Traditional Himachal Pradesh Dresses - The Cultural Identity of Himachal

Himachal Pradesh is the Indian state which resides in the lap of mighty Himalayas. The natives of the state are known as 'Pahari'. The culture of Himachal Pradesh is rich in diversity and traditions, and thanks to the lofty terrains and challenging reach, it is not yet influenced by the western glitters, largely. There are many communities, many religions, and people from different castes that dwell in harmony in this state. Their cultures are exhibited in their traditions, rituals and their dresses.

The attire of Himachal people is very beautiful and vibrant. And it's made according to the harsh weather conditions that linger all year round. Warm and cosy, the handwoven dresses are an attraction for people who visit the state from other parts of the country and world. Right from the caps to the dresses to the footwear, most of it is weaved manually. The handloom has risen to become the cultural identity of Himachal Pradesh.

Traditional Himachal Pradesh Dresses of Men

There are mainly two classes in which the community of Himachal Pradesh has been divided: Rajput and Brahmins. The attires are largely identical, but some differences can be noted. Rajput Men wear tight Churidar Pyjamas with kurta and long silk overcoat over it. The overcoats are designed with yak leather and gold threads which help them keep warm. They wear a turban on their heads which are colour-dyed and starch-stiffened. Turbans along with moustaches are considered as a symbol of pride and honour among the Rajputs. Brahmin Men can be seen wearing dhoti and kurta along with a waistcoat or an overcoat and sometimes a turban. Priests mostly wear white clothes and a small soft towel-like cloth on their shoulders.

For occasions and festive ceremonies, men wear new kurta pyjamas along with embroidered caps or turbans and sometimes shawls.  

Dresses Of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh Dresses
Pahari Topi (Source)

Traditional Himachal Pradesh Dresses of Women

Rajput women wear long kurtas stretching from their neck to their toe. This began following the purdah (veil) system which is no more prevalent in the region. They also wear Ghaghris, Salwar-Kameez and Cholis. Cholis are the shirts which are worn on the upper part with a long skirt and a lot of bangles.

Brahmin women also wear similar clothing like salwar kameez and ghagra choli. For occasions and celebrations like weddings, they wear long pyjamas, traditional ghagra choli woven at homes with intricate embroidery and new rings and bangles. Footwear is designed by grass and animal skin to keep the feet warm.

Dresses Of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh Dresses

Traditional Jewelry & Ornaments of Himachali Women

There are many ornaments and jewelry that are worn by both Brahmin and Rajput women: Chakk (silver domed and worn on the top of head), Chanderhar (necklace or pendant worn in weddings), Chiri (similar to maangtika), Toke (wristbands), Pari (foot necklace), Jhumka (earrings), etc.

Pashmina Shawl

It is a kind of Shawl that is made from the hair of Pashmina goat. These shawls are demanded all over the world throughout the year. The special trait of this shawl is that it is very light weighted and soft but still keeps warm in harsh and cold winter. They are sold in different colour shades with intricate embroideries and delicate designs which make them very costly at times. To the Pashmina fibre, some soft silk is also added to make it feel smoother and shine brighter.
Dresses Of Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh Dresses

Caps and Shawls from Kullu

The best souvenir to take home when you visit Himachal are the caps of Kullu. The traditional but stylish and trendy headwear is worn by most people in Himachal and is sold to many tourists as well. It is circular in shape with some beautiful design facing the front weaved in wool or cotton and sometimes velvet. They get the name from the source Kullu, a place in Himachal but are now available across the state. Kullu is also popular for its shawls which come in many designs and shades. They are designed geometrically and often on the boundaries. Some designs are inspired by plants and animals which are woven on the base of lighter colours like white, grey, lime or off-white. They are made from lamb wool, pashmina fibres, Angora or Yak wool. The costs depend on the availability of the wool.

Tribal Himachali Dresses

There are many tribes that exist in Himachal Pradesh in regions like Kinnaur, Lahaul, Spiti and few areas of Manali. Kinnaur is a beautiful valley in the northeastern part of Himachal Pradesh, and dresses are Kinnaur are quite popular all over the country. Some popular items are Dohru, stall, and Bushehri topi. Women can be seen wearing bulky silver ornaments, especially in functions and events like marriages and religious gatherings. Tribal people from Lahaul- Spiti district also wear attractive garments in eloquent colours. Traditional attire for men in Manali includes 'Sultan' (on the lower part of the body) and 'Chola' (on upper part) with a belt called 'Dora'. Women wear long shawl called 'Pattoo' and Dhatu' or 'Thipu' on their heads. The tribal dresses are mostly hand woven and are therefore so popular. People of Himachal Pradesh are fond of wearing traditional and ethnic costumes. They feel pride in it and want to protect and safeguard their ethnicity and diversity which has made its mark across the world. Alongside Brahmins and Rajputs, there are many tribes which dwell in the hilly state. Some of them are Gaddis, Gujjars, Kinnars, lahaulis and Pangawals. Their ethnic costumes are also similar to Rajputs and Brahmins.

Dresses Of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh Dresses
Kinnauri Woman (Source)

The western influence is not yet prominent but has become visible in the young generations. Shirts and Jeans among males and tops and skirts among females are worn by the younger people of the state.  Ethnic attire is preferred during rituals and ceremonies, The dresses and attires which are worn are not only derived from their rich culture but also help them to tackle rough weather conditions of the Himalayas. And this brilliant creativity has now turned into a prospering handloom business exporting products around the world.

This post was published by Vishwas Jain

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