The costumes of West Bengal
depict the richness in tradition and culture of the region and its people. While Dhoti
and Punjabi forms the classical men`s wear, Sarees, locally known as Sarees, are adorned by women. The styles and designs of the costumes are personification of the excellent craftsmanship of West Bengal weavers. The state has an exquisite tradition for weaving which has national as well as international appeal. Nowadays, most of the young generation and professionals, particularly in the urban areas, adorn western outfits like shirt, trouser, jeans, t-shirt, tops, skirts etc. but during the festive season and other ceremonies, almost all the people tend to wear traditional costumes of West Bengal.
The costumes of West Bengal can be broadly categorized into 2 groups, namely Costumes for Men and Costumes for Women.
Costumes of West Bengal for Men
Dhotis are lengthy pieces of fabric spun in cotton or silk worn by the Hindus. Dhoti along with Punjabi, form the traditional dress for all Bengali men. Previously, Dhotis were prevalent only in white however presently; coloured Dhotis are also in vogue. The Dhoti is tied at the waist and wrapped around like a loin cloth passing in between the legs. It is suitably matched by a Punjabi, worn atop, also made of silk or cotton.
The Punjabis are loosely fitted garments, reaching close to the knees and are available in a wide variety of colours. It is same as Kurtas worn by people of North India. The Punjabi is usually made of silk or cotton. Over the years, the traditional Dhoti and Punjabi have lost much of their appeal and the Pyajamas are in vogue. While western attire has overtaken the Dhoti`s popularity as regular wear, the combination of Dhoti and Punjabi is an irreplaceable ingredient during traditional festivals and occasions like the Durga Puja
and wedding ceremonies.
is another variation of the dhotis worn by men in West Bengal. It is also wound around the waist and is often plaid. It is usually worn on a daily basis, and it is popular because of its double knot and is less likely to come undone or slip. It is quite comfortable because the length can be easily adjusted. Though lungi is a popular dress among Bengali men, but it is not worn on formal gatherings. Lungi, worn by most Bengali men, is meticulously designed in cotton, silk or batik, and comes with variety of colours and designs.
Costumes of West Bengal for Women
The graceful icon of elegance that symbolises the quintessential Bengali woman is the Saree, which they prefer to drape in typical Bengali fashion. In West Bengal, Sarees are primarily woven in cotton and silk which have been named chiefly after their weaving techniques. The traditional weavers or Tantis of West Bengal are reputed worldwide because of the quality of fabric spun and their elaborate thread work. In the various districts of West Bengal like Murshidabad
, different varieties of Sarees are woven with supreme efficiency and dedication. The exquisite beauty of a Saree is further enhanced when it is accessorised suitably with a blouse. At present, blouses are available in multitudes of fashionable patterns which when teamed with a Saree does wonders to the attire.
is nowadays in the same way popular among the Bengali women as the sarees. Salwars are loosely fitted trousers worn with a Kameez or long tunic. During wedding ceremonies however, the Bengali women usually resort to the traditional Banarasi Sarees
in shades of red coupled with a golden veil to cover their heads.
Handlooms and Jewelleries of West Bengal
Apart from these traditional handlooms, costumes of West Bengal include delicate and fine thread work known as Kantha. The Kantha embroidery is a supreme work of art and requires utmost concentration and meticulousness. The costumes of West Bengal are suitably accessorised by delicately designed jewellery which is indigenous to its rich culture. Silver and gold
along with alloys of zinc and precious stones are mostly used for jewellery production. In weddings, mostly, women adorn their foreheads with a thin string of small gold chain often strewn with pearls and precious stones known as the Tikli.
Kaan is a conventional jewellery worn on ear and is made of very thin sheers of silver and gold. It has precious stones embedded on it and is usually worn in formal occasions. Chik is an exquisite piece of jewellery studded with precious stones and is worn round the neck by a woman. It has 6 to 7 strands of beads or costly gems known as Sapta Lahiri. Tabiz, Baju or Tagaa are conventional ornaments, crafted delicately with silver and gold and is worn around the wrists and arms.
With passage of time, a shift towards western trends has been noticed. Yet, such cross-cultural influences have, by no means, demeaned the value of the traditional costumes of West Bengal.