mekhela Chador: Muga Mekhela Chadors are the ones that are being made by using the Muga Silk and are believed to be so durable that they often outlive their owners.
Eri Mekhela Chador: Eri Mekhela Chadors are the ones that are being made by using the Eri Silk and are usually soft and warm in nature.
Paat Mekhela Chador: Paat Mekhela Chadors are the ones that are being made by using the Paat Silk and are generally white in colour, ranging from brilliant white to off-white.
Traditionally, made either from Muga or Paat, the attire has adapted itself to a limitless variety of weaves. Bihu dancers wear muga Mekhla with red, floral motifs while Assamese brides wear the Paat kind, sometimes with ‘Riha’, a wrap over the chador. Tribal communities have their own variations of the Mekhla, distinguished by their colour, design and motifs.
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