Bandhani or tie-dye is a traditional process in which the cloth is tied into many tiny bindings to form a figurative design. The term bandhani is derived from the Sanskrit word banda ("to tie"). The earliest evidence of Bandhani can be found in the remnants of Indus Valley Civilization where dying was done as early as 4000 B.C. The earliest example of the most pervasive type of Bandhani dots can be seen in the 6th-century paintings depicting the life of Buddha found on the wall of Cave 1 at Ajanta. Bandhani is also known as Bandhej, Bandhni, Piliya, and Chungidi in Tamil as per the regional dialect.
Leheria or leheriya derives from the word lahar, meaning wave is another unique form of tie-dye technique used in Rajasthan. Other tying techniques include Mothra, Ekdali, and Shikari, they are differentiated depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied. The final products are known by various names like Khombi, Ghar Chola, Patori and also Chandrokhani etc.
The art of Bandhani is a highly skilled process. The technique involves dyeing a fabric which is tied tightly with a thread at several points, thus producing a variety of patterns like Chandrakala, Bevan Baug, Shikari etcetera; depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied. The main colours used in Bandhani are yellow, red, blue, green and black.The main colours used in Bandhani are natural.
As Bandhani is a tie and dye process, dying is done by hand. Nowadays Bandhani is used in a variety of ways. From suits to Kurtis to sarees to lehenga choli to dupatta it has become quite popular among women. Since the entire work is done by hand these fabrics are expensive. These days cheap imitations are available in the form of printed Bandhani. As a customer, it is very difficult to differentiate between the two.
In Gujarat and Rajasthan, a new bride gets a Bandhani Saree either from her mother or mother in law and it is considered auspicious to wear it on important occasions.