Western fashion has greatly influenced the clothing of India due to globalization, formalism, and ease of wear in a highly busy lifestyle. The people, however, have not discarded their traditions and culture. These come to the forefront especially during occasions, gatherings, ceremonies, and religious festivities. The traditional dresses of Indian states will always be adorned to celebrate cultural diversity.
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Each state of India has its heritage that is a source of its costumes and clothing. Today, we explore all the states of India and their rich style of traditional wear.
The women of Andhra Pradesh dress in handloom sarees. Most of these are made of silk, with a rich texture due to their intricate weaving. The younger women wear the two-piece conventional sarees called the Langa Voni. Andhra’s Kalamkari sarees have mythological motifs, and figures from epics etched on them. The men use the shirt called kurta as the upper garment, teamed with dhoti, lungi, or pajama.
A full-sleeved coat over a loose chemise is the conventional wear for women. The accessories of bamboo and silver earrings are very common. The men wear silk shirts and pin the edges around the shoulder area. Their customary green lungis have colored stripes of blue, yellow, or white. The Sherdukpen men’s wear is famous for the skull-caps called Gurdam, which are made from Yak hair.
The ‘Mekhela-Chador’ or ‘Riha-Mekhela’ is wonderful traditional clothing for Assamese women. Especially during occasions like weddings or festivities, women take pride to adorn themselves in this attire. This handloom product is woven from durable Muga silk. The men were dhoti and kurta or kameez, often draping the long cloth ‘chador’ from the Seleng region.
The traditional dress of men from Bihar is the dhoti-mirjai and kurta while women prefer sarees or Salwar-Kameez. The saree is worn in the conventional ‘Seedha Aanchal’ style and is often made of Tussar silk.
The local Kuchhora fashion of wearing knee-length sarees is preferred by the women of Chhattisgarh. It is known as Lugda and worn with a pullover called Polkha. Other than dhotis and headgears like cotton turbans, the men wear garments called Halbas and Murias. The fabrics that are used the most are linen, silk, and cotton, and are usually painted with molten wax.
The conventional attire for women in Goa is the Nav-Vari saree which comes nine-yard long. The expensive Pano Bhaju saree is studded with precious stones and gems. Men wear basic shirts and trousers, often teaming them up with caps.
The traditional Kedia dress is worn by both men and women in Gujarat during festive occasions and celebrations. Women also wear vibrant Chaniya Choli. This gorgeous dress is worn with a long skirt called ‘Ghagra’ as the lower garment and is embedded with little pieces of glass. In general, men wear dhoti and kurta.
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The colorful dresses of women from Haryana include ‘Damaan’, ‘Kurti’ and ‘Chunder’. The Damaan is an ankle-long skirt while the Kurti is a shirt-like blouse. The long and laced Chunder is used to cover the head and drape around the shoulders. The dhoti is the traditional wear for men. They also crown their attire with the headgear Pagri, mainly in the villages.
The men from Himachal Pradesh prefer kurtas and the lower garment called Churidaar. The women, on the other hand, deck themselves in ethnic Kurti, Salwar-Kameez, a long skirt called Ghagri, and the fringed headscarves called Rahide. Due to the climate, woolen clothing is indispensable for the people. The famous Pashmina shawls are unique to the region.
The Pathan and Panchi costumes of the tribes of Jharkhand are extremely popular. Sarees made from Tussar silk and Anjana silks are worn traditionally by women. The men were a single piece of cloth called the Bhagwan. The costumes called Santhal and Pahari of the Santhal Pagara tribes are believed to bring good luck to the wearer. In general, men wear dhoti and kurta.
Karnataka has a variety of costumes because of the diverse communities that reside in the state. The Ilkal sarees of Karnataka are popular throughout the country due to their unique method of weaving which makes use of the Tope Teni process of looping. Kanjeevaram silks are also popular. The men prefer to wear kurta and the lower-garment called lungi or panche.
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Kerala’s most conventional traditional wear is called the mundu. It resembles a long skirt and is worn by both men and women. Women wear the Mundum Neriyathum, traditionally a two-piece costume in the style of a saree. Men wear a shirt or kurta as the upper garment and the Veshti, a type of sarong.
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Women of Madhya Pradesh wear Lehenga, a heavy, ornamented long skirt, and the blouse called Choli. They also drape a long, light cloth, called the Orni or Lugra, over the head and around the shoulders. The men don the Bandi jacket on top of kurta and dhoti.
The women commonly wear the traditional nine-yard long saree called the ‘Nauvari’, along with a ‘choli’ blouse. Nauvari has a unique pattern of draping which is a recognized costume of Maharashtra. The men wear a cotton kurta paired with the dhoti. Their cotton caps are called ‘pheta’ or ‘pagadi’. A sleeveless jacket called ‘bandi’ is often worn.
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The women of Manipur drape the Innaphi in the style of a shawl. Their hand-woven Phanek skirt is designed with horizontal lines. The women from the Meitai community stitch a cloth full of intricate designs called Kanap Phanek. Two other important cultural costumes of Manipur include ‘Lai-Phi’ and ‘Chin-Phi’. Men wear a simple white turban or ‘pagri’ on the head, and kurta and dhoti.
The dressing culture of the tribes of Meghalaya, mainly Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo, are unique in each of their fashion. The Jympien skirt of the women is made from cotton or endi. An apron or Kyrshah is suspended from the left shoulder and then extends down to the legs. The Jainem, mainly worn outdoors, is a modification of the typical Indian saree. Beaded jewelry is used to adorn along with this saree which is made from cotton or silk. The Tap Moh headgear is also worn. The men’s apparel includes the dhoti, shirt, and jacket along with a turban. They often wear a sleeveless coat and pair it up with the decorative Jymphong during festivals and occasions.
The Puan, an attire consisting of the blouse, leggings, and the dupatta for headgear, is the traditional dress of Mizo women. The two-piece clothing called Puanchei, consisting of a long skirt and a shirt, is worn on occasions and at weddings. Traditionally, these are brightly colored, with checkered designs. The women have gorgeous blouses and headdresses to wear during performing cultural dances. The men of Mizoram simply put on a long piece of shirt-like garment. During summers they wear turbans, while in winters, they don coats over their garments, usually of red and white colors.
Nagaland takes pride in its ancestral heritage and its warrior history. The design of the shawl that the people wear depicts the social status of the wearer. The attire of the men is topped with a red headgear decked with black and white feathers of the Hornbill and the canine teeth of a wild boar. The bangles, necklaces, and tattoos depict the history of war and the sacrifices that the people went through.
Women drape the Oriya saree with a five-yard cotton ikat cloth. These sarees have deep primary colors like blue and red along with special ikat patterns. The handlooms of Odisha produce distinctive and popular sarees like Bomkai and Sambalpuri. Men prefer to wear shirts and pants. During occasions or traditional festivities, they wear kurta, dhoti, and Gamucha.
Women love colorful and intricately embroidered Salwar Kameez and Patiala pants. The turban of the Sikh man is a symbol of honor. Along with kurta, the men wear light and baggy Tehmat pyjamas as the lower garment. Jooti is the conventional Punjabi footwear worn by both men and women.
Generally, the women of Rajasthan wear the long skirt called Ghagra along with the Kanchli blouse. The men, on the other hand, wear a kurta, Churidar, dhoti, Angarkha, and Paggar. Their turban-like headdress is called the Safa. All across the state, the conventional dressing style varies according to preferences.
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The women of the Bhutia tribe of Sikkim wear the traditional full-sleeved blouse called Hanju and a colorful, woolen cloth called Pangden. Often they top it with the Kushen jacket. The men wear waistcoats called Jyajya and the shirt called Yenthatse. Shambo is their traditional cap. The Lepcha women wear the Dumvam garment, along with the loose-fitted blouse called Tago. Nepali women have a blouse called Chaubandi that they wear with sarees. The men wear kurta-styled Daura and comfortable trousers called Sural.
Men in Tamil Nadu, drape the Angavastra around their shoulders and the cotton lungi around their waist. The women choose the perfect saree that fits the occasion. They are usually made of silk and have delicate designs and colors.
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The famous sarees woven in Telangana include the Pochampally saree and the Gadwal saree. Pochampally weave is commonly done in the tie-and-dye technique, also called the ikkat weave. The dhoti worn by men is also called the Pancha. The traditional Sherwani of Hyderabad was preferred by the nobles and the Nizam. Today, it is worn during festivals and occasions.
The Rignai of Tripura is a broad piece of cloth wrapped around the waist, and the Risa is a shorter upper garment. Both these clothes are traditionally worn by women, especially during occasions. The Rignai and Risa fabric are designed with deft artistry and beautiful patterns. The men usually wear the Rikutu Gamcha along with the shirt called Kubai. They like to accessorize with bead necklaces.
The men of Uttarakhand wear a kurta shirt as the upper garment along with a dhoti, pyjama, or lungi. The turban is important in completing the traditional attire. Most of the women prefer to wear the Ghagri skirt along with a colorful blouse called Choli. They cover their head with an additional long cloth called Orni, which they usually fix at the waist. The traditional bridal costume of Ghagra-Pichora is decked with gold and silver embroidery.
The women of Uttar Pradesh usually prefer saree or Salwar-Kameez while the men go for kurta, dhoti, or pyjama. The men also wear Pagri. During festivities, they wear the richly embroidered kurta called the Sherwani. Women wear the Lehenga and Choli along with Orni.
The white saree with broad, red borders is an iconic and favorite festive wear for Bengali women. The Salwar-Kameez is also popular alongside sarees. The men traditionally wear the Panjabi, which is a long shirt in the style of a kurta. Their lower garments include cotton pyjama, dhoti, and lungi.
Jammu and Kashmir
The customary wear in the Union Territory, Jammu, and Kashmir, called Pheran, is a long gown that extends below the knees. The women’s Pheran is usually embroidered at the hems and collars with golden threads. Muslim women also wear kameez-suit and Burkha. The men wear turbans with Churidaar and Pyjama, or skull caps along with the Pheran or ‘Salwar’ suits.
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The Diversity in Traditional Dresses of Indian States
The clothing of traditional India is rich in artistry and uniqueness. The citizens take pride in their ethnic wear, style, and ornamentations. The traditional dresses of Indian states, worn by the diverse set of people in the country reflect the depth of the rich history and culture of India.