Sambalpuri Bandha Saree

By: Shibashish Mahapatra 

Sonepur also known as Subarnapur is a town and district headquarter of Subarnapur district of Odisha. It is rich in cultural heritage, arts and crafts. This small town is also called as the Temple City of Odisha. In the Sambalpuri textiles it holds a pivotal role as the Sambalpuri Bandha Saree originates from here.

Clothing is a collective term for items worn on the body. Clothing is done from silk, animal skin, cotton fibre etc. The wearing of cloths is mainly restricted to human but now a days it is being used for pets also.

Sambalpuri Bandha Saree is a traditional handwoven saree where tie-dyed process is done before weaving. This is mainly produced in Sonepur, Bargarh, Sambalpur, Balangir, Boudh, Kalahandi and Nuapada districts of the western part of Odisha. The Sambalpuri Bandha Saree is a women wear ranging from four to nine meters in length that is worn in various ways and styles. The Sambalpuri Bandha Saree is exclusively seen in Sonepur district whereas the other districts do not use the bandha technology.

Mr. Niranjan Meher, aged 75 years, is the father of Sambalpuri Bandha Saree. He started weaving from the age of 12. He is from the Kendupali village of Birmaharajpur block of Sonepur district. When Padmashree Chaturbhuja Meher started the production of Sambalpuri Bandha Saree from Sonepur he needed the help of Mr. Niranjan Meher for the Bandha Technology.

During the old time before 30 years it was very difficult to draw the diagrams as the graph paper was not available.Mr. Niranjan Meher was doing that successfully with the help of Scale and plain white paper.Mr. Meher was the single person to invent this technology.


Kendupali is the village of weavers. The technicians from this village have done the gold work from golden suta in the sarees. These sarees contains gold upto 5 gms. As the bandha work was appreciated he started giving training to the youth of the villages. The villagers came across and now the village has turned into a weaver’s village. Most of the families are in the process of making sarees.

“The bandha design is really complex and tiring thing. It starts from cleaning the thread and followed by coloring,dying and many more process. Before few years the raw materials were imported from Bangalore but now it is available locally and nearby areas” said his elder son.

The threads need to be properly cleaned and colored. Sometimes the same thread get 4 to 5 times colored. Silk thread washing, then processing, coloring, cycling, separating the threads and then weaving is something really laborious and requires a lot of patience. If someone is doing it alone it takes 3-4 months to make a saree. As the whole family is working for a single saree it takes 15-20 days to complete.

                      (A lady weaver weaving the Sambalpuri Bandha Saree)

Mr. Niranjan Meher, the father of Sambalpuri Bandha Saree, is not well these days. He had a brain hemorrhage and it made him bedridden.His wife is the inspiration behind his success. His family having 6 members including 2 sons and their wives. Since the last 50 years he has dedicated his life towards the improvement of Sambalpuri Bandha Saree.

Showing few colored threads. These single threads are the important thing in the bandha art.
                         (The first thing a thread meets in this whole process.)

Mr. Meher has received an award from the state government. Mr. Naveen Patnaik has rewarded him for his contribution towards the Sambalpuri Bandh Sadhi. Apart from this he has not been acknowledged or rewarded.

The weavers are getting very less profit as compared to the amount of hard work they are devoting in it. This has enforced many families to stop showcasing their art and the work they love. They have now opted for other sources of earning.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate our weavers for making the Sambalpuri Bandha Saree world famous. Let’s create a revolution for the Sambalpuri Textiles. This will help both the weavers to earn a good amount of remuneration for their services and also to preserve our art and craft from perishing.

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