Vast expanses of sand are what come to mind when you hear Rajasthan. Rajasthan's men and women dress in vibrant tones to add colour to the monotonous blue sky and yellow sand!
From the dazzling mirror work on long skirts to the countless colours on men’s turban, everything that the people of Rajasthan wear holds a deep significance. Their dresses are not just fancy, they define the people and their connection with the land.
The traditional Rajasthani outfits for both men and women are elaborate; whenever the present generation gets a chance, they wear them with pride.
The traditional attire of men finds its root in the kind of life that men in Rajasthan had during the ancient royal era. Whether it is the majestic turban or the traditional angrakha and dhoti, each piece of Rajasthan clothing is extremely special for the people.
Angrakha is the epitome of the traditional dress of Rajput-Rajasthani men. It is the luxury version of a simple cotton kurta that is worn by common men. The name of the attire literally translates to protecting the body. This upper-body garment is traditionally made from cotton fabric.
There are two kinds of angrakha that men in Rajasthan wear. One is mid-thigh length with a frock-like design. The other is straight and knee-length ones, also known as kurtas. These attires are customised to make them breathable and comfy against the hot weather. Sometimes, angrakhas are ornate with mirror work or geometric circular patterns to make them gorgeous and fit to be worn on special occasions.
Bandhgala is also a traditional attire that looks similar to a blazar and is made from rich fabric. It is worn for grand ceremonies and occasions over angrakhas.
Dhoti is not just traditional but also the most ancient dress in Rajasthan. The fabric of a dhoti is pure cotton and it is white in colour most of the time. It is a single piece of long cloth that is tied around the waist and wrapped all the way from the hip to the ankle and then passed between the legs and tugged on the waistband a little above the tailbone. The length varies from knee to ankle according to their preferences.
With a touch of trending fashion, pyjamas are simple versions of trousers made from pure cotton fabric. While the cotton fabric is worn daily, on occasions, men wear silk pyjamas that are often ornated with colourful borders or intricate embroidery work.
It just wasn’t that only the Rajput men were brave. Rajput women’s bravery never ceases to amaze us. These fearless women also knew how to celebrate and flaunt their beautiful traditional attires during festivities and even in everyday life. Here are some of the traditional dresses that women in Rajasthan wear.
Ghagras are the signature dress of Rajasthani women. These are the most iconic attire that is appreciated and popular across the country. The attire consists of two parts.
The bottom part is a long flaunting skirt decorated with different geometric patterned fabric works, mirror work or embroidery or enhanced with broad gota patti borders. The fabric of the skirt varies from georgette, crepe, chiffon and cotton to silk. Not just the fabric but also the colours of the skirt are diverse. Predominating fabric prints like Laharia, Tie-and-Dye, Mothra, Bandhej, and Chunari are popular and commonly worn across the state.
The other part of the ghagra is the blouse. Also known as kanchli, choli or kurti, it is an upper-body wear that can be custom-made as per body measurements or comes in different sizes. The blouse is also enhanced by different fabric prints, colours, clothing materials and various intricate designs and embroidery work.
The ethnic originality of the Ghagras has influenced the current fashion trend and dominates the bridal attire that is famously known as lehengas.
This piece of cloth is similar to that of a veil and completes the attire of Rajasthani women. It is a long piece of cloth about 3 metres long and around 2 metres wide. The fabric of Chunari or Odhini is very lightweight. These pieces of cloth are ornate with coral shells, beadwork, sequin or mirror work with beautiful embroidery features. It comes in different colours and is worn across the chest all the way from one side of the shoulder to the other side of the waist. Odhani or Chunari are must-wear for Rajasthani women. It acts as a veil and becomes a token of respect shown to the elders.
Known as turban or pagri, it is the trademark of Rajasthani men’s attire. The turbans are their pride and honour. The playfulness of various colours of the turbans is worn with their kurtas or angrakha. The cloth and the fabric design of each turban signify individuality. The cloth is twisted and wrapped and tied on the head. It is conventionally 8 inches in breadth and about 80 feet long. The pattern of the pagri distinguishes the economic status of men. Designing and multi-coloured pagris are worn by wealthy men whereas single-colour pagris are worn by common men. Turbans are worn in several ways. In Jaipur, men wear angular pagri, while in Udaipur flat pagris are wrapped around the head and in Jodhpur, Pagris having curved bands are worn.
Jewellery enhances the outlook of any attire. Intricate necklaces like Raani Har and Jadau sets are worn by wealthy women. Women from the tribal community or commoners group switch to jewellery made from brass, silver or alloy material. Women cover themselves with jewellery pieces like rakhdi or borla (maang tikkas) for the forehead, kaanbali, surliya for the ears, nathani or nose pins, for hands there are bajubandh or armlets and bangadi or bangles, kardhani goes round the waist, payals or anklets, and bichua or toe rings.
Rajasthani men also wear traditional jewellery like ear studs, bangle-like Balis, and necklaces made from crystal beads or semi-precious stones. Kamarbandh or waistband and the Patka are pieces of cloth resting on the shoulder worn by men from noble families.
The traditional footwear of Rajasthan is worn by both men and women. It is known as the Jooti or Mojari and is made from leather of camel, sheep or goat skin. Traditionally the colour of the footwear was black or brown but with the influence of modern fashion, multi-coloured Jootis are available in the market.
The vibrant colours of the attires from Ghagras to turbans are in contrast to the norm attires of arid regions. The eloquence of craftsmanship is evident in these traditional dresses worn by both men and women. The cheerfulness of the diverse colours makes the Rajasthani attire unique around the globe.