Pavada Davani

The Pavada Davani is a traditional dress worn in the villages of the south Indian states. In some communities of South India gifting of the pavada davani by the maternal grandparents is a tradition. It begins as early as the girl’s first naming ceremony along with her first rice feeding ceremony. The girl receives her last pavada davani at the ‘coming of age’ ceremony.

It is mandatory for a girl to wear a pavada davani when she reaches puberty. This garment is gifted and should be worn during the first part of the ‘coming of age ceremony’. The pavada davani is, traditionally, exclusively worn by young women who are in their teens as it marks the transition of a girl to womanhood.

Black Art Silk Readymade Pavada Davani (Half Saree)

Black Art Silk Readymade Pavada Davani (Half Saree)

The Making

Pavada davani can be either hand woven or machine made. The procedure of manufacture may vary in accordance with the combination of fabrics or the different kinds of embellishments used in it. Usually this garment is woven in either cotton or silk and is very simple. However, considering the significance of the coming of age ceremony, the maternal grandparents ensure that the pavada davani that is gifted to the girl is in the richest possible material, as their economic status allow. The affluent families, therefore, opt for silk, within which kanjeevaram is very popular.

The Davani is a piece of cloth which is about 2.5 m long and is an item that is separate from the Pavada and the blouse within this costume.

Similarities with other Garments found in India

The Pavada Davani is similar in its elements to the ghaghra choli combined with the dupatta, which is popularly worn by the communities in the northern parts of India. Both garments have similar elements such as the skirt which is called the Pavada in the South and Ghaghra in the North. Both costumes have a blouse that is separate from the skirt. The dupatta of the North is known as the Davani in the South. The difference between the two costumes lies in the direction of the drape of the dupatta or Davani.

Style & Variety

The pavada davani also known as the half saree has undergone a lot of changes over the years. Earlier it used to be plain and simple made out of pure silk and cotton. It was confined to just the villages in south India but now there are different styles and patterns which have been modified with the change in time. There are different varieties of the pavada davani adorned with beautiful patterns of geometric, floral, traditional paisley to name a few along with zari and resham thread work all over the pavada. They are sold mostly in the form of ceremonial or festive wear and is one of the most sought after garment worn during festivals like Pongal or Onam.

Global Appeal

The media and needless to say Bollywood actresses have been seen flaunting the Pavada Davani, with a few changes, in various movies.  Besides media presentation, the pavada davani has been gaining favor amongst modern women as they are much easier and convenient to wear than the traditional full saree.

Image: metromela

Image: metromela


The pavada davani has influenced the highly fashionable half sarees for women of India. Now it has been incorporated with different pleats along with combinations of vibrant colors. Modern day pavada davani or half saree as it is popularly known has moved from simpler patterns to gorgeous embroideries like zari and mirror work. They are no longer made from just cotton and silk. Many high profile designers as well as boutique houses now use lighter fabrics like georgette, nylon, net etc. Designers have popularized this ethnic garment into a trend by keeping the elements of the garment traditional with changes in embroidery, motifs and fabrics.

How to wear this attire

The pavada davani is traditionally worn with simple gold jewelry. The color of this garment and the color of the blouse generally determine the kind of jewelry that can be worn with it. It can be worn on almost every occasion with a smart choice of contrasting color, different fabrics and embroidery. But now since it has gone through a lot change in terms of heavier design and fuller embellishments, the jewelry can be kept minimal with a simple mang tikka and a set of bangles.

For weddings heavily embroidered pavada davani in rich colors and tassels can be worn with long dangler earrings. One can also add adornments to the waist by wearing a thin kamarbandh.

Interesting facts & comparisons

  • It was worn by renowned Indian actress Deepika Padukone in the movie Chennai Express.
  • The pavada davani was the official garment for girls of ages 13 to 17 in Madras during the early 17th
  • They are very similar to the north Indian garments ghagra choli and lehenga choli.

Reference links

Categories:   Attires, Clothing Styles & Drapes