(Last Updated on : 02/09/2014)
It is a well-known fact that people in different countries wear different costumes. By a mere glance given at the costume worn by a lady in Europe one can say the nationality to which she belongs. In the same way the ladies in southern India dress in different ways in different communities. The Smarta ladies, the Vaishnava ladies and the ladies of the Telugu speaking community each have a distinguishing mode of wearing their costumes. By looking at them the name of the community can easily be said even from a distance. The Andhras from the Telugu districts have their own peculiar mode of dressing. Whereas Gujarat, Bombay and other places have their own special distinguishing mode of dressing to distinguish them from the people of the other communities.
Undoubtedly it is true that climatic conditions of countries have contributed very largely to the varying modes of dressing by men and women at that place. But it can always be seen that whether any other reason or reasons can be assigned for the different modes of dressing in different countries and in different communities.
It is probable that when different organizers of communities and sects desired to hit upon a plan by which any one belonging to his community or sect could be singled out from among the rest. At that point of time it struck him that a change in the mode of the dress might effectively serve his purpose. So he invented certain innovations that tried to make them different. The changes were simple in the beginning. But as time passed by the changes grew into distinct communal or sectional costumes.
The orthodox Hindus and especially the Brahmins of southern India attach a sort of religious importance to the mode of dress. This importance is emphasized during the observance of religious and other ceremonies. At the time of performing the marriage ceremony, a bridegroom should wear his costumes in panchakachcham meaning five folds of the lower garment tucked into the waist band or kachchai. The number five is considered to be a very sacred number as expressed from the study of the derivation of the expressions pancka-gavyam, pancha-bhutam, panchangam, pancha-agni and so on. In this connection the word pancha-kosa appears to be worthy of notice.
Every tyro in science knows about the action of points. The Hindu sages of old were thoroughly conversant with the play of forces like electricity and magnetism. Thus in order to make the people of those days not to lose much of it or in other words to minimize its loss. The concentration was especially on the orthodox Brahmins, who were accumulating animal magnetism in their bodies in every moment. Hence they had laid it down as a religious obligation to wear the costume in a particular manner so that the points or folds tucked in, may, by the action of points, discharge the magnetic and other forces in a manner highly advantageous for the individual concerned.
The same argument applies equally to the garments worn by the orthodox Indian ladies. At any rate, edges or corners of garments that are hanging out and exposed to air, they thus becoming capable of discharging out the accumulated force is condemned by the Indian saints and sages. In fact, the sages and yogis of old had held that there was a greater loss of human magnetic force when wearing garments than when not wearing them. They hold that through the tips of fingers and toes enough force is wasted to benefit the unseen matter as intended by nature and those that care to minimize the loss to their high advantage may dress themselves as laid down in the karma sastras.
An orthodox Hindu would not send the cloth he has once worn for a time to the laundry and in fact he holds that he should himself wash his clothes daily and wear them. It is also said to be laid down in the sastras that the clothes worn by an individual should not be worn by others and the beds and vessels like drinking cups, etc., of one should not be made use of by others. The apparent reason for this injunction may be to avoid the possibility of communication of infectious diseases. The man wearing a garment may be suffering from an infectious disease, say, like syphilis and if others use it they may catch the loathsome disease. Similarly a bed or a drinking cup may transmit to others the microbes carrying infection with them. But religion goes further and says that the garments, beds and drinking cups used by one if used by others are productive of other kinds of harm in addition to those noticed above. Germs affecting the morals of individuals are likely to be inoculated in the system by wearing the garments, etc., of others. A man strengthening his magnetism by religious observances need not necessarily be morally pure and hence his clothes, etc., saturated with his magnetism may also be steeped in his germs of moral vices. Thus it became capable of affecting the others wearing them most injuriously.
At any rate, the Hindu sages had held that the use of clothes was not only to serve the purpose of hiding the nakedness of mankind, but also to serve other religious and scientific purposes. Instead of brushing aside as superstitious belief this opinion of the ancient sages, one would do well to make experiments that might suggest themselves to him and satisfy himself as to the truth contained in the statements.