By: Meetanjali Sood Kalra
Himachal has not really been touched by any external customs but the western influence has surely vanished the popularity of traditional dresses. With the passage of time there has been a constant change in the clothing styles of the present and the older generations. Himachali attires from the past speak volumes about the impressive weaving talents of its craftsmen but the influence of the western culture and new trends has taken over the traditional dresses.
Himachali culture is deep rooted in everyday lives of people and the colors and designs imprinted in the traditional costumes are majorly influenced by its surrounding nature. The traditional costumes included garments like kurti, long coats, caps, shawls, rejta, patti, dathu, gaghri, pyjama, loi and pashmina shawls and the colors and patterns used on them differed in each community and region because of their diverse in customs and traditions.
“The most unique identity of these outfits was that they were hand woven and were crafted with smooth texture and extra finish. These traditional dresses use to be hand made or hand painted in the past but now these are either machine printed or machine embroidered. There are not too many buyers for these traditional dresses as our traditional clothing is changing hands with the modern outfits. We are slowly drifting away from our own culture and often feel ashamed using our traditional things. Moreover nobody can really define whether the influence of western culture is a boon or curse as no culture is good or bad but we just see it as a part of that particular era” says Sarita Devi an old weaver from a village near Mandi.
Decorative, intricate geometrical and bold designs of Himachali costume was something that has always been in fashion and were equally popular with people living in urban and rural areas. Even today dresses like lengha and stoles are widely known as the fashion symbols as they bear a daily wear of the local Himachali women. Earlier women preferred to stick to a simple salwaar kameez with waistcoat and headscarf but the tradition seems to have faded off as now everyone wants to put on expensive and fascinating clothes of the latest color and design.
“The youngsters love to spend money on their clothes and accessories just for the sake of variety. Fashion in today’s time is just not a monopoly of women but even men have great fancy for it as they love adopting the latest trend of speech and fashion thereby forgetting the importance of our culture and rich heritage of our tradition” says Geeta Chauhan a lecturer from Solan.
“The culture of Himachal is very unique and people from down the ages have been practicing to preserve their own tradition, ethnicity and spirit. Traditionally during earlier days a bride would wear Nath (nose ring), Kach (necklace), Kangan (traditional bangle), Gokhru and Bragar (ear rings) or hand made Gaghri (ankle length skirt) as her wedding dress given to her from grandmother or mother, which normally represented a link between her and her family. Although wearing traditional jewelry on the wedding day has strong roots across all the cultures and has been an integral part of the Himachali lifestyle but today a bride wants to wear a dress or an ornament which is lighter and more practical” says Pooja Verma a working professional from the town.
However human cultures and tradition, which forms an essential part of our past, is subject to change but it is really important to preserve and protect it in order to ensure a continuous work for our weavers and people of future generations to enjoy.