Hindi Language Blog

Apparel Posted by on Apr 7, 2017 in Hindi Language

Kurta-pyjama कुर्ता-पजामा, salwar kameez सलवार-कमीज़, churidar-kurta चूड़ीदार-कुर्ता, saari-blouse साड़ी-चोली (choli), lungi-dhoti लुंगी-धोती, … these are all the same right? Not quite.

Western vocabulary has limited terms for the nuanced apparel sported by the broad spectrum of Indian men and women. Most of the above-mentioned outfits would be described in English as tunic, blouse, tights, etc.

However articles of clothing in India not only vary by age, generation, and state or region, but you will find differences between urban and rural populations.

Men’s Clothing:

Modern wear: If you’re getting ready to go to work, or prepping for an interview, you want to look your spiffy best. Today’s modern generation wears trousers and shirts or पतलून-कमीज़.

Traditional wear: कुर्ता-पजामा consists of a longer tunic or कुर्ता. They can be simple and made of cotton, or more elaborate and made of silk, studded with stones, embroidered, etc.

A dhoti धोती (known as vaysh-tee in South India) is basically a long cloth worn to cover the lower half of the body. A धोती is traditional and formal and can be made of silk or cotton. In the olden days (think British Raj), officials wore dhotis as part of a “business suit” that comprised of a crisp cotton shirt and blazer or coat.

These days, a धोती is worn by people in warmer southern states, during weddings, or at home, in lieu of lounge wear, and by members of the older and younger generation alike.

You will also see dhotis worn by priests पुजारी in temples. A धोती is usually white सफ़ेद although some priests will wear saffron भगवा (bhug-waa) or red लाल (laal) dhotis.

Here is a picture collage of the different flavors of men’s clothing.

Image by Nevill Zaveri on Flickr.com

Lungi tied up.

Image by Koshy Koshy on Flickr.com

Ageing gracefully.

Image by Prince Roy on Flickr.com

Dressed in traditional dhoti at a wedding ceremony.

Image by Hari Prasad on Flickr.com

A group of young college students from South India.

Image by Wonderlane on Flickr.com
A market vendor
wearing a lungi.
Image by Ashley van Haeften on Flickr.com
A young man from the
era of pre-Independence

Image on Flickr.com by Donal Mountain

Traditional and festive kurta with embroidery.

Image by Nagarjun Kandukuri on Flickr.com

A young boy in cotton short kurta, pajama, and a cotton vest.

Image by Aviva West on Flickr.com

Mannequin displaying men’s kurta.

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About the Author: Nitya

Namaste, friends. My name is Nitya. I was born and raised in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). I'm a native Hindi speaker. However, as life took me through school, college, work, and waves of friends from different parts of India, my repertoire of Hindi flavors and dialects grew and added dimension to my native fluency. Casual, formal, colloquial, and regional ... Hindi is a language with incredible variety and localization. Through this blog, I will help you learn Hindi through conversations, vocabulary, colloquialisms, and glimpses of Indian culture. आओ, मिलकर हिंदी सीखते हैं। (Aao, milkar Hindi seekhte hain!) Come, let's learn Hindi together.


  1. A~:

    Talking about the different clothes worn for different occasions could be an interesting post! Wedding, temple/mosque, shopping, job interview, typical workday, housewear…