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Indian Fashion Blog / Driven Curiosity / Epic Tale Anarkali

The legend of designer anarkali suits
The Epic Tale of Anarkali
09 th May 2014

Indian fashion is full of vibrant and exciting clothing that reveals an extensively rich history and diverse cultural heritage. From the scintillating saree styles, the intricately patterned embroidery to the dazzling gem encrusted accessories. Indian fashion continuously fills us with wonder particularly as a lot of the traditional clothing is wrapped up in thrilling tales from years ago. One such garment that gets its name from an exceptionally intriguing story is the Anarkali.

Designer anarkali suits are worn by Pakistani and Indian women and comprise of a long top kurti for the upper half and a long circular skirt for the lower part of the outfit. These garments are worn with a dupatta and churidar. These days this outfit has become hugely popular and designer anarkali suits are a big feature of Indian fashion houses.

The story that led to today’s designer anarkali suits is fascinating as well as quite controversial.

The tale is set in the Mughal era, during the reign of Akbar. Akbar’s son, Prince Salim had grown up to be a spoilt child so his father had sent him to the army for fourteen years. He had hoped that this experience would provide his son with the necessary discipline to be a great successor.

On the day that Salim returned home, Akbar organised a great celebration and held a Mujra, which was a dance performed by Nadeera, daughter of Noor Khan Argun. She was a very beautiful woman and for this reason she was allowed entry to Akbar’s court and was also given the nickname Anarkali by Akbar himself which literally means pomegranate blossom. There are different theories about the woman known as Anarkali. William Finch, an English trader and tourist in India in 1608, claimed in his journal that Anarkali was one of the wives of Emperor Akbar and mother of Prince Daniyal Shah. Other sources state that Anarkali was a slave and so became the concubine of Akbar.

According to the legend, Prince Salim saw Anarkali for the first time when looking at his reflection in a gold plate. The two lovers then met in the gardens of Lahore and expressed their love for one another. However Akbar soon found out about their affair, he was furious and so sent Salim back to the army and punished Anarkali brutally.

No one is sure about the true ending of this tale. Some believe that Anarkali was taken to the region near Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore and buried alive. Others believe that Akbar helped Anarkali to escape with her mother on the condition that she never came back to the Mughal Empire again.

As you can see, the story of the origin of designer anarkali suits is a heartfelt tale full of love and jealousy. Next time you buy designer anarkali suits you will know that your garment is more then just an item of clothing but founded on a famous tale from years ago.

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