Every woman in the family-from the bride to the great grandmother-wears a ceremonial garment called Pichhaura on auspicious occasions, be it namkarana (naming ceremony), marriage, or upanayan (a ritual done during the wedding). It has a special meaning and is mandatory to be worn by all married women in the family for special occasions as well as during the preparations for making the Aipan folk paintig.
Conventionally the pichhaura has traditional motifs hand printed with red colour over a yellow background. This can most notably be found in Almora, a district in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Traditionally only a ceremonial shawl is made by women artisans on chikan karahi cloth at home. However with the changing trends one may now find men also making the shawls and other items for the purpose of selling them in shops.
Two fifty meters long white fabric with chikan karahi is purchased from Delhi for making the shawls. Earlier the dye too was purchased from Delhi however now it is available in local markets. The shawl is characterized by the use of the red and yellow colours as they together symbolize long marital life, health and prosperity.
The cloth is dipped in a solution of water, yellow colour dye and any locally available adhesive. It is then soaked in the solution for five minutes. Using a red colour solution designs are made while the cloth is still wet. These designs are made with the help of a 50 paisa coin or a gram seed tied in a piece of cloth, which is dipped in the red colour solution. Line patterns are made using 50 paisa coins while the dot patterns are made using gram seeds.
The design made in the middle of the cloth is referred to as ‘Surya Chandra Codi’. The design consists of Surya (Sun God), Chandra (Moon), Ghanti (bell), and shankh (shell) which is considered auspicious. The remaining area of the cloth is covered with a dotted design. After the design is made, the cloth is dried in the sun. Once it has dried, golden or silver colour lace locally known as ‘kiran’ is stitched on the edges.