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Khasi folk dancers wearing "Jaiñboh" dhotis and other traditional garb.

The dhoti, also known as veshti,[1] vetti, dhuti, mardani, chaadra, dhotar, or Jaiñbohorpanchey, is a type of sarong, tied in a manner that outwardly resembles "loose trousers".[2][3][4] It is a lower garment forming part of the national or ethnic costume for men in the Indian subcontinent.[5] The dhoti is fashioned out of a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth, usually around 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted either in the front or the back. Dhotis come in plain or solid colours, silk dhotis with embroidered borders are considered to be formal wear. The dhoti is touted as the male counterpart of the sari worn by females to religious and secular ceremonies (functions).[6]

Pitambar is a yellow silk dhoti, worn on auspicious occasions.[7][8]


The word dhoti is derived from dhauti (Sanskrit: धौती), meaning to "cleanse or wash".[9] In the context of clothing, it simply refers to the cleansed garment which was worn as part of everyday attire[10]:129 The dhoti evolved from the ancient antriya which was passed through the legs, tucked at the back and covered the legs loosely, then flowed into long pleats at front of the legs, the same way it is worn today as formal dhoti.[10]:130 While informal dhoti wraps around both legs firmly, in this style the back side of dhoti is pulled to the front and tucked at the waist, before tucking the two loose ends at back, creating firmly fitted trouser-like dhoti that wraps around both legs.[11][12]

Names in India[edit]

Relief depicting men in anatariya and uttariya, 1st century CE.
Female dancer dressed as Krishna in yellow dhoti.

The garment is known by various names, such as:

or region
धोती Dhotī Sanskrit, Pali
धोती Dhotī Hindi
मर्दानी Mardaani Hindi
ਚਾਦਰਾ Chaadra Punjabi
ଧୋତି Dhotī Odia
ધૉતિયુ Dhotiyu Gujarati
धोतर Dhotar a
ধুতি Dhuti Bengali
ಕಚ್ಚೆ ಪಂಚೆ
Kachche Panche
आड नेसचे,
മുണ്ട് Muṇṭ‌ Malayalam
పంచ Panchā Telugu
ధోవతి Dhovathi Telugu
வேட்டி Vaetti Tamil
دھوتی Dhoti Urdu
a In Marathi, a dhotar is not the same as a pancha (plural panche).
 While the former is worn around the waist, the latter is normally
 used as a towel after a bath or shower (compare below).

Custom and usage[edit]

Dhoti is usually worn over a kaupinam or langot, types of loincloth undergarments.

A Chakravati wears a pancha in an ancient style. First century BCE/CE. Amaravathi village, Guntur district (Musee Guimet).
The Didarganj Yakshi depicting the dhoti wrap.

The pancha is worn by many orthodox Jain men when they visit the temple for puja; unstitched clothing is believed by some Jains to be "less permeable to pollution" and therefore more appropriate for religious rituals than other garments.[13] They also wear a loose, unstitched cloth, shorter than the pancha, on top.

Hare Krishna, known for its distinctive dress code, prompts Western adherents to wear pancha, usually of saffron or white cloth folded in a traditional style. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was known for wearing a white silk dhoti.[14]

In India, there's a distinction between the lungi, a similar but smaller garment often worn by people at their home as it is more casual and comfortable than dhoti, and the more formal dhoti that is sometimes worn by politicians.[15]

Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and fellow nationalist leaders can be seen wearing dhoti

During the Indian independence movement, weaving and wearing dhoti was a symbol of Swadeshi movement. Mahatma Gandhi adopted dhoti as his identity to identify with rural poor of India in 1921[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. "What is Veshti". Rhythm Dhotis. 2020.
  2. Company, Fideler (1960). Life in Other Lands. Fideler. p. 78. Retrieved 3 January 2021. It is arranged to look like a pair of baggy trousers. This garment is called a dhoti and is usually made of cotton.
  3. Bhandari, Vandana (2005). Costume, Textiles and Jewellery [i.e. Jewelry] of India: Traditions in Rajasthan. Mercury Books. p. 105. ISBN 9781904668893. Retrieved 3 January 2021. One of the reasons for the dhoti's enduring popularity is its loose trouser - like form , which is convenient and extremely well - suited to the tropical Indian climate .
  4. K Parker, Lewis (1994). India. Rourke Book Company. p. 14. ISBN 9781559160056. Retrieved 3 January 2021. Boys and men often wear a dhoti. This is a piece of white cloth wound around the waist. Dhotis look like comfortable, baggy pants.
  5. "Indian Dhoti". Indian Mirror. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  6. Avasthi, Vivek (14 January 2020). "Sarees for women, dhoti for men: Officer's dress code for Kashi temple irks minister". The Federal. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  7. Henry, Baden Powell (1872). Hand-book of the Economic Products of the Punjab (etc.): Forming ... to the hand-book of the economic products of the Punjab. Engineering College Press. pp. 65, 67.
  8. Birdwood, George Christopher Molesworth (1884). The Industrial Arts of India. Chapman and Hall. p. 363.
  9. "Sanskrit - Asien.net".
  10. 10.0 10.1 Govind Sadashiv Ghurye (1951) Indian Costume
  11. Indian Costume by Govind Sadashiv Ghurye 1966
  12. Ancient Indian Costume By Roshen Alkazi 1996
  13. Cort, John E. (2001). Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India. Oxford University Press. p. 221. doi:10.1093/0195132343.001.0001. ISBN 9780195132342.
  14. Koppel, Lily (February 6, 2008). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Guide On the Beatles' Spiritual Path, Dies". New York Times. p. C.10.
  15. McLain, Sean (2014-07-23). "No Dhotis Please, We're Indian". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  16. Sankaralingam, Sathrukkan (2020-09-02). "Gandhi - Weaving a nation together". Minister White Blog. Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  17. "What made Gandhiji wear only Loincloth or Dhoti". pib.gov.in. Retrieved 2021-10-07.

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