(Last Updated on : 26/10/2010)
Dhoti, a cloth-piece covering the lower part of the body from the waist, is a kind of traditional drapery, bearing the signature of the heritage of Indian civilisation. This single piece of rectangular stitchless cloth , measuring about 5 yards in length, can give a man an air of elegance, inherent to his culture.
Dhoti is known by different names in various states and languages. Punjabis call it Laacha , Malayalamis , the Mundu , Bengalis, the Dhuti , The Tamilians, refer it as Vaetti, people of Telegu, the Pancha, Marathis, the Dhotar and those of Kannada , pronounce it as Panche.
In the north and the east of India, the natives don themselves in Dhoti, topped off by a upper Kurta, called as Panjabi in the east of India, especially in Bengal.
The pairing , undergoes a change in the south of India.There, a Dhoti,is associated by angavastram, an unstitched piece of cloth passed around the shoulders . This definitely, augments the dignity in the outlook of the wearer. Sometimes, in place of an angavastram, a chokka, a version of shirt or jubba , a local type of kurta .
A dhoti is the coventional male costume for attending official meetings, or ceremonial occcassions, in the entire nation. Even, today`s young generation, flaunt themselves in Dhotis, ornately designed , happen to be their foremost priority , during festivals, social-gatherings and ceremonies.It not only furnishes them with an ethnic look, which is the in-thing now, but oivcreasesthe element of dignity, related to manliness.
This attire of eminence, Dhoti is the costume of most of the national icons too. Ranging from the ministers, politicians, national leaders, to the cultural cultivators , like musicians, poets, and men of letters, represent the nation, being Dhoti clad.
Indeed, dhoti was the insignia of national tradition, a strong pillar of Ghandhi`s championing of indigenous culture , in the face of the oppressive enforcement cast by the British regime in India. The glorification of Dhoti, was a constituent programme of Satyagraha movement, initiated by the venerated Bapu, the Father of India, Gandhi, during the national war of Independence in India.
Gandhi, himself used to be dressed in Dhoti, to personify the teeming millions of the country, starting ftrom the humble farmers to the elite class, as all had Dhoti as their common dress.
Dhoti , in this hi-tech age, is till date, the daily garment for many regions, in India. Forexample, the regal Rajputs, proudly display themselves in Dhoti.
The Bengali manner of Dhoti-draping is quite artistic .Dhoti, with sober but attractive patterns, are arranged in proper pleats, with the front portion of the cloth , being held firmly as japanese fan. Dhoti is the hereditary groom`s costume in Bengali marraiges.
Again, the manner of wearing is differernt in Tamil Nadu. One famous style is the Pancha Katcham, i.e. five knots or five folds.
A Dhoti, normally comes in shades of white, crème or beige.
In South India, and specifically in Tamil Nadu, the material of Dhotis, known as Magatam or Pattu Pancha, is in general , silk, while the fabric could be of tussar, or silk, or comfortable cotton in Bengal. Crimson, Dhotis called Sowlay, is the uniform of the temple-priests in Maharashtra.
It is obvious, without a debate, that Dhoti is an integral part of our cultural context, and daily customs and religion. Dhoti , as an Indian traditional costume, contains, the very impression of Indianness, needful to project our national identity, before the entire world.