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Madisar – 9 yards sari worn by TamBrahms

Madisar or the Kosovam is the traditional nine yards garment/Sari of unstitched cloth worn by the Brahmins of Tamil Nadu.  Since it is unstitched, it is considered sacred for wear during Poojas, ceremonies, Vrathas and festivals.  You must have seen Bollywood actresses like Sridevi sporting them in movies.

The length of the regular sari is only 6 yards.  Nine yards is a long one that comprises many tucks and pleats that is tied like a dhoti with Pallu.


These Saris come in silk, synthetic and cotton varieties.  Classic colors such as red, blue green and yellow are all-time favorites.  Nowadays Nine-yard saris are available in art silk and crepe materials as well.

marriage saree photoPhoto by Idol

The silk version is worn by the bride on her marriage day.  It is also called Kora Podavai, and is worn during the tying of the Mangalsutra.  This sari is again worn during festivals like Pongal, Karthika Pandigai and any Vrathas and ceremonies like Baby showers, Seemandam. This sari is worn with Gold jewelry as an accessory.

The cotton and synthetic varieties are for daily use and for functions like death ceremonies.

Draping style of Madisar

There are various styles of tying Madisar.  This dhoti style draping involves passing a fold between legs and tucking behind the back.   Then the sari is draped around the body in wraps and a few tucks and pulled over the shoulder.  The other end of the sari should finally be tucked into the waist belt. Final tuck is mandatory as elders of the family feel that the pallu should not be left hanging loose, else the family fortunes will oscillate like the sari pallu.

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The final result is elegance coupled with functionality.  Since the sari is like a trouser, it is comfortable to do even household chores.

There are two communities of Tamil Brahmins.  One the Iyers or the Smartha brahmins and the second the Iyengars, the followers of Lord Vishnu.  The Iyer women drape the Madisar pallu on the right shoulder. The vishnavite women drape Madisar like the regular 6-yard sari on the left shoulder.

Madisar saris are available in all the major shops in big cities like Chennai, Mysore, Trichy and Thanjavur.  Nowadays there are even readymade nine-yard saris.  The tucking and pleats are already stitched. You just have to tie the Nada and drape the other end over the shoulder. Viola! the long work-out of twisting and turning and pleating and tucking is finished in two minutes flat.

Nine-yard saris are worn even in other states

The NNine-yard sari is also worn Dhoti-style in various Southern states of India.  The drape is called Kacha Nivi in Andhra, and Kaccha in Karnataka and Andhra.  They also called Nuvari and Lugde saris.  People from Croog wear the nine yarded sari but with a different drape.

tamil woman photoPhoto by mckaysavage

Madisar Significance

Some feel this dress reinforces the Ardhanareeshwar concept; half dhoti, half upper protection garment represent Shiva and Parvathi (half man and half woman) respectively.  Others mention it conforms to the needs of protection and modesty as it is a complete garment. The earlier generations found the garment so very comfortable and that warrior queens like Lakshmi Bai wore it even during battles.

Present Scenario

Two generations back, all Brahmin ladies wore only Madisar after marriage.  Due to urbanization and women taking up jobs, the sari went out of favor with our immediate ancestors.  One factor was the time to tie the sari and next was maintenance.

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But this sari has always been preferred for use during ceremonies.  Family elders have insisted on this and the reason for this is given here.  The tucks and pleats of Madisar have knots that press the hip nerve and backbone.  Thus you will not have a feeling of going to the toilet midway during a ceremony.  Another factor claimed is that Madisar knots can even keep hunger and thirst away for few hours.

Scientifically proven or not, this has been affirmed by many ladies.  As most ceremonies should be completed unhindered this sari is still the preferred garment for married women on such occasions.  Anyway, every Brahmin woman of the present generation has at least one nine-yard sari.  And yes, it also a known fact that it reflects a flattering image of yourself if worn properly.  And this has been vouched by 95% women who wear it.  Some excuse, then to continue wearing this sari.  Let us hope, for old times sake women continue to wear this sari, if not all the time, but at least on few occasions.

Featured Photo by YLegrand

Madisar – 9 Yards Sari Worn By Tamil Brahmins

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