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Lungi

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Introduction of Lungi

Perhaps no other Indian attire is as simple, or less cumbersome, as the lungi, which is a garment worn around the waist. The origin of the traditional lungi can be traced to South India, though the dress is now popular among several other communities of Asia also. Lungi is generally woven from cotton and is available in many designs, patterns and colors.

This traditional attire of India is most commonly worn in South India. They are made of silk or cotton and are a good respite from the summer heat. Most traditional ceremonies see men dressed up in lungis, not to forget the famous bhangra dance where the dancers look spellbinding in the lungi.

No matter what the color and design of the lungi, there is always a thin line or stripe running horizontally at the top and bottom of this garment. A lungi is different from a dhoti that is a linear-like sheet, because it is sewn into a circle like a skirt. Though it is normally worn by men in India, at some places, you will find the women folk wearing it too. Depending upon the occasion, a lungi is tied or fastened in different styles.

 

Usage

Depending on local tradition, lungis can be worn by men and/or women (rarely). They are tied or fastened in various ways, and can be used in different cultural activities, ranging from normal daily life to elaborate wedding ceremonies. For daily purposes, a simple "double twist" knot is most popular, where two points in the upper edge of lungi are brought together and twisted around twice, with the ends tucked in at the waist. However, it is also common for wearers to simply tie a double "pretzel knot" from 2 points on the upper border, which produces a more secure knot. The lungi's length can also be adjusted, for example, by tucking in the lungi at the waist to make it resemble a short skirt.

 

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Design

Unlike dhotis (Mundu), which are linear like sheets, lungis are sometimes sewn into a tube shape like a skirt. They are especially worn in hot regions. There are also cheaper "open" lungis, in identical dimensions but not sewn into a tube shape. The standard adult lungi is 115 cm in height and 200 cm in length, when open. Children's lungis are available in approximately 2/3 of this size. They are normally woven from cotton and come in a variety of designs and colors. Silk lungis are available for ceremonial purposes such as weddings. The most common styles are either solid-colored or plaid, reflecting the relative ease and cost-effectiveness of producing these patterns on a power loom. Blue is particularly popular, since it fades to pleasant tones in contrast to other colors. Regardless of the design or color, lungis are often lined at the top and bottom with a black/white stripe containing reinforced weaving to prevent fraying.

 

Regional variations

Bangladesh

The lungi is the most commonly seen dress of Bangladeshi men, although it is not normally worn for formal occasions. In Bangladesh, lungis are worn by men, almost universally indoors and commonly outdoors as well. Elaborately designed tartan cotton, batik, or silk lungis are also often presented as wedding gifts to the groom in a Bangladeshi wedding.

Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, the Lungi is commonly worn by Afar region people. As the climate is very hot in the Afar region, the Lungi makes the perfect garment.

India

In India, the customs behind wearing lungis vary by state.

In Kerala, the lungi is generally colourful and available in various designs, and it is worn by both men and women. It is also called Kaili mundu. Physical laborers typically use it as a working dress.

In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, only men wear this garment, and it is worn slightly differently from men in Kerala; Keralites tie the mundu to the right side, while the Tamilians tie it to their left. It is also known as "Kaili" or "Saaram/Chaaram" in South Tamil Nadu. The Muslims of Tamil Nadu are found to favor white-colored lungis for formal occasions.

In Karnataka it is customary for village residents to wear the lungi at all times and for all occasions. The garment is always worn for marriages; the bride and groom fathers and the groom himself wear white panche.

It is common in Konkan side of Karnataka state. Mostly used by Nawayath people who hail from Bhatkal Almost all of them wear it as their daily attire.

In Punjab (both Pakistani and Indian portions), lungis are worn by both men and women. The male lungi is also called a tehmat, while the female lungi is called a laacha. They are part of traditional dance attire in Bhangra dance groups, but are also popular in rural areas as home wear. They are generally tied in a different way than in other parts of India and are, as a rule, unstitched and very colourful.

In Odisha, and West Bengal the lungi is primarily worn at home by males of all classes of society. Hindu men generally avoid wearing lungis on the street.

In Odisha, Sambalpuri with the Sambalpuri pattern and mule based lungis from Khordha are available in addition to normal cotton fabric lungis.

In Bihar and Haryana the lungi is considered a night garment for men.

Myanmar

In Myanmar, it is spelt longyi. For men, the longyi is known as a paso, and for women, it is known as a htamain. Longyis of different fabrics, including cotton and silk, are worn for both informal and formal occasions.

Thailand

In Thailand, it is known as a "pa kao mah"for men and a "pa toong" for women.

 

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