The dhoti is the most traditional of all dresses for men in India. If you ever see photographs of Indian men before, during and soon-after the independence era, you will find many of them wearing the dhoti dress teemed with a kurta. Earlier the dhoti used to be a casual daily wear of the Indian men. But with modernization of our society, it steadily relegated to being just formal clothing in India, though there are still people especially in the rural belts for whom dhoti is the regular clothing attire.
The dhoti is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth about five yards
long, wrapped about the waist and the legs and knotted at the waist. It
is known by different names like Laacha in Punjabi, Mundu in Malayalam,
Dhuti in Bangla, Veshti in Tamil, Pancha in Telugu, Dhotar in Marathi
and Panche in Kannada. In north India, the dhoti is worn in combination
with a kurta top, which a long loose fitting shirt. The dhoti kurta
dress is called dhuti panjabi in east India. This dhoti dress is
different from a lungi as the cloth of the latter is stitched to form a
The dhoti dress may have lost its popularity in modern day India, but
it is still worn with a lot of dignity by the many prominent senior
citizens, politicians, musicians, dancers and others. Apart from being
worn on all important government and family occasions, the dhoti kurta
is also allowed to be donned in post upscale clubs, which normally
stipulate very stern dress code for guests. The one prominent Indian
citizen who gets all credit for popularizing this attire beyond the
Indian borders is Mahatma Gandhi.
There are various styles of wearing the Indian dhoti. For instance, the
Bengali men usually make pleats in their dhoti. In south India, the
dhoti wearers added the angavastram to their attire, which is an extra
piece of unstitched cloth kept on the shoulders. For convenience
purpose, many south Indian men fold their dhoti in half and tuck it at
the waist so that it reaches only till the knees. In certain Indian
communities in Rajasthan, wearing the dhoti-kurta is mandatory.