Costumes Of Maharashtra

Maharashtra is the Marathi speaking region of India , which lies to the south of Gujrat. The state covers a large area ,and has diversity in the way of living. More than 85% people follow the Hindu Religion. therefore the basic costume of Maharashtra is similar to the costumes of Hindus in other states. The traditional Men's costume is 'SADARA' as an upper garment and 'DHOTI' as the lower garment. The traditional costume for women is a 'NINE YARD SARI' called 'LUGADE' ,wrapped around the body in a very typical way, which is a speciality of Maharashtra and not seen in northern states. This LUGADE is worn with a short length bodice called 'POLKA/CHOLI', made or sewn in a characteristic style.

The costumes differ in style according to the different communities living in the state. The main communities can be listed as follows,as far as the costumes are concerned.

1. Brahmin
2. Maratha - Elite class farmers.
3. Farmers - Middle class and lower class.
4. Fishermen/Koli.
5. Different Nomads.

  • Men's Costume in Maharashtra
  • 1. Brahmin Men

    1. BARABANDI- this is a traditional upper garment for brahmin men. It is a overlapping white cotton shirt which has 6 pairs of strings in front on one side ,for fastening. It is a loose garment fastened with the strings in front. Generally fine cotton like mul-mul, cambric is used to make this garment, and the colour is always white. Due to the British influence in British era a western style coat is worn over the Barabandi by many men.
    Barabandi was a popular garment in earlier times. Nowadays it is only seen when worn for some historical plays or theatre arts.
    A modern Brahmin man prefers to wear a Sadara or Zabba , which is a loose, long length shirt in cotton or silk and is worn on traditional occasions. Today his day to day attire is Shirt / T- Shirt , and Trouser of western type.

    2. DHOTAR - Dhotar is a unstitched lower garment of Maharashtrian men. It is a cloth which is 50'' in width and 5 mts. long. this is wrapped around the waist in a characteristic style. The cloth is taken around the waist and tied with a knot. The pleats are made then, for a particular length and tucked in. The bottom side of the pleats is spread out and the central point of the pleated fabric is pulled backwards between the legs and tucked at the back waist. The way of tying the Dhotar gives immense freedom of movement and comfort. Dhotar is always white in colour made from cotton mul-mul fabric. It may have a small decorative woven border.
    While performing religious rituals , Brahmin man has to wear a 'Sovale' . Sovale is similar to Dhotar but made in fine pure silk. It is available in pink , yellow, purple, orange, maroon colours.

    3. Pagdi - This is a traditional headgear for Brahmins. It is a decoratively stitched headgear in silken fabrics. It comes in red or dark red colours. A gold or silver brooch studded with precious stones can be tucked on the pagdi. In the historical city 'Pune ' a ' Puneri Pagdi ' used to be a characteristic head gear worn by all brahmin men.

    4. Uparne - This is a type of scarf worn over the shoulder . It is either silk or cotton woven with traditional small border designs along the sides.

    Maratha Men - Elite class

    This is the community which follows the agriculture profession. This community played a prominent role in the political history of the state and country. The costumes are similar to the Brahmins with a little difference.

    1. Sadara - This is a half sleeve or full sleeve Shirt which is knee length long.It has a short opening in the front with button fastners. It has a collar or sometimes stitched without a collar. Generally made in pastel shades or pure white, in soft cotton or silk materials. 'Khadi' - a hand spun and hand woven cotton fabric is often used to make Sadara.

    2. Dhotar - This is the lower garment same as described earlier. It has small coloured or figured borders running in length . ' Karvatkathi, Ruiphuli, Bajiraodhotarjodi, are the different distinct types of Dhotar.

    3. Angarkha - It is a coatlike overgarment to be worn over the Kurta or Sadara . Royal families had the practise of wearing beautifully designed Angarkhas as a coat.

    4. Pheta , Patka - These are the freshly folded Turbans or headgear worn by Marathas. These are folded over the head with the help of a piece of cloth measuring about a foot in width and 15-20 feet in length. One end of this stands erect made like a feather on the head and the other end is sometimes left over the shoulder at the back.

    Pagote or Pagadi , made of a twisted ropelike fabric is used by some Marathas and Mali community. The method of folding these headgears varies from community to community.

    Gandhi topi, a cap made up of Khadi material is also widely used.

    Koli men's clothing

    1. Bandi- The upper garment for fisherman is a sleeveless jacket called 'Bandi' which is thick and

    2. Topi- A small scarf is tied on the head as a headgear called 'Tambadi topi' or Rumal .

    3. Lungi - The lower dress of the Koli men consists of a square piece of cloth with checked pattern in bright colours. It is draped in such a manner that the hind tucking covers the buttocks and in front a loose triangular flap hangs down from the waist, the diagonal sides of which cover the midthighs.

    Other Nomadic Tribes

    These include the Tribes like Dhangar, Pardhi, Warli, Gondia,Thakar, Bhill, Katkari and many more. The clothing pattern of the tribal men living in rural and remote areas include 'Dhotar' as the lower garment, and Sadara or Bandi as an upper garment. Pheta , Patka, Mundase, Topi are the headgears used.

  • Women's Clothing in Maharashtra
  • 1. Traditional way

    The traditional way the women dress here is in the Sari same as the rest of India. But Maharashtrian women wears a distinct type of sari which is nine yards in length. The method of wearing the same varies from community to community.

    2. Brahmin Women's Clothing

    1. Nauvari/ 9 Yard Sari - This is the characteristic traditional attire of women in Maharashtra. The sari is an unstitched garment, 9 to 11 yards in length, and the width being 50-52 ''. It is called 'Nauvari ' or 'Lugade' .The sari has beautiful lengthwise borders in different pattern and colour running on both sides of the plain, small checkered, or coloured background. Also the last 1 yard of the sari, the part which hangson the body from the shoulders, is decorated horizontally in coloured motifs and patterns matching the border . This part is called 'Padar' or 'Pallu'.
    The sari is worn in a characteristic way, wherein the pleats from front are taken in between the legs towards the back and tucked at the back waist. The Padar covers the front bodice completely to give a modest and rich look.The style gives its wearer, the freedom of movement. The Padar hangs at the back from the shoulder. It is not compulsory in Brahmins to cover the head with Padar. For Brahmin widows in early 19 th century it was mandatory to cover the head with the Padar completely.

    2. Choli - This is a bodice similar to those seen elsewhere in India. The length of the bodice is such that it leaves much of the upper abdomen bare. the Padar of the sari however provides complete concealment. The Bodice is a short sleeved blouse, which has buttons or hooks in front.In earlier times, the front of the bodice had ties, and a knot used to be tied in front to keep the bodice in place. The traditional fabric used to make the bodice is known as ' Khann', which is an extra warp figured fabric, having silk like appearance and woven with small attractive motifs.
    In modern times Brahmin ladies wear a 6 yard sari which is worn in round fashion, and not tucked at the back. Sari is a popular dressing style among women in Maharashtra till date.

    3. Shela - This is a decorative scarf like fabric thrown around the shoulders over the sari.This was more in fashion among the ladies from royal families in earlier times. Today it is only used by the Bride in marriage ceremony. The traditional Shela is a highly decorative fabric having intricate designs woven for body and borders.

    3. Maratha women

    The attire of Maratha women is almost same as that of the Brahmin women.That is a'Nauvari' , Choli and Shela. The way the Nauvari is worn is a little different. It is worn in such a way that the calf of the legs is not left bare at all. The Padar is invariably taken over the head and is tucked in front at the waist, or held in the hand in front covering the head completely.

    4. Koli Women/ Fisherwomen-

    A 9 yard sari is worn again by a Koli women. But the style of wearing varies a little. Thesari is firmly tucked around the waist with proper pleating and its height is worn just till the knee.The sari is tucked till the end of its length, and is not left loose to cover the upper body. This style of wearing allows a great comfort of movement, just like wearing a trouser.
    The upper garment is a long length blouse covering the body till the waist or a little shorter sometimes, called 'Kacholi' . This is knotted in front to get the right fitting. Over the Kacholi, an'Odhani' or 1.5 mts. long cloth is draped in a very distinct style, to cover the front properly.
    Saris are either plain or printed. Koli womens attire is always very bright and vibrant in colour combination , having bold and colourful prints on the fabrics used.

    5.Other Nomadic tribes

    Women in these communities also wear similar clothing as explained earlier. A 'Nauvari ' and a 'Kacholi ' is worn by all. The type of Sari and Blouse material differs from place to place depending upon local production of handloom fabrics.

  • Children's Clothing in Maharashtra
  • There used to be a very distinct style of clothing traditionally in Maharashtra. Thegirls below the age of 12 years used to wear 'Parkar Polka', which is a skirt and blouse dress. Skirt being long till the feet andthe short blouse worn by girls would leave a small portion of the abdomen bare. The fabric used for this dress was always a 'Khann' fabric , a speciality of Maharashtra.
    The boys wore a front buttoned shirt called 'sadara'and a 'vijar' that is a long loose pant , or wore a short pant too sometimes. A white cap was used as a headgear. A sleeveless jacket was worn for special ocassions.