Saturday, January 22, 2011

Indian Costumes

Indian Costumes are as varied and diverse as the culture of the country. The many beautiful, bright and unique attires of the country vary even from state due the great geographical diversity of the country. The costumes in India largely depend on the climate, local inhabitants and the religion that is followed by the people of the region. Apart from these, the costumes in India are also worn depending on the natural fibers that are popularly grown in that particular area. For these reasons, the costumes of tropical regions, dry regions, coastal areas and the extremely cold regions differ from one another. Despite the current prevalence of western style of dressing, when festivities and other occasions are in vogue Indian traditional costumes are the preferred forms of attire.

An outstanding feature of Indian costume is the bright hues and fine textures of the clothes. A rather attire is as diverse as its subcultures. Every region is distinct in its language, lifestyle and food and this diversity is reflected in its traditional dressing as well. For example, a half sari worn to college in the southern states is completely different from the dressing norms followed in northern India. Intermingling due to social changes and improvement in communication has managed to give India a pan-Indian look. However, people from all subcultures are slowly adapting to a more homogeneous way of dressing.

Traditional Costumes
Traditional cloths are still worn during traditional ceremonies or in the interior pockets of the country. Traditional costumes in India primarily depend on the climate and natural fibers grown in a region. For instance, in the cold northern state of Jammu & Kashmir, people wear a thick loose shirt called a phiran to keep the warm; whereas in the tropical warmth of south India, men wear a sarong like garment called the mundu, while women drape 5 meters of cloth around their bodies in the graceful folds of the saree, the national dress of Indian women.

In the state of Rajasthan and Gujarat which are rather dry, the men wear a dhoti around their lower limbs and a kurta, which is a shirt-like garment on the upper part of the body. The Rajasthani men are also known for the colorful turbans that they wear. Thier heads are covered by a cloth made of fine cotton known as the Odhna or the duptta. The state of Punjab is famous for the renowned Phulkari work which is seen woven on the shawls, worn over a blouse known as the choli and a long skirt called the ghaghra. In urban India, women, commonly wear the salwar kameez or the churidar and the saree is worn on formal occasions. Men wear kurtas and pajamas, or a sherwani for formal wear. Men these days usually wear a trouser along with a shirt.

The most common costume worn by Indian women, in fact the national dress of Indian women, is the saree. It is a six yard cloth which is draped in different styles in different regions. This is shaped by the lifestyle and the religious inclination. The urban Indian style is by far the most common. Stiff tangails, flowing silks, elegant chiffons and heavy brocades, all of them can be easily maneuvered into this style. The ladies generally use the pallav (edge) of the saree to cover their heads. For the men, the common traditional outfits are the Kurtas Pajamas. Lungis and Dhotis are also worn by Indian men. Usually the lungi is worn in many parts of India like south India, but depending on the social practics of the region it may be restricted to indoor wear. A sherwani is generally worn for special occasions. The men also use turbans and caps of various types. The Muslim use a different cap from those in the northeast and the sikh turban forms an essential part of his identity and is very different from the ones worn by others on festive occasions.

Western Costumes

It is a point to note that while the traditional Indian costumes are still largely worn by a vast majority of people in the country, the spread of globalization and cross-cultural has also led to the popularity of traditional costumes in the country. A majority of the Indian popularity today follow the western mores when it comes to dressing. thus the men can be seen dressed in pants, t-shirts, shirts and jeans, the women may be variously outfitted in jeans, tops, shirts, skirts and dresses. However, this style of dressing is mostely traditional style of dressing. Also during weddings, festivals and other occasions and celebrations, traditional costumes are the way to go all over the country.

Tribal Costumes

The Indian tribes use a particular dressing according to their native style. The women of Santhal tribe usually drape a white saree with red borders. The Meghval women wear puthia, while the Kumhar women dress much like the women of Gujjar tribe and wear a black and red-checkered saadi of thick woven fabric draped around the waist. The jogi women wear a chola as the upper garment, which is usually made of red printed fabric, the lower garment is a skirt made of katari chhint. Among the tribal communities of the north-east, such as the Mizos, the Manipuris, the Khasi tribe, the Naga tribe and the Arunachilis, the people are seen wearing beautifully colored woven clothing much like a sarong, and woven shawls which represent the identity of each tribal group, Similarly, there are many more Indian tribes who dress according to their deep rooted tradition.


Accessorising a particular garment is a rather integral part of Indian dressing. costume accessories and costume jewellery are items that are widely used in India to complement fashion. Thus in India most women can be seen adorned in earrings, nose ornaments, rings, anklets and brightly colored bangles. Some paint a dot of color or apply a ready made Bindi, on their foreheads. The bindi is also a fashion statement and may be matching to the color of the dress.

Thus the great diversity of the country is seen reflected in the dressing style of the different people. the variety of Indian costumes is immense, and the style of dressing and costume of a person goes a long way in indicating his ethnicity, region, religion and sub-culture in India.


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