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The lungi (/luŋɡi/), also known as a sarong, is a traditional garment worn around the waist in Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Brunei, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, the Horn of Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula. In Kerala, it is also called Kaili. It is particularly popular in regions where the heat and humidity create an unpleasant climate for trousers.
Unlike dhotis (Mundu), which are linear like sheets, lungis are sometimes sewn into a tube shape like a skirt. They are especially worn in hot regions. There are also cheaper "open" lungis, in identical dimensions but not sewn into a tube shape. The standard adult lungi is 115 cm in height and 200 cm in length, when open. Children's lungis are available in approximately 2/3 of this size. They are normally woven from cotton and come in a variety of designs and colors. Silk lungis are available for ceremonial purposes such as weddings. The most common styles are either solid-colored or plaid, reflecting the relative ease and cost-effectiveness of producing these patterns on a power loom. Blue is particularly popular, since it fades to pleasant tones in contrast to other colors. Regardless of the design or color, lungis are often lined at the top and bottom with a black/white stripe containing reinforced weaving to prevent fraying.
Depending on local tradition, lungis can be worn by men and/or women (rarely). They are tied or fastened in various ways, and can be used in different cultural activities, ranging from normal daily life to elaborate wedding ceremonies. For daily purposes, a simple "double twist" knot is most popular, where two points in the upper edge of lungi are brought together and twisted around twice, with the ends tucked in at the waist. However, it is also common for wearers to simply tie a double "pretzel knot" from 2 points on the upper border, which produces a more secure knot. The lungi's length can also be adjusted, for example, by tucking in the lungi at the waist to make it resemble a short skirt.
The lungi (Bengali: লুঙ্গি /luŋɡi/) is the most commonly seen dress of Bangladeshi men, although it is not normally worn for formal occasions. In Bangladesh, lungis are worn by men, almost universally indoors and commonly outdoors as well. Elaborately designed tartan cotton, batik, or silk lungis are also often presented as wedding gifts to the groom in a Bangladeshi wedding. The typical Bangladeshi lungi is a seamless tubular shape, as opposed to the single sheet worn in other parts of South and Southeast Asia. In Bangladesh, the lungi industry is concentrated in Sirajganj, Kustia, and Khulna. Bangladeshi women do not traditionally wear lungis, although non-Bengali tribal women do wear similar garments in some parts of southeastern Bangladesh.
In April 2013, the Baridhara Housing Society—a housing society in Dhaka—banned lungi, and began refusing entry to those who wore them. However, many opposed the ban, taking to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to criticise the decision. A march took place on 13 April to oppose the ban.
Meanwhile, U.S Ambassador Dan W. Mozena has been seen wearing a lungi in front of his house.
In Ethiopia, the Lungi is commonly worn by Afar region people. As the climate is very hot in the Afar region, the Lungi makes the perfect garment.
In India, the customs behind wearing lungis vary by state.
In Kerala, the lungi is generally colourful and available in various designs, and it is worn by both men and women. Physical laborers typically use it as a working dress. A Kerala dhoti is plain white and known as mundu, and it often bears golden embroidery (known as "kasavu"), especially at the border; it is worn as formal attire and on ceremonial occasions like weddings, festivals, etc. Saffron-coloured mundus are known as kaavi munde. The men sometimes tuck up their mundus (Kerala dhoti) or lungis with the bottom of the garment being pulled up and tied back on to the waist. This would mean that the mundu (Kerala dhoti) or lungi only covers the body from the waist to the knees.
In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, only men wear this garment, and it is worn slightly differently from men in Kerala; Keralites tie the mundu to the right side, while the Tamilians tie it to their left. However, there are exceptions and some of the Muslim communities in Kerala also tie the mundu to their left. It is also known as "Kaili" or "Saaram/Chaaram" in South Tamil Nadu. The Muslims of Tamil Nadu are found to favor white-colored lungis for formal occasions.
In Karnataka it is customary for village residents to wear the lungi at all times and for all occasions. The garment is always worn for marriages; the bride and groom fathers and the groom himself wear white panche. If a family can afford it, they typically choose a pure silk panche for the marriage ceremony.
Navayath Muslim men from Bhatkal and surrounding areas of coastal Karnataka, wear this garment as a common attire, and it is worn slightly differently from other states as it is stitched in the middle.
In Punjab (both Pakistani and Indian portions), lungis are worn by both men and women. The male lungi is also called a tehmat, while the female lungi is called a laacha. They are part of traditional dance attire in Bhangra dance groups, but are also popular in rural areas as home wear. They are generally tied in a different way than in other parts of India and are, as a rule, unstitched and very colourful. Wearing the lungi has declined in the Punjab region in recent years.
Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei
In Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei (basically Malay Archipelago countries), the garment is called a Sarung and is well known through the traditional fashion of Indonesia. Indonesians mostly use Sarungs for religious events. The Sarung also has many kind of artistic variations in Indonesia, such as Batik, plain colours, square-like shapes and Samarindan Batik from Kalimantan (Borneo). In the traditional Javanese language, it is also known as Kain meaning fabric, and is the most popular garment throughout Indonesia, especially in Sumatra, Java and Bali.
In Myanmar, the lungi is called longyi. For men, the lungi is known as a paso (Burmese: ပုဆိုး), and for women, it is known as a htamain (Burmese: ထဘီ). Lungis of different fabrics, including cotton and silk, are worn for both informal and formal occasions.
In Oman, the garment is called an Izaar. A white Izaar is typically worn underneath the Thobe and a coloured Izaar may be worn by fishermen and during times of manual labour without a Thobe. Sometimes, as part of traditional dance attire, a shorter knee length Izaar is worn on top of the traditional garment.
In Saudi Arabia, the garment is called an Izaar. The tribal people of the southwestern regions like Asir generally wear their own woven Izaar, similar to those used by tribes in Northern Yemen. They are often black in colour, unstitched and may have tassels. Other Saudis may wear imported Bangladeshi, Indian, or Indonesian plaid or striped Izaars as comfortable home wear or for sleeping. It is very common in coastal areas, and is also worn extensively by fishermen.
In Somalia, the lungi sarong is referred to as a macawis. It is commonly worn by Somali men as casual wear. The traditional color of the macawis is plain white. However, due to trade with the Southeast Asian islands and the Indian subcontinent as well as the location of Somalia on the Spice Route, colourful Southeast Asian-style lungis are becoming more and more popular.
In Yemen, the garment is called a Futah and is worn by males of all ages.
In popular culture
In 2013, a song called Lungi Dance was made and used as a promotion song. It was written, composed and sung by the rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh and starred himself along with Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone.
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