India is all about diversity in many ways like vegetation, climate, people, their varied cultures, customs and ofcourse, costumes! Owing to various climatic conditions and cultural backgrounds, people in different regions have been wearing different styles of clothes that are known to be their traditional dressing. They sew, embroider or decorate them in special designs to make them look distinct, charming and unique in their own way, representing the places they belong to.
Traditional Attires of North India
A major part of North-India like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal experiences extreme cold climate most part of the year, that requires proper clothing. In Jammu and Kashmir colorful Pherans and Shawls are worn by women, which are popular for the intricate embroidery styles and the stuff they are made of. They also wear Poots or double gowns that look colorful due to the unique threadwork as part of the embroidery. They cover their heads with well-tucked embroidered scarves. It is said that a Kashmiri dress is incomplete without the accessories that comprise Kashmiri ear-rings known as Jhumkis or Chand-baale. The men wear long robes made of pure wool known as Goucha, which is tightened at the waist. They wear long boots made of animal skin which keep their feet warm to manage with extreme cold.
In Haryana, women wear short Ghaghras or skirts, Kurtis and Chunder or Chunris to go well with
them. These Chunders may be of various colors, and tucked with lovely laces. They are used to cover the head which is a ‘Riwaaz’ for married women here. The men wear Dhoti, Kurta and Pagri. Holding their Lathh, they look typical Haryanvi. The Pagri or head gear is usually the same but is tied and worn in different ways by people of different regions and that makes it look different. Apart from these, the usual lehengas and ghagras and lachas are also worn.
Clothing in Western India
The western region of India comprises of Rajasthan and Gujarat that experience very hot and dry summers and chilly winters. Rajasthan is also known for an opulent sense of colors as seen in their lively and radiant costumes. Unlike the sombre and sandy backdrop, the amazing mirror, bead and stone-work on them make them dazzle reflecting a wide array of colors. Due to extreme weather conditions, the people cover themselves adequately. The village belles wear bright colored Ghaghra-Cholis and Odhnis that are adorned with explicit gota and zari work.
Rajasthani women also wear Bandhini tie-n-dye sarees. They
wear head to toe ornaments like Maang-teeka, Matha-patti, Rakhdi or Ghundi for forehead, Kanthi for neck area, Pajeb or anklets, Arsi or ring and Kanghan or bangles. These jewellery items are either made of gold, silver or brass. The Kundan and Lac jewellery of Rajasthan is quite popular. The men wear Dhoti, Potia, Angrakha, Banda, Dhabla, Pachewara and Bugatari. The most essential part of clothing is that head dress or turban or Pencha or Safa, tied in a unique way. Both men and women wear Jootis, either made of animal skin or hard cloth. They are embroidered to match up well with the costumes worn. `
In rural parts of Gujarat, the men wear cotton-made Chorno or shorts that are worn as lower and Angarakhu the upper clothing. Along with this, they wear thickly folded turban that is called as Phento. Women wear the heavily embroidered Chaniyo the petticoat and equally embroidered bodice known as Choli. They cover their head and upper body with Odhni the colored piece of cloth. They also wear saris in colorful Gujarati prints. Males wear Dhoti, coat and turban. Ornaments worn both by males and females include kanthi round the neck, kandora at the waist and vinti worn in fingers. They are usually made of silver.
Maharashtrian men wear Dhoti and shirt along with the headgear Pheta or Patka or Rumal. The women wear typical Maharashtrian sari known as Lugade with mega-sleeved Choli or blouse. They wear the sari differently by tucking it between the legs. They get that traditional Marathi look by wearing the typical Nathni or nose-ring.
Costumes of East and North-East India
Traditional Bengali women wear white saree with red border especially during festivals or special occasions. The men wear dhoti-kurta which is again traditional attire of Bengal though most men of today hardly know how to wear one!
The traditional costumes of north-east India comprising of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur,
Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, are far different from that of rest of India. Women in Assam wear special Assam silk sarees. They also wear the three-piece dress known as Mekhla Chador.
There are many tribals in Arunachal Pradesh. The Buddhist Monpas tribal women wear sleeveless chemise and a jacket over it. A printed cloth is tied over their waist. Along with the dress, they wear lots of artificial jewellery. The women of Naga tribe wear lovely woven petticoat and a blouse.
Manipuri women wear Innaphi the shawl, a wrap-around called Phanek and a hard-stuff skirt called as Sarong. During festive season, for bridals and for dance performances, the women wear Potlois.
In Meghalaya, the Garo tribal women wear an unstitched cloth known as Jainsen and a wrap-around. They wear the lovely Endi shawls which are quite popular for the fine work done on them. The Khasi women wear ankle-length Jainsen with a blouse and a cotton shawl known as tap-moh khlieh. They wear lots of gold and silver ornaments on special occasions.
The Mizo women wear bright-colored Puan that looks like regular churidaar-kurta. For weddings, they wear Puanchei. They wear head-dress in dance performances. The Halam, Khalkloo, Lushei and Kuki-Chin wear lovely woven clothes. The Khakloo tribe wears Rinai a draped cloth around the waist, along with Risa worn in upper part.
Clothing Styles of South-India
The clothing styles of all the states of south-India is almost the same. The traditional costumes for women in Kerala are white colored silk sari with broad golden zari border. As the trends have been changing now, the people wear lots of colors and designs. Men wear Lungis and shirt or short Kurta. On special occasions they wear Mundu and Neriathu which match with the female costume in white color and golden zari border.
There are many tribals in Karnataka and the attire they are found in depict their love and
experimentation with colors. Men wear Lungis and a shirt along with a piece of silk or cotton cloth known as Angavastram that is kept casually on their neck, covering shoulder area. Women wear Saris of various color combinations. The look of the sari depends upon the way it is draped. The Kodava women in the state wear sari in a different way with pleats at the back. They also wear lovely scarves on their heads, which is a rare and strange combination.
In Andhra Pradesh, women commonly wear Sarees and men wear Dhoti-Kurta.
Some Muslim women wear Salwaar and Kameez while men wear Kurta-Pyjama
with special Fez cap. The Lambadi tribe of Andhra is known for the
lovely colors of beads and mirror-studded costumes they wear. They wear
scarves on their shoulders. The women wear long-sleeved Choli and Sarees
Most south-Indian women wear Kanchipuram silk sarees that look beautiful with bright borders and heavy gold work. Cotton, chiffon and crepe are also worn by the women.
With a wide range of costumes that people wear in India, the fashion trends about western outfits have been bringing about several changes in clothing style. Yet, the traditional wears are seen during special occasions like festivals and marriages, and in villages. The explicit artwork on these costumes makes them unique. No matter how westernized we may turn, our traditional outfits have always enticed and will stay in demand even among people across the borders and seas!