Jaya Tailors


South Asia comprises India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan. The geographical terrain varies from mountainous regions along the northern borders, to desert areas, arid and semiarid zones dependent on monsoon rains for agriculture, the uplands of the Deccan Plateau, tropical wetlands, and the rich valleys of the Indus and Ganges rivers, seats of ancient cultures. Despite differences in physical appearance, language, and other ethnological features, the people of South Asia share to a considerable degree a common cultural heritage. Sanskrit and Prakrit, the languages of the region's most ancient texts, are still employed in religious rituals and classical learning. The Mahabharata and Ramayana, great epics dating from ca. 500-300 B.C.E., reinforce cultural links and a sense of shared traditional Draped and wrapped garments are the most common form of clothing for both men and women in South Asia. The sari (also spelled saree), in many variant sizes and wrapping techniques, worn with a choli (blouse), is the most typical form of South Asian women's dress. An analogous wrapped garment for the lower torso and legs, the dhoti, is widely worn by men; it is usually wrapped and tucked to form a kind of unstitched pantaloon. In some areas both sexes wear the sarong (also known as a lungi), a wrapped skirt. Stitched garments are also widely worn in the region by both men and women; examples include the loose trousers called payjamas, and the ensemble of salwar (pantaloons) and kamiz (long tunic) that has become the national dress of Pakistan.


In northwestern India, the women of Gujarat and Rajasthan wear a wrapped skirt, jimmi, or a wide skirt, ghagro, with a fitting backless blouse, and a veil. The blouse has many variations, as described in the ancient literature. In Saurashtra and Kutch, men of the Kathiawari ethnic group, descendants of the Huns, wear a pleated blouse (kedia), tight pajamas, a large shawl around their waist, and a turban, a costume similar to some peasant costumes in the Balkans. People in the Tharparkar and Sindh areas of Pakistan dress in a similar manner. Hindu women wear a skirt, a backless blouse, and veil, while Muslim tribal women wear a thigh-length backless blouse, an embroidered salwar, and a veil. In the urban areas of Gujarat, men wear a dhoti with a shirt, while women wear a fourteen-and-a-half-foot sari with a cross border worn in the front.

In central India and the western coastal area, Hindu and tribal men and women wear unstitched garments. Urban men wear stitched upper garments during winter or for special occasions. Women of different groups wear saris of 137 inches to 312 inches in length (31/2 meters to 8 meters in length). Tribal women wear shorter saris, while urban and more affluent women wear longer ones. They are wrapped so as to create unstitched pantaloons by taking the front pleats, passing them between the legs, and tucking them into the back. This style of sari wrapping is associated with women's chastity. Women in south India (including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) wear the sari in a variety of styles, depending on geo-climatic conditions and cultural traditions.

Women in Kerala, in southwestern most India, wear sarongs instead of saris, while men wear a white double-layered sarong, with an upper-body cloth along with a shirt.

Muslim men and women throughout India wear stitched garments. The common dress for men is a kurta (long tunic) and pajama. The affluent wear an embroidered coat, angarkha, and embroidered cap. For official occasions they wear a fitting long coat, sherwani, and tight pajama. The turban varies according to their vocation, the occasion, and their age. Women wear a tight pajama, a fitted shirt (often with a jacket), and an embroidered veil. For outdoors many women wear the burqa. Among the affluent, farshi payjama, a trailing, wide divided skirt, is worn for special occasions. Among non-Muslims, such as Hindus and Jains, stitched garments have to be removed by men and women for religious ceremonies or for entering a temple.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, a large island lying at the southernmost tip of India, was an important maritime center from ancient times, linking the East with the West. The Greeks called it Taprobane, and the Arabs Serendib. Sri Lanka's recorded history dates from the mid-first millennium B.C.E. Around 400 B.C.E. King Pandukabhaya began developing the arts and established close contacts with Buddhist India. Theravada Buddhism remains the dominant religion of Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese people today. Early sculptures show close linkages with Indian tradition and the figures are seen wearing flowing draped garments.

Sri Lanka has absorbed a great deal of external influence during its history. Arab traders drawn to the spice and textile trade visited the island from late Roman times onward. Colombo and Galle had colonies of Arab traders, who introduced Islam to Sri Lanka. Portuguese traders settled in coastal areas in the early sixteenth century. The Portuguese settlements were taken over by the Dutch in the mid-seventeenth century; the British, who established a colonial regime in 1833, in turn, expelled the Dutch. European influence on Sri Lankan culture can be seen in dress, especially among the so-called Burghers, who are of mixed Dutch and Sinhalese ancestry. Early drawings show Burghers mingling traditional dress with European elements. Men wore over the sarong a long coat with puffed sleeves and a sash, as well as a hat. Women dressed in a sarong and upper cloth combined with European jackets. However, many people continued to wear clothing not affected by European influence.

The Sri Lankan population includes two major elements, the Sinhalese and, especially in the north eastern part of the island, the Tamils. The latter were migrants from south eastern India, many brought in by the British as plantation workers in the nineteenth century. The two communities have distinctive clothing traditions.

The traditional dress of the Sinhalese women is the sarong worn with a stitched blouse and a scarf over the shoulder. In some cases the sarong has a frill at the top. Some wear a blouse with lace inserts at the waist and the sleeves, with a silver belt. Men wear a sarong and a kamiz (tunic). The fact that two women heads of state have always worn the Sinhalese national dress has influenced even the Burghers to adopt the traditional costume. Tamil women wear the saris draped in the traditions of their community, while the men wear the veshti, a white sarong. Muslim men, who trace their roots to Arab settlers, wear a colorful sarong with a tunic and a cap. Muslim women traditionally wore local dress; however, in the early 2000s many have adopted Islamic dress, including wearing the headscarf.