(Last Updated on : 09/01/2014)
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 to state due the great geographical diversity of the country. The costumes in India are also worn depending on the natural fibres that are popularly grown in that particular area. 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. Every region in India is distinct in its language, lifestyle and food and this diversity is reflected in its traditional dressing as well. For example, a half saree worn to college in the southern states is completely different from the dressing norms followed in northern India.
Traditional Indian Costumes
Traditional clothes are still worn during traditional ceremonies or in the interior pockets of the country. In the cold northern state of Jammu & Kashmir
, people wear a thick loose shirt called a 'phiran' to keep them 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
which are rather dry, the men wear a dhoti around their lower limbs and a kurta. The Rajasthani men are also known for the colourful turbans that they wear. Their heads are covered by a cloth made of fine cotton known as the Odhna
or the dupatta. 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. 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 Kurta Pajamas. Lungis and dhotis are also worn by Indian men.
Western Costumes in India
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-culturalism has also led to the popularity of traditional costumes in the country. A majority of the Indian population 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.
Tribal Indian Costumes
The Indian tribes use a particular dressing pattern 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 coloured 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 colour or apply a readymade Bindi, on their foreheads.
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.