CALL IT PARADISE ON EARTH OR JAMMU AND KASHMIR
Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, clear, beautiful and pure….It’s Jammu and Kashmir!
It was rightly exclaimed by the famous Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, “ Agar Firdaus bar ru-e –zamin ast, Hami ast o-Hami ast o-Hami ast.” Meaning If there is heaven on earth It is here, It is here, It is here.”
Jammu and Kashmir is the jewelled crown of India with its extravagant beauty. It is the amalgamation of multifaceted, variegated and exceptional cultural blend, making it distinct from the rest of the country, not only from the different cultural forms and heritage, but from geographical, ethical and social entities, forming a unique spectrum of diversity and diversions.
Clothing in Jammu and Kashmir stands out from the rest of the Indian Sub-Continent due to the extreme weather conditions and the distinctive cultural backgrounds. Jammu and Kashmir was inhabited by Persians, Romans, Greeks and Aryan descendants in the past and the reflection of their cultural attributes can be seen in the current attires of Kashmiris.
Most of the costumes are made of cotton, silk and wool and are known for their exceptional embroideries. Poot and Pheran is the name of the traditional attire for Kashmiri men and women. It demonstrates plenty of embroideries, accompanied with ‘Kasaba’, their traditional headgear which is stitched in the form of a turban and chunky silver jewellery.
Costumes of Kashmiri Women
The Kashmiri women are considered extremely beautiful with the English rosiness on the cheeks and the Eastern tanned skin. The colour of their hair ranges from golden red to brunette and that of the eyes from green, blue, grey to brown.
Pheran is the prominent attire for Kashmiri women. Pheran usually has Zari embroidery on the hem line, around pockets and mostly around the collar area. Ladies prefer suit and Burkha during summers and Pheran is preferred during autumn.
For Hindu Women
The Hindu women of Kashmir wear their Pherans long, stretching up to their feet with narrow sleeves. Often, the Pherans are wrapped tightly around waist by a piece of creased cloth called Lungi. Though the Hindu women have started wearing sarees now but as per the culture of the Kashmir, they have to wear taranga on their wedding day.
The headdress of a Kashmiri woman is a brightly coloured scarf or Taranga which is stitched to a suspended cap with a cloth around it which extends down towards the heels. The Taranga is an integral part of the wedding attire among Hindus.
Earrings, anklets and bangles are widely used apart from the use of ornamentation in clothing. Dejharoos or golden pendants (the Kashmiri panditani’s mangal-sutra) are worn by the Hindu women. These Dejharoos comprise of two decorative gold pendants which are suspended through gold chains or silk threads. It is symbolic of a woman’s married status among the Kashmiri Pandits.
Pherans worn by the Muslim women are knee-length and are traditionally characterized by their broad sleeves, elaborate Zari embroideries or floral patterns around the neck and pockets, with Brocade patterns adorning their long sleeves. Pherans are tightly wrapped around the body with a piece of creased cloth called Lungi or Pashmina shawl.
They wear a head-gear that looks very distinctive from the taranga. Their head-gear is red in colour and tied around their forehead like a turban with trinkets and silver pins. The traditional head-gears are thick and made of fine wool to keep them warm in the extremities of weather conditions in Kashmir.
The red head-gear is known as the Kasaba. It is worn by the Muslim women as a part of their regular attire. Abaya is a robe-like dress which is also commonly worn by them.
The unmarried Muslim girls wear skullcaps decorated with embroidered gold threads. Their ornamentation includes trinkets, pendants and amulets.
The Kashmiri Muslim women are quite fond of wearing chunky silver jewellery like neckpieces, bracelets and heavily jewelled chains.
Kashmiri – Men Pheran
The typical dress of a Kashmiri men, both Hindu and Muslim, is Pheran, a long loose gown hanging down below the knees. The men wear a skullcap, a close-fitting shalwar (Muslims) or a churidar pyjama (Pandits).
The traditional Hindu male garment Pheran is plain and has narrow sleeves and a left side breast-open collar with a lapel or lace emerging from it.
Pheran is made in a way that it loosely fits around the body to make room Kangri. Kangri is an earthen vessel which is filled with flaming coal and is worn under Pheran to keep warm during extreme weather conditions. The Pathani Suit, also referred to as Khan-dress, is popular among the Muslim men, especially in Srinagar.
Turbans for Muslim Men
Turbans are common amongst Muslim men. Skull caps are prevalent, especially among the peasants and the Karakuli. Fur skull caps with Pashmina shawls worn by men often symbolize royal lineage. The Muslim men wear lace-free shoes known as Gurgabis.
Headgear for Hindu Male
Turban is the traditional headgear of Kashmiri Pandit males, though its use is very restricted now. The only difference between Kashmiri Pandit turban and Muslim turban is that Pandits do not wear any scalp cap inside. The priest class among the Pandits would wear their turbans in Namdhari Sikh style.
The people who live on the hilly region of Kashmir are known as Gujjars. The women of Gujjar community wear the Kashmir dress which is similar to the dress worn by women in the Turkish village. The Gujjar women are dressed in loose sleeved tunics (a full skirt) with baggy salwars. They also wear a thick curtain over their face which extends till their shoulders. Gujjar woman tie their hair in multiple plaits styled towards the front.
Dogras are Indo-Aryans residing amidst the hilly topography of Jammu. Dogra women wear loose tunic, dupatta, churidar salwar and a cap. The tunic is tied tightly around the waist with a Kamarbandh. Similarly, Dogara Men wear fitted pajamas and kurtas. The use of kamarbands and turbans is prominent among the Dogra elders.
The traditional dress of Jammu & Kashmir also includes the delicate Cashmere wool products and Kashmiri Shawls. These Shawls are popular all over the world for their elegant material and exotic embroidery. The most luxurious Shawls are prepared from Pashmina Wool which is also combined with rabbit fur. Pashmina wool is obtained from the native Ibex that lives on the high altitude of around 14,000 ft.
It has been observed that over the years the people of Jammu and Kashmir have adopted the dressing styles and habits of the west as well as those of other regional Indian cultures. However, Pherans have made a comeback and become a part of the Indian modern fashion worn by females all over India.
It has been noticed that Kashmiri men have appropriated the western attire to a great extent. Kashmiri men are turned pheran as a fashionable outfit by combining it with jeans. Pheran has also made its way into the office world. The modern pheran is not as wide or long as the traditional version and sometimes has side slits. It has now become uncommon to wear pheran with a salwar.
The saree gained popularity among the Hindu women after the 1930s Reform Movement. The Kashmiri youth adapting the western style prefer jeans and shirt. Despite these influences, the traditional Pheran continues to remain the symbol of the culture and couture of fashion in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mighty, endless, vast, abundant, beautiful and pure…. that is the fashion in Jammu and Kashmir!!
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