Traditional Dress of India Biography
Women Clothing in India varies widely and is closely related to local culture, religion and climate.
Traditional Indian clothing for women are the saris or the salwar kameez and also Ghaghra Cholis (Lehengas). For men, traditional clothes are the Dhoti, Lungi or Kurta. Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is one of India's fashion capitals. In some village parts of India, traditional clothing mostly will be worn. In southern India the men wear long, white sheets of cloth called dhoti in north Indian languages like Hindi and Bengali and veshti in Tamil. Over the dhoti, men wear shirts, t-shirts, or anything else. Women wear a sari, a long sheet of colourful cloth with patterns. This is draped over a simple or fancy blouse. This is worn by young ladies and woman. Little girls wear a pavada. A pavada is a long skirt worn under a blouse. Both are often daily patterned. Bindi is part of the women's make-up. Indo-western clothing is the fusion of Western and Subcontinental fashion. Churidar, Dupatta, Gamchha, Kurta, Mundum Neriyathum, Sherwani are among other clothes.
India – known for its hand-woven textiles, richly embroidered fabrics, authentic drapes in exclusive designs have been prized by western civilization for centuries. Indian men and women have always loved to dress up in their traditional costumes, attires and accessories during festivals and other occasions which are an integral part of Indian life. Recently, Indian costumes have been successful in attracting the attention of and capturing the global market.
Indian clothing has been influenced by diverse cultural influences since time immemorial. The sari itself, historians say dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization which flourished in 2800-1800 BC, in the north-western part of India. In fact studies show that the men’s dhoti is a prototype of the sari and both the sexes wore the former till the 14th century. The choli or the woman’s blouse is believed to have come into existence with the various European colonial powers that once occupied a major portion of the Indian subcontinent. The British did influence women’s clothing to a great extent. Indian high society ladies started wearing long-sleeved blouses with frills, very similar to the Victorian upper garment, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Historians say that the achkan, a long-sleeved coat worn mainly by Muslim men even today, originated in Central Asia, more specifically, it was the court costume for Persian and Turkish nobles. The achkan can reach down to the knees or even lower, and is buttoned in the front.
The sari is the traditional garment of an Indian woman. It is an unstitched piece of cloth, which varies from five to nine yards in length and can be worn in different styles. A sari is worn over a petticoat and a short-sleeved midriff-baring blouse. The most popular style of wearing a sari is by tucking one end into the petticoat at the waist while a major portion of it is pleated neatly and tucked in the front. The rest of the sari, which is known as the pallu or pallav is taken over the left shoulder. The pallu is the most fascinating and striking feature of a sari, it is often heavily embellished with woven motifs or embroidery.
However, this authentic Indian garment has lost some of its popularity as daily wear in the recent past. The western outfits have made an inroad into the Indian woman’s wardrobe due to a shift towards rapid globalization and emerging corporate culture. Today, women prefer to wear clothes that offer ease of movement in addition to style. Also, with the boom in the retail industry Indians have a wider variety of options to pick and choose from and women are being increasingly seen in designer outfits western style outfits.
The Saris of India
This elegant drape of India comes in varied textures and styles. For most formal occasions one finds women both the middle-class and the elite looking their best – in a graceful sari! The materials may vary from crisp cottons, rich silks to synthetics and chiffons, but the final overall look is simply elegant and matchless. Did you know that every region of India has a distinct sari of its own, very much influenced by their particular social milieu and culture?
Some well-known regional styles of wearing a sari:
Bengali: In the traditional Bengali style, the sari is draped around the body without pleats and the pallu is left loose by hanging over the left shoulder often with a bunch of keys attached to it. The earlier generations of Bengali women preferred the style because of its sheer simplicity and utmost comfort.
Gujarati: The Gujarati woman sports a distinctive style, as she wears a sari with a neatly pleated pallu brought in front over the right shoulder with one end tucked around the waist to the left.
Maharashtrian: A nine-yard sari called the nawwadi is the traditional style very similar to the men’s dhoti. The pleats of the sari are placed between the legs and tucked in the centre back. Fisherwomen in the coastal regions of Maharashtra still wear a nawwadi and well, it is worn without a petticoat!
Madrasi: This style is very similar to the Maharashtrian nawwadi or the nine-yard sari. The pallu is quite long and wrapped around the waist and tucked in.