India is a culturally rich country. It is rightly said that there is “unity in diversity”. From north –south and east-west, diversity can be seen in all realms, be it food, lifestyle, festivals, clothing, language and like. Today, let us visit the beautiful Indian state Gujarat. This state is famous for many things and Bandhani print is one of them.

Bandhani, also known as Bandhej, is a type of tie and dye technique in which the cloth is plucked with fingernails into numerous tiny bindings to form a figurative design. Bandhani means bandh (to tie or to bind) in Sanskrit. Indus Valley Civilization artifacts suggest that Bandhani dyeing was done as early as 4000 B.C. Historical evidence indicates that the first Bandhani saree was worn in a royal wedding at the time of Bana Bhatt’s Harshacharita. It was believed that wearing Bandhani saree brings good luck to the bride.

Bandhani is an art form that requires high level of expertise. The fabric is dyed and tightly tied with a thread at several points, thereby producing various patterns like Chandrakala, Bavan Baug, Shikari  etc. The pattern depends on the style of tying the cloth. Red, green, yellow, blue and black colours are mainly used in Bandhani. The colours used are mostly natural.

Once the fabric has been tightly tied, the tied area is dipped in for dye bath of bright colours. A cloth of one meter can have thousands of tiny knots. After the dye bath, the fabric is dried in open air. The weather determines how long drying will take. It takes 4-5 hours in summers and 7-8 hours in winters. The tied portion does not get coloured and remains the same colour as that of the fabric. Then the knots are opened to form dazzling designs and twirls. Depending upon the tying pattern of the fabric, it can produce different patterns like Ekdali (single knot), Boond (small dot with a dark centre), Trikunti (three knots) etc. Often Bandhani prints are adorned with mirror work to give them an elegant look.

There are several names for the final products such as Khombi, Gharchola, Patori, and Chandrokhani.

This is mainly a family trade and women of such families work in their homes. The fabric tying is easy but time consuming job. Bandhani is mainly made in Bhuj, Jamnagar, Mandavi, Jethpur, Pethapur, Anjar and Rajkot. However, Bhuj is known for its red and maroon Bandhani as the water of Bhuj gives a special brightness to these colours.

Bandhani has tasted great success, both nationally and globally. Several textile garments have been made from Bandhani using new colors, designs, and natural dyes developed by skilled artisans. Not only women clothes but Bandhani designs have found place in men’s garments too.

Bandhani designs appeal to Indians as well as to global consumers. It has found valuable space in different accessories and garments and has become a huge trend. A tradition that has existed for centuries, Bandhani will be here for many years to come.