‘Himachal Pradesh’ was named by a great Sanskrit scholar Acharya Diwakar Datt Sharma. Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful state of India situated in the northern part of the Asian subcontinent. This amazing state consists of various communities, religions, and ethics. Everyone lives in peace and harmony enjoying diverse traditions and cultures throughout the region.
Apart from all the diversities in Himachal Pradesh, the Himachalis have specific attire that differentiates them from other communities. These communities include Rajputs, Hindu Brahmins, and some other tribes such as Gaddis, Kinnauris, Lahulis, Kullvi, spitians, The traditional dresses of Himachal Pradesh are full of vibrant colors and are mostly handwoven. The costumes and dressing styles of various regions represent their culture and traditional values. Also, the dresses are made according to the cold weather conditions of these regions to keep the people warm and safe. The costumes are beautiful and full of colors. Caps, shawls, woolen coats, waistcoats, stoles are most commonly used by the people of Himachal Pradesh.
Traditional Dresses of Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is one of the eminent states of India with miscellaneous and traditional dressing styles. The traditional dresses of Himachal Pradesh are different for different tribes and vary among both men and women as well. the dresses are made keeping in mind the harsh cold weather during winters that linger almost throughout the year. The women usually wear salwar kameez, Ghagras, and Lehenga Cholis. The costumes of women include colorful headscarves that are long enough and are knotted from the back. Women also adorn themselves with lots of bangles, and different types of traditional ornaments.
Let’s go through the different types of Traditional Dresses in Himachal Pradesh
- Kinnaur Dress
- Shimla Dress
- Chamba Dress
- Sirmaur Dress
- Lahauli’s Dress and Siptian’s Dress
Kinnaur Traditional Dress
Kinnaur lies in the northeast part of Himachal Pradesh and is surrounded by Tibet to the east. Kinnaur is an extremely beautiful district with three high mountains ranges hence it has the beautiful valleys of the Himalayas. Some of the famous and delicious fruits like apples, Chilgozas, and various other dry fruits are grown in Kinnaur.
The climate here is mostly cold and snowy that is the reason the people in this district prefer and wear woolen dresses. The costumes of men and women are made as per the climatic conditions and are equally beautiful with vibrant colors.
Men usually wear warm woolen shirts that are locally called ‘chamn Kurti’. There is another type of dress that men wear called ‘Chhuba’ which is a long woolen coat. A sleeveless woolen jacket worn over the ‘chhuba’, a churidar pajama called ‘Suthan’, and a woolen cap ‘Kinnauri topi’ completes the costume of men.
Women cover themselves with beautiful and colorful woolen shawl locally termed as ‘Dohru’. The ‘Dohru’ is a long shawl with embroidered borders throughout the length and flows up to the heels.
The first wrap is over the back and then on the shoulders. Beautiful cholis or blouses are worn with the shawl. Some of the young Kinnaurs prefer wearing cotton/synthetic salwar kameez as well nowadays.
The Kinnaurs used to wear traditional footwear made up of wool and goat hair however now they wear readymade shoes.
The women also adorn themselves with heavy jewelry which compliments the look and makes them look prettier.
Shimla Traditional Dress
Shimla is the largest city of the Indian states and is the capital of Himachal Pradesh. This amazingly beautiful city is the queen of hills in India and is located 7500ft above sea level. Enriched with mesmerizing scenic beauty, Shimla is one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in India.
Like other Himachali districts, Shimla has a unique culture and traditions of various aspects of life including the dressing style that makes them different from various other tribes.
The basic traditional dress of Shimla is usually woolen cloth due to the cold climatic conditions that include salwar kameez and kurta pajamas with a waistcoat in different patter from other tribes and with different names.
Men of Shimla usually wear warm knee-length kurta and pair it with pajama locally termed as ‘Suthan’. The woolen kurta is then layered with a jacket or waistcoat as a prevention from the cold weather. This waistcoat is locally called ‘Saluka’ or ‘Sadri. Just like other tribes of Himachal Pradesh, the men cover their heads with a round colorful woolen cap.
The women of Shimla wear a 5 set of costumes known as ‘Reshta’. This traditional outfit includes a high neck Kurti, a pajama, a skirt, a waistcoat, and a rectangular headscarf. The waistcoat is called a ‘saluka’. They cover their head with a square headscarf call ‘Dhatu’. To make the outfit look more beautiful, the women wear heavy jhumkas.
Chamba Traditional Dress
Chamba is located in the northwestern district of Himachal Pradesh. This region has a vibrant culture that includes various traditions, beliefs, arts, and is rich in traditional costumes.
The Chamba district is usually known for its Gaddi tribe, which is an ancient cultural tribe of Himachal Pradesh. Earlier, men of the Chamba district used to wear woolen chaddars called ‘Pattu’ around their waist which is tied with using ‘patka’, and the women used to wear full-length woolen dresses. The Gaddi men, however, wore very loosely fir woolen dress locally called as ‘Chola’ that used to be white and they used girdle with a long black woolen rope locally termed as ‘Dora’.
With time, the people of Chamba have been evolved and their dressing changed a lot. Nowadays, the traditional costumes of men are the knee-length ‘Chola’ that is a long woolen coat. It is then tied with a rope called ‘Dora’. the bottom outfit is a woolen pajama termed as ‘Suthan’. The men cover their heads wearing a unique traditional ‘topi’.
The costumes of women are beautiful vibrant frocks called Luanchari, which is made using around 20meters of fabric. The frocks are stitched beautifully and adorned with lots of frills and pippins in them. The costume also includes ‘Dora’ which is worn around the waist and used to tie the Lauanchari.
The ‘Dora’ is around 45 meters long black-colored woolen cord used by the women. They cover their head using beautifully decorated dupattas which adds to their beauty and gives the whole outfit a traditional look.
Women in Chamba carry various types of traditional ornaments that come with beautiful designs.
Some of the different types of jewelry worn by Chamba women are:
- Chak: This is specifically used by Gaddi women and it’s a symbol of married women. It is worn at the back of the head and is conical in shape. Different types of chak are chak-boron wala which includes lots of hanging beads at the edges with silver chains and chak-Meena with Meena work done beautifully.
- Chiri Tikka: Chiri is a mang tikka worn by Chamba women over the forhead.
- Shangli: A long chain that is used to wear around the head.
- Pari: Kinnaur Traditional Dress Pari is an anklet locally known as Payal worn on feet.
- Shirka-chamkui: Gujjar women wear the Shirka-chamkui on both sides of the head.
- Chanderhar: a very long necklace.
- Gojru: Gojru are the ornamnets worn in hands.
Sirmaur Traditional Dress
Sirmaur is the southernmost district of Himachal Pradesh and is situated in the outer Himalayas known as the Shivalik range. Apart from the famous landscapes and temples, the Sirmaur district is fascinatingly amazing with various religious and cultural traditions. The traditional dressing style of Sirmaur is quite simple minimal. Most of the population of Sirmaur lives in villages and they hold the deep routed traditional culture and beliefs.
Women of Sirmaur usually wear salwar kameez. During winters, they wear woolen sweaters or pullovers. They also carry woolen shawls. To protect themselves from the chilly winds during winters, they cover their head with a square piece of headscarf called ‘Dhatu’.
Men of this district wear ‘Lohiya’ a long woolen coat and pair it up with a pajama. they wear a round cap/ ‘topi’ similar to ‘Kinnauri topi’.
Lahauli and Siptian Traditional Dress
Two previously separated districts of Lahaul and Spiti make the Lahaul and Spiti district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Earlier, both the districts were merged. The Lahaul and Spiti district is located at the very high altitudes of Himachal Pradesh due to which, the districts are the coldest region of the Himalayas and have snow-covered mountains for almost six months of the year. The districts are enriched with different traditions and cultures and have unique dressing styles as well. woolen clothes are preferred due to the cold weather.
Lahaul Traditional Dressings: Men usually wear dark-colored woolen trousers with full- sleeves shirts known as ‘Kurti’. They also wear a very long and loosely fitted gown over the Kurti, locally termed as ‘Kattar’ which is mostly in the color black, white, or grey. A ‘Lahauli topi’ is worn to give the costume a complete look.
Women wear a long gown known as ‘Dugpo’ with fitted pajamas. The ‘Dugpo’ is tied at the waist using a sash. The Lahauli women also wear a round cap like men which is a traditional ‘Lahauli topi’ and is usually in similar colors with not much design on it.
Siptians Traditional Dressings: The costumes of Lahualis and Spitians are completely different from each other. The dresses of Spitians are made up of various materials and are named accordingly. The dresses of spitians are usually long loosely fit frocks or overcoats. If the frock is woolen it is locally named ‘Righoay’. If it is made up of goat or sheep fur it is named ‘Charlak’ and if made up of the skin of goat or sheep, it is named ‘Thakpa’. The frock/coat is paired up with tight warm pajama known as ‘Suthan’. To prevent form cold climate, the back and abdomen are tied with a ‘sash’ which is known as ‘Kira’. Sometimes, a silk or cotton frock is worn under the coat as well.
Women’s clothing has got similar names as men’s. The spitian women wear a ‘Tochay’ which is loose cotton made frock, and ‘Righoy’ a long woolen frock. The costume of spitians also includes a long full sleeves shirt with no collar and buttons called ‘Hoojuk’ and it is used to wear underneath the frock or coat.
The vibrant colored costumes of Spitians are paired with red or black pants and embroidered stoles locally named ‘Lingches’. Lingches are used to cover the back and neck and shoulders during winters. Finally, the layering is done by a ‘Lokpa’ which is a cape. A round cap with a green-colored band is used by both men and women. Dikra, Gau, Perak, Konta, Pichoon, and numerous other ornaments are worn by both men and women that make their attire unique and different from other regions.
Traditional Dresses of Various Other Districts of Himachal Pradesh
There are some other districts in the lower part of Himachal Pradesh that are equally famous for their culture and traditions. These districts are Hamirpur, Mandi, Solan, Kangra, Una, etc. the beautiful colorful dress of these districts is mostly very popular. The costume includes a long Kurta or shirt with a long ankle-length pleated skirt known as ‘Ghagri’. The Ghagri is usually red and the women wear this outfit during special occasions like weddings. A beautiful dupatta is carried over the head by women to complete the look. The women also wear traditional jewelry like Maang Tika, a huge nose ring called ‘nath’ to beautify themselves.
The men usually wear pleated kurta which resembles a frock and pair it with ‘Suthan’ that is the pajama.
In regular practice nowadays, women chose to wear simple salwar kameez and use dupatta to cover their heads. And men usually wear kurta pajama and topi.
The districts of Himachal Pradesh are not yet influenced by the western culture completely as people truly follow their traditions and are deeply connected to the roots of Himachal Pradesh culture. However, some of the young generations have started following western dressing styles. Young men have started to wear shirts and jeans and young females go with skirts and tops. The traditional dresses are worn specifically during auspicious occasions and ceremonies. However, the true culture and creativity are found only in the traditional outfits of Himachal Pradesh.