Dhoti kurta is the most traditional of all dresses worn by the men in India. If you ever see photographs of Indians, before, during and soon-after the independence era, you will find most of them wearing either the dhoti kurta or kurta pajama. Earlier dhoti kurta used to be a casual daily wear of the Indian men. But with the modernization of our society, it steadily got relegated to just formal clothing. However, there are still people, especially in the rural belts, who wear the dhoti-kurta on a regular basis.
Dhoti is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth about five yards long, wrapped about the waist and legs and knotted at the waist. It is known by different names in different languages, like Mundu in Malayalam, Dhuti in Bangla, Veshti in Tamil, Pancha in Telugu, Dhotar in Marathi and Panche in Kannada. In North India, dhoti is worn in combination with a kurta top, which a long loose fitting shirt. The traditional wear of dhoti kurta is called Dhuti Panjabi in east India. This dress is different from a lungi, as in the latter, the cloth is stitched to form a circle.
Dhoti kurta may have lost its popularity in the modern day India, but it is still worn with a lot of dignity by the many prominent senior citizens, politicians, musicians, dancers and others. 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.
How to Wear/ Tie a Dhoti
There are various styles of wearing the Indian dhoti. For instance, Bengali men usually make pleats in their dhoti. In South India, the dhoti wearers add 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 communities of Rajasthan, wearing the dhoti-kurta is mandatory.