Indian Clothing - Dhoti Kurta

Dhoti kurta is the traditional Indian clothing of men. Unlike other dresses, it is an unstitched piece of cloth usually 5 yards long that is tied around the waist and legs. The knot is tied at the waist. Dhoti is known by different names at different places such as Laacha in Punjabi, dhuti in Bangla, veshti in Tamil, panche in Kannada, mundu or veshti in Malayalam, dhotar in Marathi, and pancha in Telugu etc. In Northern parts of India, dhoti is worn along with Kurta and together the attire is called “Dhoti Kurta”.

In India, the garment is predominant in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Odisha and Konkan and Goa. In the northern parts of Gujarat and southern parts of Rajasthan the Pancha is worn with a short kurta called kediya on top. In both north and south India, notably Bihar and parts of Sri Lanka, the garment is worn with a kurta on top, the combination known simply as dhoti kurta. In Bengal the kurta is known as a “panjabi” and the combination is called “dhuti panjabi”. In Tamil Nadu, it is worn with a sattai (shirt). It is worn with a chokka (shirt) or a jubba in Andhra Pradesh. In Assam, the kurta is called panjabi and the combination is known as suriya panjabi. In Pakistan, dhotis are commonly worn by men as a traditional dress in the Punjab. The lungi is a similar piece of cloth worn widely in Asia and Africa in a similar manner.

In South India, men wear it with an “angavastram”, which is also an unstitched piece of cloth that is draped over the shoulders. Sometimes, it is worn along with a shirt known as “chokka”. In certain parts of the country, men wear Lungi, which is a similar piece of unstitched cloth, which is draped in the same manner as Dhoti. It is mostly worn on the informal occasions. However, Dhoti is concerned to be a formal ethnic dress in India. More often, men prefer wearing dhoti on the traditional family occasions. Even in the posh colonies, men wear their traditional dress dhoti.

The cultural icons such as the classical musicians, dancers and poets can be quite often seen clad in dhoti kurta. They derive pride in exhibiting the rich culture of their country. In South India, men dress up in dhoti on almost every cultural occasion. Infact, in the South Indian weddings, almost all the males wear their traditional pancha at the time of customary ceremonies. In a few parts of Southern India, it is expected that men should be wearing veshti and angavastram at the time of entering into the precincts of the temple.

The strong believers and supporters of the Hare Krishna movement have made dhoti their dress code. The practitioners wear saffron and white color clothing, draped in the traditional style. Mahatma Gandhi used to wear the ethnic dress pancha on the public functions. Even the Bengalis wear dhoti kurta on the festivity celebrations of Durga puja. Rajputs as in “Thakurs” are quite particular about wearing dhoti.

However, since the past few decades, western dressing style has been gaining momentum. Men now prefer wearing suits at work. Traditional clothing is preferred only on the family functions. Youngsters consider dhoti as an outdated unfashionable garment that is associated with a rustic look. Thus, its fashion has somewhat faded and now it is worn by men at home primarily due to its comfort. There can be different styles of draping a dhoti; however, the common style that is adopted for tying dhoti by Indian men is as follows:

How to Wear a Dhoti

  • Take a long piece of unstitched cloth and measure as to how much cloth is required on either side of the body.
  • After having divided the cloth according to the measurements, tie a knot near the navel.
  • Make a series of folds on the right side and tuck the folded part at the waist.
  • Similarly, make a series of folds on the left side.
  • Take the folded part of cloth from between your legs and then tuck it from behind and your dhoti has been draped.