Uttarakhand is a very rustic state as far as its terrain and culture goes, which reflects on its clothing trends as well. Barring a few cities and towns, the rest of Uttarakhand is predominantly hilly with harsh winters and a healthy monsoon season. So do not be surprised if you find people here dressed for these extreme conditions and not following ‘fancy-frilly’ fashion.
There are some clothing accessories which are common throughout the state and are usually the ones which help the people living in the hills fight off the harsh winter. Jackets (sleeveless and full-sleeves), shawls and headscarves are popular clothing items which are unique to this state.
Women’s clothes in Kumaon and Garhwal
Women of Uttarakhand, particularly those in the remote hilly reasons, wear Ghagra which is a skirt-shirt combo. A long petticoat-like skirt is accompanied by an Angra (a full-sleeved shirt) which is keeps them warm in the chilly hilly winter. They complete this look with an Orhni (a dupatta). Kumaoni women wear a special red dupatta with silver or golden gota (lace) on the borders, which is called Pichhora or pichhauda. The Ghagra-Pichhora dress is one which is gradually getting phased out.
Women in the Pithoragarh part of Uttarakhand usually wrap the saree around as a sarong, complete with pleats just a like a normal saree. It is just that the pallu, which normal goes over the left shoulder, is again wrapped around the waist so that the decorated part comes in front. This way, the pallu of the saree doesn’t interfere with their day-to-day work as pahadi women are known to be very hard working. They wrap a shawl around their waist in a way that resembles a waistband. On top of it, they usually wear a blouse on top of a full sleeved sweater, so that they are fully equipped for the cold weather conditions.
Urban clothing in lower Garhwal
However, the dressing styles of people of urban parts of Uttarakhand (lower Garhwal region) differs vastly from that of people living in the hills. Latest Indian and western outfits are quite popular among the youth of cities like Dehradun, Mussoorie and Rishikesh. In Dehradun, Haridwar and Rishikesh, women feel quite comfortable in saree-blouse as well as salwar-kurta and winter wear takes a leaf from usually whatever is in fashion in the country.
Women in rural areas usually cover their head with a scarf which is tied at the back the their heads itself, which is called the Dhantu. This is usually made of wool as it helps in protecting them during the cold weather conditions.
Bhotiya is a small community of people living in Uttarakhand who have roots in Tibet. The dress of Bhotiyas is different, as women wear Chuba (a long gown with a silk shirt inside it).
Men keep it simple
Men dress up quite modestly in simple attire of kurta and pajama, which is a combination of a long shirt and trousers which are tight from knee down. This is teamed up with a warm jacket and a typical pahadi headgear. A woollen shawl provides extra protection during winters. Men are increasingly taking to western trousers and shirts in lower parts of the Garhwarl region, but the traditional woollen kurta-pajama is still popular in the hilly areas.
Accessories and jewellery
A typical Indian woman is quite fond of jewellery and Uttarakhand’s ladies are no different. Most of the jewellery items are same throughout the country, it is just that the name differs from region to region.
There is usually one piece of accessory which defines an Indian state, and in case of Uttarakhand, it is the oversized nose ring called the Nath. It is usually worn by married women; women in rural hilly regions wear it daily while ladies in urban areas put it on weddings or other festivals as it is not practical to wear it every day. The Nath, which covers a sizeable part of the cheek, is worn in the left nostril and is made from gold or silver.
Another common accessory among married women of Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand is the black beaded necklace called Chareu. Another type of neck piece, called Hansuli, is very popular and looks extremely elegant with not only ethnic wear but also with western outfit.
Nose studs called Keels and silver toe rings called Bichchua are also some common accessories which women wear. Though in old times women used to wear a lot of jewellery everyday – almost every piece of jewellery they owned – because it was safer than keeping it at home. However, now times have changed and the younger generation has embraced practicality, thus wearing just a couple of jewellery items.