Silk weaving is a dominant industry in Varanasi with nearly half a million of the working population in this field, as weavers, dyers, sari finishers, and salespersons. Weaving is typically done within the household. Varanasi is known throughout India for its production of very fine silk and Banarasi saris, brocades with gold and silver thread work, which are often used for weddings and special occasions.
In an awesome display of grandeur, the Banarasi saree has always been exclusive and captivating. Notwithstanding a flurry of traditional silks in different pockets across the country, the Banarasi Saree has always held out on its own as a unique fabric of traditional excellence.
Finely woven and with rich brocades in gold or silver zari that includes fine designs and engravings, the relatively heavy and opulent affair is part of every bride’s trousseau and a must-have finery fabric for weddings and exclusive occasions in many Indian homes.
A royal weave since Mughal times, it is believed that migrant workers from other states settled in Banaras and carried out the weaving of such fabrics as a decent means to livelihood. Since then it has developed into a major cottage industry that has close to twelve lakh workers involved in different facets in the making of the ‘Banarasi’ saree.