India’s rich cultural heritage can be seen in our art, architecture, traditions, values, and beliefs. And it can be seen in our attire, the clothes we wear.
Traditional Indian clothing is unique and different from the modern form of attire. It is ethnic and often conforms to a particular region of the country. Traditional clothes tend to be made from natural fabrics like silk and cotton and are generally worn during festive or celebratory occasions.
And no matter how modern we become, we as a race, as a country, can never let go of our roots and culture. So everyone, young or old, looks upon traditional clothes as special clothes to be worn on special occasions.
Both men and women have forms of attire that fall into this category. And although different States have their specific traditional clothes, some have come to be accepted as generic forms worn by most people in the country.
The Indian traditional dress for women consists of rich, bright, flowy garments with beautiful designs, texture, embellishments and exquisite embroidery. The overall effect is classy and grand. When it comes to traditional clothes, there is no dearth, and one can choose from several options.
The saree is one of the most traditional forms of attire for Indian women. Sensuous and flattering, a saree is for every woman, whatever the reason or the season. Moreover, different parts of the country have different styles of wearing a saree; therefore, most Indian women can identify with it.
The saree ensemble has three parts: the saree, blouse and petticoat. The blouse, with its designs and styles, adds to the glamour.
2. Salwar Kameez
A salwar kameez is a form of traditional wear that originates in the country’s northern part. It has traditionally been worn by the women of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. But nowadays, it is worn by women from all over India. It consists of loose trousers called the salwar, which is narrow at the ankles and is topped by a long top called the kameez. It is usually worn with a dupatta, a piece of cloth that could be plain, printed or embroidered.
It is considered to be a practical and comfortable form of attire. Over the years, this has been made to look different by varying the length and shape of the kurta.
It had a modernized version, too, where the salwar is replaced by straight pants or palazzos and may or may not be worn with a dupatta.
3. Churidar Kurta
A churidar kurta is very similar to the salwar kameez, with the difference being the bottom which is a churidar. The churidar is a variation of the salwar. It is loose above the knees and tightly fitted from the calf and below. It has horizontal gathers near the ankles. This has also been modernized, like the salwar kameez, with the churidar being replaced by straight or wide-bottomed pants. In this case, also the dupatta is optional.
4. Lehenga Choli
A form of traditional wear which is more festive is the lehenga choli, a popular form of attire which comes from the States of Gujrat and Rajasthan. It is traditionally worn during Navratri, and its mirror embellishments look beautiful.
The outfit consists of a long skirt called the ghagra or the lehenga with a choli or a short top. An odhni or dupatta adds to the grace of the outfit. The outfit, with its intricate and exquisite embroidery, is a favoured form of bridal attire in the North of India.
The lehenga choli is often accompanied by a chunri, a bright and colourful piece of cloth which is often bordered with lace and wrapped around the head with one end trailing down the back.
5. Sharara Kurta
The Sharara kurta is another form of festive wear. It has pleated loose ornate trousers and is usually worn with a long kameez and paired with a dupatta. Nowadays, it is also worn with a short kurta.
A sharara is fitted at the waist and is fully flared till the end with a considerable flair or ghera. It is a traditional Lucknowi attire that originated during the time of the Nawabs.
6. Gharara Kurta
This is a variation of the Sharara, with the loose trousers replaced by well-structured pleated pants. These are fitted close to the body up to the knee and flare out at the knee or a little above it. The seam is often decorated with piping or golden zari lace.
Men, too, have several options when it comes to traditional wear, the traditional dress. They can choose as per the occasion, their style or choice.
1. Kurta Pyjama
A Kurta Pyjama consists of a long shirt worn with loose pants called the pyjama, which are usually in a plain colour. Kurta designs and fabric can vary from silk to cotton, plain to printed, and can be replaced by a churidar or straight pants.
A traditional form of dressing, it is worn during the festive season and even to lounge around in the house.
2. Dhoti Kurta
A Dhoti is another form of traditional attire for Indian men. The dhoti is fashioned out of a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth, usually around 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted in the front or back.
It is generally paired with a kurta and hence the name dhoti kurta.
The dhoti is paired with an angavastram in the south. This ensemble is regarded as both a formal and informal form of attire.
3. Bandh Gala
A Jodhpuri or a Bandhgala is a formal evening suit from India. The bandhgala is a band-collared jacket paired with a trouser, a closed-neck suit, and hence the name bandhgala.
It originated in the Jodhpur State and was popularized during the British Raj in India. Like a western suit, it has a coat and a trouser and, at times, is accompanied by a vest. It combines the western cut with Indian hand embroidery, which may be found on the neck. The trousers could come with the standard fitting or be loose from the top, which is suitable for weddings and other formal gatherings.
4. Achkan/ Sherwani Churidar
This is a traditional wedding attire for Indian men, though not necessarily just for the groom. A sherwani is like a knee-length jacket with beautiful embellishments and embroidery over the whole garment. Usually, an achkan is worn with a pair of pyjamas or a dhoti and traces its origins to medieval times but has evolved to become contemporary wear.
An achkan has a frontal opening and side openings traditionally tied with strings. The Indian traditional dress is our heritage which we should flaunt ait pride and honour.