The ubiquitous desert of Rajasthan does not appear depressing. That is because just like the spirits of the native Rajasthanis, their clothes reflect a spectacular vibrancy and rich cultural lineage. The traditional costumes of Rajasthan are a visual bliss, although they designed keeping in mind the weather conditions of the state.
Mainly soft cotton is loosely cut out to cover up most parts of the body. This is to prevent sunburns caused by the harsh desert sun. The weather being extreme in nature in this region of India, the winters too are extremely cold. In the winter, the natives usually wear beautifully crafted woollen shawls, scarves and cloaks. Tie and die, bandhani, mothra, lehariya and block prints are some popular styles. Costumes are available in different colours, such as, vivid red, pink, and green. Most of the dressed are embellished with showy coloured stones, gems, intricate embroideries and mirrors.
Traditional Rajasthani skirts teamed up with blouses and odni are essentially the dress of the women of Rajasthan. The skirts are called ghaghra. Narrow in the waist with increasing flare and width towards the base, it reaches above their calves. The pleats, width and work on these ghaghras are a customary symbol of the health and stature of the womenfolk. Depending on the length of the blouses, they are called choli, kanchuki or kanchali.
The 10 feet long and 5 feet wide piece of cloth deserves a special mention. Called odhni, it is an integral part of women’s costume in Rajasthan. Draped gracefully over the head and body, odhni is a mark of conformance and respect to the cultural tradition.
The chunky silver jewellery you are in love with is actually a part of Rajasthani costumes of womenfolk. It is worn generally by the women at the rural nooks of the state. Designs are inspired by natural elements like moon, sun, leaves and flowers. These jewelleries are often made in silver for the tribes like Mena, Gayari, Bhil, Rabari and Raikas.
Made of vegetable tanned leather, the traditional footwear of Rajasthan is beautifully crafted by the artisans using motifs, such as, cowry shells, mirrors, bells, beads and exquisite embroideries that go with chaniya choli. The footwear is called jooti or mojri.
Men of Rajasthan usually wear a turban, which is known as a pagri or safa. A pagri usually measures 82 feet in length and 8 feet in width, while the safa is smaller and broader. The styles and designs to adorn a turban differ in a way that the men of Udaipur generally prefer wearing a flat pagri. The men of Jaipur are mostly seen wearing angular pagris, while the men of Jodhpur prefer a safa. It also varies depending on the caste, class or region of the wearer.
Angarkha means something that protects your body. Worn with a pyjama or a dhoti, an angarkha is a wrapped v- neck tunic that is tied at the side. These can fall above or below the knee length. Dhotis are draped artistically. Generally worn by men from royal or higher classes, patka is a beautiful garment that is worn around the waist. Men also have jootis or mojaris for footwear but with masculine and subtle designing on them.
Did you know that the kings and queens of Rajasthan had special departments for their dresses to be made and kept? Rangkhana was responsible for taking care of the dyeing, chapakhana for the printing, and siwankahan for the tailoring. Two other departments - toshakhanand and kapaddwadra – were responsible to take care of the daily and formal wears of the royals. Now that you know the head-to-toe of Rajasthani clothing, you can use the knowledge to dress up with your navratri chaniya choli this festive season.