Traditional Indian garments, though they have endured for centuries, are inspired by the rich traditions of Indian religion and literature. They are not relics, however, and are seen frequently on the streets of Indian cities and rural villages even today, on both men and women. Many Indian garments require no sewing, and are worn simply by draping them on the body in different ways. Their popularity can also vary by region; e.g., the women of the Punjabi region traditionally wear the salwar kameez.
Indian women wear the sari, which resembles a dress but is really a strip of fabric, measuring five or six yards, that can be draped in different ways. Fabrics vary from cotton to rich garments made of silk. They are accompanied by a close-fitting top called the choli. Saris can be printed with elaborate patterns and adorned with jewels, such as those worn in traditional wedding ceremonies or inspired by the costumes in Bollywood films.
Lehenga and Dupatta
The lehenga is an especially elegant form of Indian women's dress, and has become very popular for weddings. It consists of a choli that may be backless, and a long, full skirt. It often includes a dupatta, an elaborate rectangular cloth that can be draped over the head and shoulders like a veil, or worn in many other ways.
The salwar kameez is another choice for Indian women, consisting of loose trousers that are drawn tight at the waist and ankles known as salwar. They are accompanied by a long, loosefitting top called a kameez, or a tighter top called a churidat. Women usually wear it with a dupatta. This form of dress originated in the Punjabi regions of northern Indian, but quickly became popular everywhere in the country.
Kurta, Dhoti and Lungi
In the past, men wore a long strip of fabric known as a dhoti for everyday dress, which was wrapped around the waist and legs and knotted. It is often paired with a collarless tunic called kurta. In hotter climates, men might wear little more than lungi, which is a strip of fabric stitched to form a circle, drawn around the waist and knotted.
Other Men's Dress
Kurta can also be worn over matching, loosefitting drawstring trousers known as pyjama, usually made from white cotton. Formal occasions might call for a man to wear sherwani, a long coat with a single row of buttons, which may be richly embroidered for events like weddings, and might be paired with turban, a strip of cloth wrapped around the head. A rich-looking silk turban can symbolise one's status in the community.