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Khasi folk dancers wearing "Jainboh" dhotis and other traditional garb. Shad Suk Mysiem.JPG
Khasi folk dancers wearing "Jaiñboh" dhotis and other traditional garb.

The dhoti, also known as veshti, [1] vetti, dhuti, mardani, chaadra, dhotar, or Jaiñbohorpanchey, is a type of sarong, tied in a manner that outwardly resembles "loose trousers". [2] [3] [4] It is a lower garment forming part of the national or ethnic costume for men in the Indian subcontinent. [5] The dhoti is fashioned out of a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth, usually around 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted either in the front or the back. Dhotis come in plain or solid colours, silk dhotis with embroidered borders are considered to be formal wear. The dhoti is touted as the male counterpart of the sari worn by females to religious and secular ceremonies (functions). [6]


Pitambar is a yellow silk dhoti, worn on auspicious occasions. [7] [8]


The word dhoti is derived from dhauti (Sanskrit: धौती), meaning to "cleanse or wash". [9] In the context of clothing, it simply refers to the cleansed garment which was worn as part of everyday attire [10] :129 The dhoti evolved from the ancient antriya which was passed through the legs, tucked at the back and covered the legs loosely, then flowed into long pleats at front of the legs, the same way it is worn today as formal dhoti. [10] :130 While informal dhoti wraps around both legs firmly, in this style the back side of dhoti is pulled to the front and tucked at the waist, before tucking the two loose ends at back, creating firmly fitted trouser-like dhoti that wraps around both legs. [11] [12]

Names in India

Relief depicting men in anatariya and uttariya, 1st century CE. In Welcome of Buddha - ACCN 34-2542 - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-24 5941.JPG
Relief depicting men in anatariya and uttariya, 1st century CE.
Female dancer dressed as Krishna in yellow dhoti. A Manipuri Dancer in traditional Krishna attire.jpg
Female dancer dressed as Krishna in yellow dhoti.

The garment is known by various names, such as:

or region
धोतीDhotī Sanskrit, Pali
धोतीDhotī Hindi
मर्दानीMardaani Hindi
ਚਾਦਰਾChaadra Punjabi
ଧୋତିDhotī Odia
ધૉતિયુDhotiyu Gujarati
धोतरDhotar a
ধুতিDhuti Bengali
ಕಚ್ಚೆ ಪಂಚೆ
Kachche Panche
आड नेसचे,
മുണ്ട്Muṇṭ‌ Malayalam
పంచPanchā Telugu
ధోవతిDhovathi Telugu
வேட்டிVaetti Tamil
دھوتیDhoti Urdu
a In Marathi, a dhotar is not the same as a pancha (plural panche).
 While the former is worn around the waist, the latter is normally
 used as a towel after a bath or shower (compare below).

Custom and usage

Dhoti is usually worn over a kaupinam or langot, types of loincloth undergarments.

Indian Relief of Ashoka, circa 1st century BC, from the Amaravathi village, Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh (India), in the Guimet Museum (Paris).jpg
A Chakravati wears a pancha in an ancient style. First century BCE/CE. Amaravathi village, Guntur district (Musee Guimet).
Didarganj Yakshi statue in the Bihar Museum.jpg
The Didarganj Yakshi depicting the dhoti wrap.

The pancha is worn by many orthodox Jain men when they visit the temple for puja; unstitched clothing is believed by some Jains to be "less permeable to pollution" and therefore more appropriate for religious rituals than other garments. [13] They also wear a loose, unstitched cloth, shorter than the pancha, on top.

Hare Krishna, known for its distinctive dress code, prompts Western adherents to wear pancha, usually of saffron or white cloth folded in a traditional style. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was known for wearing a white silk dhoti. [14]

In India, there's a distinction between the lungi, a similar but smaller garment often worn by people at their home as it is more casual and comfortable than dhoti, and the more formal dhoti that is sometimes worn by politicians. [15]

Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and fellow nationalist leaders can be seen wearing dhoti A news photo from 1939, showing Nehru, Gandhi, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (to the right, in the foreground, wearing the dhoti) in Bombay.jpg
Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and fellow nationalist leaders can be seen wearing dhoti

During the Indian independence movement, weaving and wearing dhoti was a symbol of Swadeshi movement. Mahatma Gandhi adopted dhoti as his identity to identify with rural poor of India in 1921 [16] [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

Draped garment Any item of clothing made from a length of cloth wrapped, folded, pinned, or tied around the body

A draped garment is a garment that is made of a single piece of cloth that is draped around the body; drapes are not cut away or stitched as in a tailored garment. Drapes can held to the body by means of knotting, pinning, fibulae, clasps, sashes, belts, tying drawstrings, or just plain friction and gravity alone. Many draped garments consist of only one single piece.

Loincloth Cloth worn around the loins, usually in warm climates

A loincloth is a one-piece garment, either wrapped around itself or kept in place by a belt. It covers the genitals and, at least partially, the buttocks. Loincloths which are held up by belts or strings are specifically known as breechcloth or breechclout. Often, the flaps hang down in front and back.

Sari Womans draped garment of Indian Subcontinent

A sari is a women's garment from the Indian subcontinent that consists of an unstitched drape varying from 4.5 to 9 metres in length and 600 to 1,200 millimetres in breadth that is typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, partly baring the midriff. It is traditionally worn in the countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. There are various styles of sari manufacture and draping, the most common being the Nivi style. The sari is worn with a fitted bodice commonly called a choli and a petticoat called ghagra, parkar, or ul-pavadai. It remains fashionable in the Indian Subcontinent today.

<i>Kurta</i> Various forms of loose and long shirts or tunics worn traditionally in South Asia

A kurta is a loose collarless shirt worn in many regions of South Asia, and now also worn around the world. Tracing its roots to Central Asian nomadic tunics, or upper body garments, of the late-ancient- or early-medieval era, the kurta has evolved stylistically over the centuries, especially in South Asia, as a garment for everyday wear as well as for formal occasions.

Sarong Traditional garment of the Malay Archipelago and the Pacific Islands

A sarong or sarung is a large tube or length of fabric, often wrapped around the waist, worn in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, Northern Africa, East Africa, West Africa, and on many Pacific islands. The fabric often has woven plaid or checkered patterns, or may be brightly colored by means of batik or ikat dyeing. Many modern sarongs have printed designs, often depicting animals or plants. Different types of sarongs are worn in different places in the world, notably the lungi in the Indian subcontinent and the izaar in the Arabian Peninsula.

Clothing in India is dependent upon the different ethnicity, geography, climate, and cultural traditions of the people of each region of India. Historically, male and female clothing has evolved from simple garments like kaupina, langota, achkan, lungi, sari, gamcha, and loincloths to cover the body into elaborate costumes not only used in daily wear, but also on festive occasions, as well as rituals and dance performances. In urban areas, western clothing is common and uniformly worn by people of all social levels. India also has a great diversity in terms of weaves, fibers, colours, and material of clothing. Sometimes, color codes are followed in clothing based on the religion and ritual concerned. The clothing in India also encompasses the wide variety of Indian embroidery, prints, handwork, embellishment, styles of wearing clothes. A wide mix of Indian traditional clothing and western styles can be seen in India.

Lungi Type of sarong in South Asia

The lungi is a type of sarong that originated in the Indian Subcontinent. The multicoloured lungi is a men's skirt usually tied around the lower waist below the navel. It is popular as casual wear and night wear in places, where the heat and humidity of the climate increase sweating, and make it unpleasant and uncomfortable to wear closed or tight clothes such as trousers.

Mundu Traditional draped garment for the lower body, worn in South Asia and the Maldives

The mundu is a garment worn around the waist in the Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, the Lakshadweep archipelago, and the Indian Ocean island nation of Maldives. It is closely related to sarongs like dhotis and lungis. It is normally woven in cotton and coloured white or cream. The colour is dependent on whether the cotton is bleached or unbleached. A khadaṟ muṇṭŭ is made using handlooms. When unbleached, the mundu is called nēriyatu. In modern times, two types of mundu are prevalent—the single and the double. A single mundu is wrapped only once around the waist, while the double one is folded in half before wearing. A mundu is usually starched before use.

Mundum neriyatum Traditional clothing

Mundum neriyatum is the traditional clothing of women in Kerala, a state in southwestern India. It is the oldest remnant of the ancient form of the sari which covered only the lower part of the body. In the mundum neriyatum, the most basic traditional piece is the mundu or lower garment which is the ancient form of the sari denoted in Malayalam as tuṇi, while the nēriyatu forms the upper garment the mundu. The mundum neriyatum consists of two pieces of cloth, and could be worn in either the traditional style with the nēriyatu tucked inside the blouse, or in the modern style with the nēriyatu worn over the left shoulder.

Uttariya Upper body garment of Vedic period

An uttariya is a loose piece of upper body clothing. It is a single piece of cloth that falls from the back of the neck to curl around both arms and could also drape the top half of the body. An Uttariya is similar to a veil, a long scarf and shawl.

<i>Sampot</i> Cambodian traditional dress

A sampot, a long, rectangular cloth worn around the lower body, is a traditional dress in Cambodia. It can be draped and folded in several different ways. The traditional dress is similar to the dhoti of Southern Asia. It is also worn in the neighboring countries of Laos and Thailand where it is known as pha nung.

Khmer traditional clothing

Khmer traditional clothing refers to the traditional styles of dress worn by the Khmer people from ancient times to the present.

Sompot Chong Kben Wrapped and draped pants of Southeast Asia

Sompot Chong Kben is a unisex, lower body, wraparound cloth worn in the countries of Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. It was the preferred choice of clothing for women of upper and middle classes for daily wear. Unlike the typical sompot, it is more of a pant than a skirt. The chong kraben is described by art historian Eksuda Singhalampong as "...a garment that resembles loose breeches. The wearer wraps a rectangular piece of cloth around his [or her] waist, the edge of cloth is then passed between the legs and tucked in at the wearer's lower back. Many 19th-century European accounts often called them knee breeches, riding breeches or knickerbockers."

Wrap (clothing)

In the context of clothing, a wrap can refer to a shawl or stole or other fabric wrapped about the upper body, or a simple skirt-type garment made by wrapping a piece of material round the lower body. Many people of all genders throughout the world wear wraps in everyday life, although in the West they are largely worn by women. They are sometimes sewn at the edges to form a tube which keeps the required size. A wrap may be secured by a corner being tucked beneath the wrapped material, by making a knot, or using ties, buttons or velcro.

Punjabi Tamba and Kurta Type of sarong and shirt, traditional costume in Punjab

Punjabi Kurta and Tamba are traditional costume for men of Punjab.

Punjabi clothing Clothing style associated with people of the Punjab region

In the ancient Punjab region, people wore cotton clothing. The tops lied till knees for both the genders. A scarf was worn over the tops which would be draped over the left shoulder and under the right. A large sheet would be further draped over one shoulder which would hang loose towards the knees. Both sexes wore a dhoti around the waist. Modern Punjabi dress has retained this outfit but over its long history has added other forms of dress.

Sindhi clothing Clothing style of Sindh province

Sindhi women wear the Ghagra Choli or the sari and the men wear the shalwar kameez or the kurta with pyjamma. However, before the adoption of the Shalwar kameez, the sari and the kurta, Sindhi's had their own traditional costumes.

History of clothing in the Indian subcontinent Aspect of history

History of clothing in the Indian subcontinent can be traced to the Indus Valley Civilization or earlier. Indians have mainly worn clothing made up of locally grown cotton. India was one of the first places where cotton was cultivated and used even as early as 2500 BCE during the Harappan era. The remnants of the ancient Indian clothing can be found in the figurines discovered from the sites near the Indus Valley Civilisation, the rock-cut sculptures, the cave paintings, and human art forms found in temples and monuments. These scriptures view the figures of human wearing clothes which can be wrapped around the body. Taking the instances of the sari to that of turban and the dhoti, the traditional Indian wears were mostly tied around the body in various ways.

Angvastra Shoulder cloth

An angvastra is a shoulder cloth or stole worn by men in India, especially in Maharashtra and South India. It is a single, rectangular piece of fabric and may have decorated borders. An angvastra may be worn with a dhoti and kurta. An angvastra may be offered as a mark of respect to guests, elders and gurus.

Veshti Cloth wrap for the lower body

A veshti is a white unstitched cloth wrap for the lower body in Tamil Nadu. Veshti is a part of the traditional attire consisting of Kurta and Angvastra. The garment is a single piece of cloth and similar to the dhoti, one of the earliest draped garments of India. A veshti is often layered with horizontal stripes or borders across its length.


  1. "What is Veshti". Rhythm Dhotis. 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Company, Fideler (1960). Life in Other Lands. Fideler. p. 78. Retrieved 3 January 2021. It is arranged to look like a pair of baggy trousers. This garment is called a dhoti and is usually made of cotton.
  3. Bhandari, Vandana (2005). Costume, Textiles and Jewellery [i.e. Jewelry] of India: Traditions in Rajasthan. Mercury Books. p. 105. ISBN   9781904668893 . Retrieved 3 January 2021. One of the reasons for the dhoti's enduring popularity is its loose trouser - like form , which is convenient and extremely well - suited to the tropical Indian climate .
  4. K Parker, Lewis (1994). India. Rourke Book Company. p. 14. ISBN   9781559160056 . Retrieved 3 January 2021. Boys and men often wear a dhoti. This is a piece of white cloth wound around the waist. Dhotis look like comfortable, baggy pants.
  5. "Indian Dhoti". Indian Mirror. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  6. Avasthi, Vivek (14 January 2020). "Sarees for women, dhoti for men: Officer's dress code for Kashi temple irks minister". The Federal. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  7. Henry, Baden Powell (1872). Hand-book of the Economic Products of the Punjab (etc.): Forming ... to the hand-book of the economic products of the Punjab. Engineering College Press. pp. 65, 67.
  8. Birdwood, George Christopher Molesworth (1884). The Industrial Arts of India. Chapman and Hall. p. 363.
  9. "Sanskrit - Asien.net".
  10. 1 2 Govind Sadashiv Ghurye (1951) Indian Costume
  11. Indian Costume by Govind Sadashiv Ghurye 1966
  12. Ancient Indian Costume By Roshen Alkazi 1996
  13. Cort, John E. (2001). Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India. Oxford University Press. p. 221. doi:10.1093/0195132343.001.0001. ISBN   9780195132342.
  14. Koppel, Lily (February 6, 2008). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Guide On the Beatles' Spiritual Path, Dies". New York Times. p. C.10.
  15. McLain, Sean (2014-07-23). "No Dhotis Please, We're Indian". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  16. Sankaralingam, Sathrukkan (2020-09-02). "Gandhi - Weaving a nation together". Minister White Blog. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  17. "What made Gandhiji wear only Loincloth or Dhoti". pib.gov.in. Retrieved 2021-10-07.