Indian women famously wear beautiful saris, for Indian men, the equivalent of
the traditional garment is the Dhoti.
is a common form of menswear in India. Originating from the Sanskrit word
“dhoti”, which means to “cleanse or wash”, the Dhoti refers to a cleansed
garment which is part of everyday wear and frequently worn. A form of men’s
trousers, the style of the Dhoti actually evolved from the Antriya, which was
an ancient garment what was worn by passing a cloth through one’s legs and
tucking it in at the back of the waist. The Antriya loosely covered one’s legs
and fell into long pleats at the front.
Indian men’s national and ethnic costume, the Dhoti is also referred to as dhoti,
chaadra, mardani, dhotar, and panchey. The traditional Dhoti is made of a
single rectangular piece of unstitched cloth. It usually measures around four
and a half to five meters or fifteen feet long.
is worn similarly to women’s saris, which is wrapped around one’s waist.
However, the main difference is that the Dhoti wraps around the waist and hips,
with one end then going between the legs and is finally knotted or tucked into
the waistband at either the front or the back. This way of wearing creates a
fit and silhouette that’s much like one’s usual trousers. The general Dhoti
style of bottoms drapes loosely around the thighs or upper area of the leg and
then gradually narrows and tapers down towards the hemline. However, the exact
way one wraps a Dhoti around the body to create a bottom garment largely
depends on the region where one is from. It is commonly worn over loincloth
undergarments such as a kaupinam or langot. One could imagine the Dhoti as a
hybrid of a sari and pair of harem trousers but of course, with a unique Indian flair.
silk are typically used for the Dhoti’s rectangular fabric. While black is
arguably the most common color for trousers, when it comes to Dhotis, plain
white and solid cream are the most prevalent colors worn by Indian men. The
style and fabric of the Dhoti make it both a practical and comfortable garment
to wear throughout the year, especially with India’s tropical climate.
Cotton dhotis, worn with a kurta or shirt, are usually meant for daily use and are
more casual in style. However, the Dhoti isn’t just for everyday wear. They are
actually worn for various occasions, including formal celebrations, traditional
events and religious ceremonies. When it comes to formal wear, including Dhotis
worn for wedding ceremonies, one will find men wearing silk Dhotis with
embroidered borders and paired with an angavasthram for the upper body. The
Dhoti is also typically worn by Indian politicians as it is a traditional
attire that conveys authority, dignity, and respect. Regardless of occasion,
the Dhoti is a traditional garment that distinguishes Indian men.
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