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Home > Costume Categories > Costumes For Men > Dhotis

DhotisThe dhoti is a style of Indian men`s wear. A rectangular piece of cloth, it is wrapped in a complex manner about the waist and legs and is usually white or cream in color, though black and darker hues are often used to create more vivid ensembles. There are more than 60 different ways of wearing it. In northern India, it is worn with a Kurta on top, the combination known simply as "Dhoti Kurta". The dhoti is associated by many with Mahatma Gandhi, who invariably wore one on public occasions. The genteel Bengali man, stereotyped as a "Bengali Babu," is seen in popular culture as wearing expensive perfumes, a light kurta and his prized dhoti whilst feverishly discussing politics and literature.

The dhoti has status as formal wear in most of India, but is less and less popular among men in major metropolises. Nowadays, as opposed to recent decades, for the most part, men will be seen to be dressed in the former. In certain contexts (for many Indians those of a more `Westernised` nature) it may not even be viewed as suitable for formal wear due to the prevalence of the international suit and tie, particularly in corporate business. Thus, the dhoti for many has taken on a more cultural nuance while the ubiquitous `suit-and-tie` or, in less formal occasions, shirt and pants, is seen as the standard formal and semi-formal wear.

Dhotis are also used by westeners; mainly by followers of the International Society for Krishna Conciousness (ISKCON) and other adherents of Gaudiya Vaishnavism such as those of the Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mission. The Lungi is a similar piece of cloth worn in the same manner, though it is used only informally and never formally. It is also primarily worn by people of the lower classes and particularly popular in South India as well as Sri Lanka, Malaysia etc.

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