Maharashtra – The Great Land. As the name itself suggests, Maharashtra is diverse in its riches. It has been reflected through its, forts, caves, palaces known for its rich history, its Saints, philosophers, music, handicrafts and its festivals with all their colourful rituals and traditions, all of which amalgamate together to give a true reflection of Maharashtrian Culture.
Maharashtra boasts of its Native Language, Marathi. The people of Maharashtra are very particular and respectful towards their language and towards their rich culture and history. They take immense pride for Shivaji, their hero. The cultural heritage of Maharashtra is wealthy. The fairs dedicated to Lord Ganesha have been famed across the nation now. All the religions have important monuments and sites in that state.
Art and devotion have also reached a new level in this state. British and Christian history is evident in the lanes of Mumbai. The historical heritage is also well preserved in Maharashtra. The caves of Eldora and Ajanta are sites of national and global archaeological heritage and are a part of the several world heritage sites in India.
It is a land of unique culture and traditions. In congruence with the myriad Fairs and Festivals that form part of the lives of common people, there are different types of costumes worn by these people on these occasions. The costumes, in fact, vary from one festive occasion to the other. The daily wear of men and women are strikingly different from those that are set for special events.
The costumes of Maharashtra are the reflection of its culture. In order to cater to the needs of this populous state, the textile industry in Maharashtra has grown on a fully fledged scale. There is a rich variety in the colour and textures of the attires of both men and women. The costumes are well suited to the hot and humid climate of the state.
Saris: The traditional costume of Maharashtra women is a nine-yard sari which is known by the name Nauvari. Its unique draping style dates back to the historical period and was necessitated by the responsibilities that were entrusted to women folk of the ancient period. The sari aids in easy and fast movements contrary to the traditional sari that make it difficult for the women to move with ease and comfort. There is no need to wear an undergarment below. Though these saris are generally made up of cotton, these days, women prefer silk to wear them at special occasions. Nauvari is actually associated with brave women rulers like Lakshmi Bai who fought fearless battles in this beautiful attire.
The width of the saris is approximately 40-45 inches. There are vertical and horizontal borders called “Kinar” and “Padar” respectively. The other types of saris that are worn by Maharashtra women include kanjivaram, banarasi, iraakli, chanderi, and paithani. These saris differ from each other in textures and length of kinar and padar.
As Nauvari is one of the most common costumes of Maharashtra, there have been variations in length and its size. The younger generation prefers to wear saris that are shorter in length due the ease of wearing and comfort in carrying. These shorter sadis, as they are generally called in Marathi, are worn on a petticoat. Instead of traditional cholis, the young women prefer wearing polkas, and blouses. The cholis with low necks and short sleeves are quite popular these days. The Brahman women prefer tucking in the pleats of the sari in the waist that facilitates them to do household works with more comfort.
There has been a sea-change in the costumes that are worn by women residing in metropolitan cities. The traditional dresses have been discarded by them; instead they have adopted more westernized attires like jeans, skirts, and churidars. These are more comfortable than saris.
Jewellery: Maharashtra women prefer adorning their costumes with loads of jewellery. Heavy necklaces, nose rings, and gold bangles are their favourites. The bright paithani saris are embellished with gold or silver jari; this gives these saris an exclusive ornamental look.
Dhoti and phetta is the most common dress of Maharashtra men. Wearing dhoti dates back to historical times; it is in fact part of cultural heritage of the state. A shirt or a trouser is worn along with dhoti; sometimes they prefer to wear a bandi over their shirts. This, in combination with a turban or “pheta” adorns their heads. Dhoti is generally made up of a piece of cotton that is about 2-3 meters long. The turban is also known by the names “patka”, “rumal” etc.
The style of wearing differs from region to region. The Brahmin men allow at least 5 tucks of dhoti in their waist with two tucks in front and rear. On festive or special occasions, dhotis are replaced with more fashionable aukan and churidar pajamas
Among the other costumes of Maharashtra that are popular among urban men are jeans, trousers, shirts, t-shirts, and other casual wear. As the society is getting trendier, there has been a change in fashion statements. Men, like women have now become more conscious about their looks. The effect of commercialization and globalization can be clearly seen on their lifestyles.
As far as footwear is concerned, people of Maharashtra still prefer wearing chapppals and sandal. People working in metropolitan cities have adapted themselves to shoes and boots. Ladies like wearing fashionable sandals, some of which are high-heeled. Among chappals, Kolhapuri brand is the most famous. As economy of Maharashtra is still agrarian, preference is given to ethnic footwear.
Ornaments are considered vital to the costumes of Maharashtra. “Saaj” is a necklace that is quite popular among women. The traditional nath (nose ring), tanmani (short necklace), and choker are worn by women on all occasions. Bangles of different sizes are used to embellish their hands.
There are variety of costumes of Maharashtra that reflect the tradition, culture, and changing life-styles of the people.
In the urban areas of Maharashtra, and especially in its cosmopolitan capital, Mumbai, costumes display themselves in their variety best. Women put in Kurta-Pajamas, Salwaar-kameez, skirt-blouse, and jeans-trousers, exotic Sarees and so on. The urban Mumbai men on the other hand, flaunt themselves with the halo of grooming. They shift from wearing jeans, trousers, branded shirts, baggy trousers, T-shirts, all possible types of casual wears. On occasions, sherwanis, kurta-pajamas, ornate Dhotis, and other kinds of resplendent men’s attire, rank among their favourites. Indeed, Mumbai the glam-epicentre of India, and the abode of Bollywood, is the trendsetter for costumes, for the whole of India. Fashion experiences its high, in the posh cities of Maharashtra, with fashion-designing institutes and business units, establishing their sway.
The state of Maharashtra, hence has achieved a splendid synthesis of the old and the new patterns in costume. Time and the effect of globalisation have brought a drastic change in the costumes of each and every state and Maharashtra as well. Though the modernisation has a great impact in the society, the tradition has not faded its glitter, thus the traditional dresses have not lost the glory of their past. It has also focused on the traditional and regional textile-accomplishments like Paithani as the ‘in-thing’ now.