The dhoti, also known as vesti, dhuti, mardani, dhoteé, lacha, dhotra, and pancha, is a traditional men's garment, worn in the Indian Subcontinent mainly by Indian, Nepalese and Bangladeshi people. It is worn predominantly in the countries of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is the national dress of Madhesh region of Southern Nepal worn mainly by Nepalis of Madhesi, Tharu, Maithali and Bahun ethnicity. It is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth, usually around 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted at the waist.
The word dhoti is derived from (Sanskrit: धौती) dhauti meaning to cleanse or wash. In context of garment, it simply refers to cleansed garment which was worn during shrauta sacrifices or religious session in general. Dhoti evolved from ancient Anatariya which was passed through legs, tucked at the back and covered the legs loosely, then flowed into a long pleats at front of the legs, the same way it is worn today.
The garment is known by various names, such as:
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
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. 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. Mahatma Gandhi invariably wore a pancha on public occasions but, as he was aware that it was considered "indecent" to do so in other countries, was shocked when a friend wore one in London. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was known for wearing a white silk dhoti.
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- "Nepalese national dresses".
- Govind Sadashiv Ghurye (1951) "Indian Costume.", p.129
- Govind Sadashiv Ghurye (1951) "Indian Costume.", p.130
- Cort, John E. (2001). Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India. Oxford University Press. p. 221. ISBN 9780195132342.
- Mahatma Gandhi was shocked when a friend wore a pancha in London
- Koppel, Lily (February 6, 2008). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Guide On the Beatles' Spiritual Path, Dies". New York Times. p. C.10.