One of the more amazing things to learn about India and the Indian people is finding out how unique the country and the people are. One of the places to look for this is in their clothing. To learn Indian attire is like discovering a timeless style.
The clothes all come in bold, vibrant colors that showcase India’s rich heritage and traditions. Surprisingly, Indian clothes used no stitching and most clothes are all ready to wear as soon as they were woven.
The ‘sari’ still reigns in traditional Indian clothing. It is a long piece of cloth whose charms reside in the fact that it is not cut or tailored for any particular size. The cloth could be anything cotton, silk or any other fabric and comes in different textures and patterns.
The manner of wearing it, as well as its color and texture, indicate the status, age, occupation, region and religion of the woman.
The dhoti or the sari, combined with a stanapatta is the basic clothing ensemble for Indian women. The ‘choli’ or the short blouse under the sari completes the get-up.
In contrast to traditionally-clothed majority of Indian women, the Indian men tend to lean on western clothes like shirts and trousers. Men from the villages, however, are comfortable in ‘kurtas’, ‘dhotis’ and ‘pyjamas’. Of course, all of these come in a merry mix of colors and textures.
The use of gold ornaments is popular because gold is believed to have the power to purify anything it touches. They are popular with both Indian men and women.
For women, these ornaments given at her wedding (dowry) is her inheritance from her father and constitutes as her financial security throughout her life.
Made from glass beads to gold and diamond, necklaces are all-time popular favorites for all girls and women of all ages. A special one, the “mangalasutra”, is worn only by married Indian women, the equivalent of the western wedding ring. A woman wears it during her wedding and takes it off only when her husband dies.
They are believed to be protective bands and married women wear them as symbolic guards over their husbands. Made of gold, silver, wood or glass, bangles are now worn by women of all ages.
Rings for the ears, fingers and toes
All kinds of ear ornaments are popular all over. An Indian girl’s ears are usually pierced before her first birthday.
The other important ring ornaments are finger rings, toe rings, and anklets. The finger rings are made of various materials and designs and worn by all women. They have become common it is no longer considered a symbol for marriages.
Married women are the ones who still wear toe rings and anklets. Feet ornaments, however, are usually made of silver because gold is a pure metal and is not to be worn on the feet. (Only women of royal Indian families can wear gold on their feet.)
Nose pins are more common than nose rings, but both are symbols of purity and marriage. However, many single Indian girls wear them today.
A mother applies ‘kajal’ to the eyes of her child as early as six days old. They also paint a small black dot on the forehead to mar the child’s beauty. This so-called “imperfection” protects the child from evil.
Sindoor (dot on the forehead)
This dot on the forehead of a woman indicates her married status, as well as power and protection for her husband. This is applied by her husband during the marriage ceremony.
All things considered, there is more to Indian attire and discovering timeless style. One also discovers timeless beauty in them.