The beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh nestled amidst the Great Himalayan ranges is rich in culture, tradition and away from the western glitterati. The culture of Himachal Pradesh is largely reflected in the people like diverse tribes, cuisine, occupations, and their traditional dressing. It is a large state with different religions, beliefs, rituals and also various tribes and all live in peace and serenity adding to the picturesque surroundings.
The traditional dress of the Himachali people also reflects their culture. They like their ethnic dressing and dress in traditional costumes as they safeguard and honour their diversity. The natives are known as Pahari people. Partly the dressing also makes even the climatic conditions of the harsh winters which is another reason to influence the traditional attire of Himachal Pradesh. It includes a headgear, tops, trousers, and even the footwear are mostly woven by hand. The vibrant and colorful handloom fabric is now the culture identity of the state.
Traditional Dress for Men in Himachal Pradesh
The Himachali people are widely divided into two ancient classes – Brahmins and Rajputs. Only a local or traditional people can spot the difference at once as there is very little difference in the way they dress as they are almost identical.
Men wear a long Kurta over Chudidar Pyjamas that hold the ankles tight. They drape a lengthy silky overcoat over it. As Yak is very common in the region even the clothing is made from Yak leather. So, these overcoats are designed by golden threads and embroidery over yak leather. It helps to keep them warm in the harsh weather. They cover their heads with a turban which is a long cloth tied over the head. These are vibrant and colorful and generally starched to keep it stiff. Rajput men wear their turbans and also grow their mustache long as a sign of pride.
Men wear long Kurta over a dhoti. They also wear a lengthy overcoat or waistcoat and tie a turban on their head to cover their head. The Brahmin priests wear mostly white colored dresses and also have a soft cloth like a towel over their shoulders. However, for special festivals or ceremonies, they wear new clothes including the Kurta, pajama, stiff caps, or turbans and wrap an exquisite shawl around themselves as part of dress.
Traditional Dress for Women in Himachal Pradesh
The women of the two major castes of Himachal Pradesh wear something similar and their dress is also identical. Hence, it is hardly differentiable except for a few variations. Traditionally a purdah system prevailed in the region but now that is no longer followed in the state.
The women wear long dresses from their neck to their feet. It is in the shape of a Kurta and they wear it over a skirt like dress or a loose salwar. They wear also Ghagris and Cholis called shirts or blouse. The other dresses they wear is the traditional Salwar – Kameez. They wear a lot of bangles to accessorize their dressing. They also wear a long cloth over their head to cover the head which knotted up to stay in place on the head. They wear footwear that is made from leather or Yak skin and also specific grass. It is said to protect feet from cold and keep the feet warm.
They also wear Ghagra and Cholis called shirts or blouse over a long loose skirt type trousers and the traditional Salwar – Kameez with a dupatta, meaning a long cloth to wear over the dress and head. They wear special materials for the special celebrations or festivals that have intricate work including embroidery on handwoven cloth. They also wear jewelery like bangles and rings on nose, fingers, toes, neck, etc.
Traditional Dress for Tribals in Himachal Pradesh
The state of Himachal Pradesh is spread across a large region and so many different tribes live here. It includes the top tourist destinations in India. regions such as Manali, Spiti Valley, Lahaul and Kinnaur. Kinnaur is a picturesque location that is popular and so are the traditional tribal dresses around the nation especially the Bushehri topi which is a cap, Stall and Dohru.
The tribal women can be seen decked up in bulky silver jewelery and ornaments even on dress and mostly this is a casual attire for them. They wear bright and shiny dresses and ornaments to functions and various events or gatherings. The tribes of Lahaul – Spiti also dress in a similar way – heavy ornaments with bold colors. They also cover the head with an attractive big cloth called ‘Thipu’ / Patoo’ or Dhatu.
The tribal men can be seen wearing Chola meaning a shirt type of top for the upper part of the body over a Sultan as trousers. They tie it up with a fat belt called ‘Dora’ . These belts are made with special handwoven and are various sizes and made attractive. These handwoven handlooms are popular all over the state and even the country.
The tribals ethnic costumes are similar to the Rajputs & Brahmins of Himachal Pradesh. Some of the famous tribes of Himachal Pradesh include the Pangawalas, Kinnaurs, Gaddis, and Gujjars among many others.
Traditional Jewelery of Himachal Pradesh
Ornaments and jewelry is part of the dressing of the Himachali people especially women and are worn by all Himachali women including the tribals, Rajputs, and Brahmins.
Here are the most famous ornaments of women of Himachal Pradesh:
- Chaakk – A Silver ornament that they wear on the top of their head.
- Chiiri – This is a piece of jewelery that is similar to maangtika.
- Jhumka – A type of earrings that is popular jewelery across the state.
- Chanderhar – A type of necklace or a pendant that is put on for special occasions.
- Toke – A Band that is worn around the wrist that is never or very rarely removed.
- Pari – An accessory that is worn around the foot ankle like a small foot necklace.
Other Traditional Clothing Items of Himachal Pradesh
It is cultural to wear a specific turban / cap for men and a shawl / cloth for women over their head for the people in Himachal Pradesh. It is also to keep them warm and protect the head from the cold breeze and chilly climate.
Here are the two main clothing accesories of Himachal Pradesh.
1. Pashmina Shawl – This particular shawl is availabel in many parts of North India including Himachal Pradesh. It is made from the goat hair of Pashmina goat and are very expensive shawls that are in great demand. People buy them as exquisite items especially for special occassions to cover from cold winter nights.
There is intricate embroidary that makes them even more attractive and it makes it even more expensive due to thisi work. Sometimes, very soft exquisite silk is mixed to this for a smoother, soft, and shiny finish. Due to its make it is on the higher price side.
2. Caps / Topis / Shaws of Kullu – This is one of the msot attractive caps found in Kullu regions of Himachal Pradesh. They are the authentic traditional caps and now they are also sold to several destinations and tourists. They are somewhat circular in shape, thick or stiff, and is designed to look attractive especially on the front of the cap. They are made from various materials such as woolen for winters and cottons for summers. The velvet material caps are worn for special occassions. They are called Kullu topi and found in the region near River Beas called Kullu.
You can also find shawls and woolens that are made in various colors and designs such as animal or plant designs that are woven on to a lighter base shade that is generally grey, white, off – white or pale yellow. These shawls are made from fur of different animals – lamb, yak, or pashmina and Angora fibers. The costs differ as per the specific wool availability.
Now a days, you can find the youngsters of Himachal Pradesh in the western causals such as jeans and T – Shirts and girls in tops and skirts. They wear ethnic dressing especially during festivals, ceremonies, gatherings and special occassions. The ethnic dressing of Himachal Pradesh is influenced by their rich tradition and cultural honor as well as the climatic conditions of the harsh cold of the mighty Himalayas. Mroeover, the handwoven garments and handlooms are also a major business among the Himachali people and they also export some to various parts of the world.