(Last Updated on : 22/01/2010)
Parsi Costumes of the modern India differs from that which was worn by their ancestors in Persia and by their present co-religionists in that country. They have adopted the present costume with regard to their agreement with the Hindu princes who received them in India, and to this is attributable the great resemblance of the 'angrakha' or coat and turban of the men, and the 'saree' of the women, to the dress of the Hindus living in the Indian state of Gujarat. This costume is, moreover, well adapted to the climate of the country. The dresses of the child, till it attains the age of seven, are simple and not less becoming. It comprises of a single garment; a loose shirt of cotton, flannel, or silk called 'jabhla' starting from the neck and falling to the knees.
For the rich and affluent classes among the Parsis, the habit of wearing light trousers has also been introduced. The dress of both girl and boy, till the age of six or seven is the same, the girl being distinguished with the presence of her long hair and the ornaments on her person. There is a fascination of wearing ornaments among the female group of Parsi community. The ears of the girls are bored at a very young age and rings of thin gold wire are worn in them. In occasions and festivals they take special care for decking themselves up with different ornaments and costumes of vibrant colours.
The Parsi male generally wear a long muslin shirt or sudra and girdle or kusti, loose cotton trousers, waistcoat prepared of white cloth or chintz with sleeves, slippers, and also a China silk skull-cap. While going out, a Parsi male puts on an 'angrakha', or loose coat without any belt, over the muslin shirt or waistcoat. The turban, having a dark chocolate colour, flowered fancifully, constitutes the outdoor covering of the head, and is positioned over the skull-cap. Shoes or boots are worn on the feet.
They also wear socks, silk trousers and English shoes or boots, and are fond of designing their fingers with diamond and gold rings. The full dress of a Parsi consists, in addition to the above, of a 'jama' and 'pichori' of white linen. The 'jama' is a long double-breasted coat made of cotton
, the lower portion hanging in folds to the ankle, and resembling the gown of an English lady. The 'pichori' is a long cloth about a yard wide and some yards in length. It is folded together in bands, and passed round the waist several times till its length permits. This type of dress is worn during funeral and wedding parties, but few wear it on state occasions, like a ball or reception at Government House. A modified structure of the English dress, a coat and trousers, has been accepted by a majority of the Parsis, both on the ground of convenience and appearance. But they have not left the use of turban, even if it is an inconvenient and cumbrous head-dress, not even giving protection against the sun.
The dresses of the Kadmi sect of the Parsis are not very dissimilar to that of the Shehenshais. A few priests of the Kadmi sect wear a peculiar garb of their own in imitation of that used by their late high priest, Mulla Firoz, which in a great measure resembles the dress of a Turk or an Armenian. The Shehenshais priests normally adopt the same costume as laymen, with the one difference; it is only made of white cotton cloth, including the turban.
In appearance the Parsi males do not compare unfavorably with the other Indian natives. Those who have adopted European dress might even be understood as Europeans if they are fair skinned and well constructed. The Parsis have not yet lost the mien and stamina of their ancestors, despite early marriages and marriages within near relations have tended to lessen the original stature of the Parsis. The earlier Indian Parsis were generally of more than medium height and of a brave bearing, but nowadays this is not as common as it was. The Parsi ladies of today are well-known for their good taste in dress. Even if they are proud of adorning their children as much as possible, the most fastidious critic would get immense hardship in finding out anything in their ornaments and dress that was in bad taste.