Pure Cotton Dhoti and Angavastra
These textile pieces, woven of pure cotton yarn with fine and well measured weaves, are a pair of ritual wears for a rite’s performing priest and the host to preside over such rite. Sewn costumes are strictly prohibited for the presiding priest and if it is a community rite, such as Shatakundi yajna requiring hundred priests to simultaneously perform at hundred yajna-kund, and as many hosts, all presiding priests as well as hosts are required to be in unstitched ensemble. Not merely preferable, God’s blessings double if a household performs family deity’s daily morning-evening worship around his domestic shrine in unstitched set of wears. Alike divine bounty is multiplied if one renders in such ritual wears service to the goddess Lakshmi, Ganesha or any other divine power on occasions like Diwali, Dasahara …
Now the classical styles, the ensemble’s two components, one worn around the body’s lower half, known in the tradition as antariya, and the other, carried over shoulders wrapping around the breast, the uttariya, are known now as dhoti and angavastra. A stylistic angavastra is used nowdays also as the component of the most fashionable and ethnic wear like sherwani or achakan worn on marriage-like ceremonial occasion. This pair, though crafted out of a simple cotton length, has a plain field the borders on both edges designed with golden zari extend their aura over the entire field and a simple costume begins glowing with rare beauty, gorgeousness and grace. In its elegance, grace and ethnicity which the wear’s overall concept extends the textile pieces outstand on one hand, in simplicity that a ritual wear should have and on the other in its rare beauty and resplendence.
Though in pursuance of the dictates of scriptures as ritual wears silks, linen, jute, grasses … are more preferable, the summer climate that the Indian land has for over eight or nine months a year, a set crafted out of cotton textile is a more suited wear. Scriptural emphasis is more on stitched-unstitched classes of costumes, not so much on the kind of fabric. Besides, for many humble yajniks who cannot always afford a costlier wear, or for those who have to accomplish daily worship or have to perform a yajna for a number of days requiring every day a fresh or a fresh washed pair of wears silks or linen – not fit for daily wash, are not as suited as a pair of cotton textile. Besides, when seated around a yajna-kund with fire ablaze a cotton wear like the one as here is a more pleasant companion.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient India. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.