The Angavastram, also known as the Thundu, is a religious accessory that is predominantly worn by Hindu men in South India. It is traditionally a long white or off-white rectangular cloth that is commonly worn with the veshti or the South Indian dhoti and is also sold as a set.
The Angavastram cloth was devised as a way to wipe one’s hands face and feet and leaving it outside the temple, so that purity could be maintained while offering prayers. However, in modern times the Angavastram is used by many groups such as farmers, Hare Krishna devotees and Brahmin temple priests.
Traditionally, this cloth was made in white or off-white silk with little to no embellishments, save a strip or two or colored thread or gold woven along the breadth of the cloth.Since economically backward classes couldn’t afford silk, they used cotton, but on similar quality parameters. The lack of embellishments on the garment is a symbol of the fact that the devotee has no material attachments but is more enamored by god.
The making of the Angavastram in today’s times largely depends on its uses. For instance, Thundus worn by religious priests are necessarily made of silk, with a preference for raw matka silk. The use of wool or any synthetic fiber is strictly forbidden. The draping style of the Angavastram also varies. For instance, in the South the Thundu is bunched up and worn around the neck like a dupatta by the groom and also the bride’s maternal uncle in some cases. In traditional Bengali weddings too, the groom drapes the Angavastram, however it is draped like a sheet around the shoulders and hangs loosely down the front.
There aren’t any innovations in the Angavastram as it is a religious cloth. However, certain Hindu sects prefer wearing warm colors as they are also considered auspicious.