The Odisha Pants drape

There are more than 200 drapes worn across India. Each drape is unique, creative and functional for those who wear it. In a series of posts, Nikaytaa will be sharing videos and demystifying the drapes she wears. In this post, she will speak about her love for the Pants drape especially the Odisha dancer drape.

The dancer drape from Odisha is versatile, functional, and comfortable. It is a super practical drape for someone who is on the run. It is simple to wear, easy to carry off, and adaptable. With one change in the draping of the pallu it becomes a dress, a halter, and a gown.

History of the pants drape

People across India wear the pants drape albeit with some variations. It is worn by those who need to perform a range of functions such as riding, swimming, walking, and running. For example, the dancers of Odisha wear the Sari as pants assisting big strides across the stage.

Rani Lakshmibai wore a Sari while riding a horse and fighting the British army. The Koli fisherwomen of coastal Maharashtra wear the pants as shorts. They fish in the ocean, walk across the beach soaking wet, and squat in the marketplace to sell the fish: all in a day’s work. Maharashtrian women, mostly brahmin, wear the Navvari drape. The Dhangad drape (below) is worn by the farmers of Savantwadi. The farmer in the picture below shared that the shorts allowed her to squat and work with ease all day. She pees with dignity while in the field and manoeuvres the cattle with efficiency.

Where and how do you wear the Odissi pants drape?

Nikaytaa wears the Odisha pants drape for work especially on days she has to be on her feet or ride a bike. She also wears the pants as evening wear where she drapes the pallu around her neck as a scarf. At times, she has also twisted her pallu like a rope and draped it around her waist like a rope belt. One can choose to hang the end of the pallu by your waist or tuck it in. Both expressions are super classy and fun. Nikaytaa also loves wearing a version of this drape during her 10K practice runs and will be wearing it on race day this weekend!

Dhoti drape with pallu as a scarf. Photo: Baishampayan Ghose

What Sari does this drape demand?

Nikaytaa prefers wearing a handloom Sari for the comfort and thickness of the material. She does not wear a pair of tights inside the drape and thus prefers the opacity the handloom provides. “The handloom drapes better than a power loom Sari”, she quips. In the feature photo of this post, she is wearing a handloom Maheshwari from TheLoomSaree. The Sari in the video below is one of her favourites. It is a handloom Sari from Tamil Nadu sourced from GoCoop.

The original Odisha pants drape needs a Sari of 5 or 6 meters in length. This is not a hard and fast rule. The length required can vary according to your height and girth. Those who are tall and/ or voluptuous might need a 7 or 8 meter Sari. It is suggested one tries different lengths to find their perfect fit.

There are many variations of the pants drape. The Maharashtrian Navvari and Konkani Koli fisherwoman shorts need a 9 meter Sari. The Madhava Kacche requires an 8 meter Sari.

Dhangad drape
Savantwadi farmer in Dhangad drape. Photo: Baishampayan Ghose

How does one go to the toilet in this drape?

As you’ll see in the video, the two separate portions wrap on each leg and tuck at the waist. The Sari has two separates that join at the pelvis area: one from the left leg and one from the right leg. When you need to visit the toilet, part the two sides and squat. This is possible only when you are not wearing a pair of tights inside. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to take a dump in this drape as well. In case you are wearing tights, there is no resort other than to disassemble the whole drape.

Nikaytaa has gone to pee wearing this drape and she didn’t have any accident; in case you were wondering. On the contrary, she says she felt happy that the Sari covered her skin. She felt relieved knowing she wouldn’t contract a UTI from the loo.

How is it worn?

Watch the video below!

Are you now feeling confident of wearing and carrying off the Odisha pants drape? Do try it and feel the exuberance hidden in the weaves of the Sari. Use the hashtag #TheIndianDrapingCo when sharing on social media. Feel free to leave comments on this post. Do share your experience with this drape or simply say “hello”!


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7 thoughts on “The Odisha Pants drape

  1. The pants drape is one of my favorite drapes, especially when I need to feel powerful. Perhaps, it’s Jhansi ki Rani’s spirit that overtakes me every time!

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