Khandua Sarees: A Kaleidoscope of Colors and Tradition from Odisha

Khandua saree
Khandua saree

Khandua sarees are a true reflection of the rich heritage and cultural brilliance of Odisha. With their fine layout and harmony of colors, these sarees exude a rainbow brilliancy that captivates the hearts of saree enthusiasts worldwide. In this article, we delve into the fascinating history, unique characteristics, and intricate weaving techniques that make Khandua sarees a treasured part of India’s textile legacy.

The Distinctive Motifs of Khandua Sarees:

Khandua sarees are adorned with an array of captivating motifs, each carrying its own significance and charm. The star temple conch, rudraksha, fish, chakra, lotus, swan, peacock, parrot, deer, elephant, horse, lion, and the dance of devadasi are commonly woven into the fabric. These motifs are carefully selected to represent elements of nature, mythology, and the divine. Additionally, scenes from the Gitagovinda, showcasing the eternal love of Radha and Krishna, add a touch of timeless beauty to these sarees.

The Art of Tie-and-Dye:

The exquisite tie-and-dye technique used in creating Khandua sarees is an art in itself. Before dyeing, skilled artisans painstakingly bind small sections of the fabric using threads. The tied portions resist the dye, creating intricate patterns and designs. The border portion is warp tie and dyed, while the Anchol (Pallu) is weft tie and dyed. This intricate process results in a mesmerizing reflection of two-tone colors or shot effect due to the use of separate colors in the warp and weft yarns. Skilled artisans take great care in tying, untying, and dyeing the yarn until the desired colors are achieved, making each saree a masterpiece.

Weaving Techniques:

Khandua sarees are primarily woven using fly shuttle frame looms, with approximately 70% of weavers employing this method. The remaining 30% use pit looms. The weft yarns are tied in bunches at different places according to the design and then dyed. This dyed yarn is then wound onto pirns and used in the weft during the weaving process. The main raw materials used are silk and cotton yarn, ensuring a combination of luxury and comfort in the finished saree.

The Origins in Nuapatna:

The history of Khandua sarees is deeply intertwined with the village of Nuapatna, located in the Tigiria block of Cuttack district in Odisha. This small village, situated around 70 km away from Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Odisha, holds a glorious heritage in the form of these traditional sarees. The weaving community in Odisha, known as the bunakar artisans, were once appointed as Sevakas (servants of the Gods) and entrusted with the responsibility of weaving decorative cloths for Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra. These decorative cloths soon became known as Khandua sarees, gaining popularity across the region and beyond.

Nuapatna is not only the birthplace of Khandua sarees but also a hub of traditional weaving. The village is characterized by rows of houses, each housing a weaving workshop. The rhythmic clatter of looms can be heard throughout the village, creating a symphony of craftsmanship. The weavers of Nuapatna have been practicing their art for generations, passing down their skills and techniques from one to another.

The Cultural Significance:

Khandua sarees are not merely pieces of fabric; they carry profound cultural and religious significance. They are considered auspicious and are often worn during religious ceremonies, festivals, and special occasions. The association with Lord Jagannath and the temple adds to their sacred aura, making them an integral part of Odisha’s cultural identity. The weavers of Nuapatna are regarded with deep respect and are considered custodians of tradition.

The popularity of Khandua sarees has spread far beyond the borders of Odisha. Their vibrant colors, intricate designs, and unique weaving techniques have gained recognition in the fashion industry. Today, Khandua sarees are coveted by saree enthusiasts and fashion connoisseurs around the world.

In recent years, efforts have been made to promote and preserve the art of Khandua saree weaving. Various government initiatives and organizations have provided support to the weavers, helping them enhance their skills, access markets, and preserve their cultural heritage. Additionally, collaborations with designers and fashion houses have brought Khandua sarees into the mainstream, ensuring their longevity in the ever-changing world of fashion.


Khandua sarees are not just garments; they are living artifacts that embody the rich heritage and craftsmanship of Odisha. From the intricate motifs to the laborious tie-and-dye process, these sarees showcase the skill and dedication of the weavers. Nuapatna, the birthplace of Khandua sarees, stands as a testament to the legacy of this art form. By preserving and cherishing Khandua sarees, we honor the cultural tapestry of Odisha and keep the traditions alive for generations to come.

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