When I think of India, I instantly get images of the rolling hills of Rajasthan; food stalls on the side of the street and off course your typical Bollywood jazz. With a population of over 1.2 billion, it is home to a wide variety of cultures, languages and traditional practices.
One of the most unique things that stand out about India is its beautiful design aesthetic reflected in the variety of clothes worn by women. Walk down a street in India and you’ll come across a number of different outfits, each portraying its own particular identity and flair.
Often times, traditional Indian clothes are seen as exquisite pieces of art, especially when it comes to the heavy embroidery present on some sari’s, churidars and even the basic shalwar kameezs. However, if we inspect the entire outfit in order to understand it better, we find that each item of clothing has a deep-rooted meaning in the Indian culture. The dupatta; the loose piece of colorful material often worn over the head or the chest has found itself representing multiple things throughout the years.
You will not be mistaken to think that the dupatta’s origins are religious rather than cultural; it was worn by Hindu women to cover their heads while offering prayers in the temple. But as the Indian culture evolved, so did the attire worn by the men and women of India. Each item of clothing became an indication of where a person came from, their social status, and even their religious affiliation.
The Dupatta soon became an integral part of traditional South Asian garments for religious ceremonies and special occasions such as weddings. Most South Asian brides adorn their attires with heavily embellished dupattas, thereby symbolizing their modesty and enhancing their beauty. It is an everyday accessory with origins going back into ancient times.
Many Western fashion trends have been inspired by India’s unique culture, and more specifically, by traditional Indian clothing. Recently, the world-renowned fashion house, Chanel, created a collection inspired by the clothes and styles of India. Not only did it capture the world’s attention and awe, but it proved that Indian clothes and styles are easily adaptable to any modern and fashion-forward wardrobe.