All about a dhoti….

After readng Atreya ji’s piece on Bipasha’s saree status in Muse ,I picked up a similar news item pertaining to the sorry state of affair about the dhoti. Here it is : 
Didi’s darlings take oath in dhotis:
Hours before being sworn in as Ministers of State, a few leaders of the Trinamool Congress were seen sweating it out in central Delhi’s crowded Karol Bagh market. Their mission: Buying a Bengali-style dhoti-kurta ensemble they’d been directed to wear at the swearing-in ceremony. After she arrived from Kolkata on Wednesday night, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee (54) dropped this bombshell on six unsuspecting partymen.With the exception of Sisir Adhikari (69) and Sougata Roy (64), none of the quartet of minister designates — Mohan Jatua (71), Sultan Ahmed (56), Dinesh Trivedi (58) and Mukul Roy (55) — are known to be adept at tying the dhoti.Nervous about the dhoti falling at an inopportune moment, one leader is said to have gone scouting for dhotis with an elastic belt – like those worn by boys during the Durga Puja. His search was futile, party sources said.  “Ministers from Southern states wear the dhoti and the angawastram (stole), while Rajasthan politicians wear the safa (traditional headgear). I did ask them to wear the dhoti-kurta,” Banerjee said.“It felt special to be at Rashtrapati Bhawan in a dhoti,” Ahmed told HT. Trinamool ministers may have discovered hidden virtues of the dhoti for now, but the buzz is that they dread the uniform.“One can’t do daur dhoop (running around) in the dress. I think we’ll be asked to wear it only on special occasions”, said Ahmed.
1.My tryst with the Dhoti :
I recall a few anxious moments from my college days when I had to wear a dhoti while taking part in a college play.The item (dhoti) would not stay in place and I was worried of the consequences ( the word ” wardrobe malfunction ” had not been coined then ) while running around the stage.I had solved the problem by tying my leather belt tightly over the top portion of the dhoti so as to feel secure.
2.For those readers who would like to educate/re-educate themselves, here is an introductory piece from the following link :   :
3.The dhotī or doti in Hindi, Dhoti or Kachche Panche in Kannada, called Suriya in Assamese, Pancha in Telugu, Laacha in Punjabi, Mundu in Malayalam, Dhuti in Bangla, Veshti in Tamil, and Dhotar inMarathi, is the traditional garment of men’s wear in India. It is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth, usually around 7 yards long, wrapped around the waist and the legs, and knotted at the waist.In northern India, the garment is worn with a Kurta on top, the combination known simply as “dhoti kurta”, or a dhuti panjabi in the East. In Tamil Nadu, it is worn with an angavastram (another unstitched cloth draped over the shoulders) or else with a chokka (shirt) inAndhra Pradesh or jubba (a local version of kurta). The lungi is a similar piece of cloth worn in similar manner, though only on informal occasions. The lungi is not as long and is basically a bigger version of a towel worn to fight the extremely hot weather in India. The sarong is another similar item of clothing.
4.Those interested in seeing pictures of different styles of tying the dhoti and various customs may kindly visit the above site. Have a nice “dekho”!
5. Looking to the plight of the politicians,I suggest that they also visit the following site :
6. To make their and your work easier,here are some tips :
1. The dhoti is one long piece of cloth.  Start by folding it in half so that it is half its original length.
2. Drape the dhoti behind you.  The stripe should be vertical and held at the top by the left hand. 
3. The top of the folded side should be in your right hand and the dhoti should drape almost to the ground behind your heels.
4. Bring together in front of you the folded side in your right hand to meet the stripe side in your left hand.
5. Hold both the folded and stripe side in your left hand and bring them at even tension directly to your left side, keeping the bottom of the dhoti level and near the ground.
6. Hold the stripe side in your left hand as you accordion fold the fold side with your right hand until it is even horizontally with your left leg.
7. There should now be a folded bunch in your right hand.  Slightly lift this bunch in your right hand as you bring the stripe side over it to your right side. 
8. The dhoti is now wrapped around you.  What is left is adjusting the tightness and rolling it down to hold the tension in place.
9. Take the bunch in your right hand twist it slightly together and to the left and slip the top side of the dhoti just over the bunch to hold it in place.
10. Even up the stripe side so that the stripe is vertical and the dhoti drapes level just above the floor.
11. Roll the top of the dhoti down to a comfortable waist level, somewhere below the belly button.
Dhotis do not have pockets, but they do have a roll at the waistline.  It is possible to carry small items such as keys, cash, and some IDs by placing them in the roll.  With some practice your items will be secure and easily accessible. 
Be careful going up steps.  It is easy to step on the dhoti, especially the left side (which is accordion folded).  Lifting the bunched accordion fold higher before rolling helps alleviate this problem. 
Silk dhotis do stay on.  I was surprised because I thought their slipperiness would make them slip right off.  I’ve danced the night away in a silk dhoti with no problem. 
You do not need to wear undergarments with your dhoti, but be aware the fabric is thin, especially in the back.  Wearing your white dhoti in the rain might be more interesting than you anticipated. 
Wind can blow open dhotis and when you sit down the dhoti may come slightly apart.  The more you overlap the fabric in the middle the less of a problem this is. 
 When you order a dhoti you will probably have to trim off the end.  If there is a seemingly useless strip of cloth attached by threads to either end of your dhoti cut it off.  This is just to keep the dhoti from fraying until it is sold. 
Dhotis do stop fraying naturally.  They do not just come apart after some time. 
Dhotis are traditionally worn very near the ground, almost touching.  If you plan on dancing in your dhoti, wrap it a little higher to keep it from being stepped on.
Fold the dhoti in half before drying it and make sure the stripes line up.  When you take it out of the dryer it should still be folded in half with the stipes lined up.  This is important for making sure the dhoti stays together well when it is wrapped.
7. I recall that sometime in 1975, a Bollywood movie titled ” Dhoti Lota Aur Chowpatty ” was released . It was directed by the comedian Mohan Choti.The movie did not create any major waves in the media but had some funny scenes and songs.The summary of the movie plot was as under:
An assortment of characters living near Juhu, Chowpatty, meet, share comic, romantic, and fight scenes. This movie is remebered for the reverse casting as main heros such as Dharam and Sanjeev have wee bit roles, whereas the wee bit character roles usally played by Mohan Choti, and Farida Jalal, are the main characters. This movie is also remembered for it’s songs: “Dhoti lota aur chowpatty yeh apne pyar ke saathi, eense apna rishta nahta, bakhi sarhi duniya maati..”; “Chal gai chal gai ishk ki goli chal gai…”; “Soh bar ki tobah phir bhi dil ne kar diya pyar, pyar, pyar, jo hoga dekha jayega jab ho hi gaya pyar pyar..”; “Thumak thumak chale chaal hath me kajal ki jori, gora badan, patli kamar…O gori tera roop bada mastana..”.
8. Opening a training school for teaching “The Fine Art Of Tying The Dhoti” is not a bad idea but whether it will get a good business to justify its viability and existence will need to be seen or “dhoti-tized” !!
Readers are invited to share their dhoti ideas and experiences . Long Live The Dhoti !!
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6 Responses to All about a dhoti….

  1. Dr Pooja says:

    Jitoo Uncle, Kya dhoti hai ! Ajeeb hai uski dastaan. Apne to uski kundali post kiya hai. Enjoyed. Warm wishes.

    Dr Pooja G Bhuyar, Bijapur
    May 29, 2009

  2. Atreya Sarma says:


    It’s such a delightful as well as utilitarian stuff. I am also enamoured of dhoti, what we call pancha here in Andhra, and it goes well with its aesthetic and purposeful upper garment (uttareeyam / angavastram / kanduvaa) that is hung on or around your shoulders on your shirt in various ways.

    The TMC sworn-in-to-be ministers could have perhaps contacted the costumers for an immediate and copious supply. But then in the muddle of tenseness, that too at the eleventh hour with Mamta B-Energy-ji breathing down their necks, how can anyone get such a cool idea?

    There’s a unique style of wrapping the dhoti, the cyclist’s (or should I say the trousers) style, where it would be just like a body-hugger right from your ankle to the waist – and my redoubtable father who is just now past 93, is an acknowledged expert in that.

    And what surprises me no end are two aspects. How adroitly they hem in the top edge of the dhoti and twist it into an improvised hermit-sealed purse! And how our Tamil and Kerala brethren and the Telugus bordering Tamil Nadu wear the spotless-white dhoti lungi-like and elegantly strut about – but how and where they carry their purse, pen, mobile, hanky, keys, notes, and bric-a-brac is an eternal unsolved puzzle to me . E.g., Chidambaram (TN) and Venkaiah Naidu (AP).

    For all my gibes at the Bip siren, I am guilty that I am not that good at this dhoti art, though I can somehow manage. However, I assure you that I would gird up my loins to wear a dhoti as fast as I compose a haiku! But Brocaji, your advice that “you do not need to wear undergarments with your dhoti” seems to be a mischievous prank.

    [And I took about two hours to write this comment and in several phases – with the power playing truant for three-fourths of it. You must be lucky in Delhi, it being the power centre.]

    Kudos for your spontaneous write-up. A very good graphic and elaborate multi-step, though mind-boggling, do-it-yourselfer. Warmest regards. Happy second innings! From now onwards you should produce a piece a day.

    U Atreya Sarma, Secunderabad-56
    May 30, 2009

  3. G S P Rao says:

    Jeetu ji, on reading your piece on dhoti, I am reminded of a hilarious poem my teacher had read out in school, just to show how we Indians crave to differentiate ourselves from others, in a show of one-upmanship:

    Dhoti boli pajame se
    “Bhai, hum-tum bane ek hi dhage se.”
    Pajama bola:
    “Theek hai, tu khulti hai peeche se
    par my khulta hun aage se !”


    Dhoti says thus to Pyjama:
    “Brother, we are made of the same thread.”
    (suggesting that we are equals, have lot in common)
    Pyjama responds:
    “Fine, but you are untied from behind
    while I open from the front !”

    G S P Rao, Hyderabad
    May 30, 2009

  4. J S BROCA says:

    Dear Dr Pooja, Dear Atreyaji and respected Rao Sahib, Thanks to you all for your varied responses to my posting. How I wish I could display the cartoon which accompanied the news item. It showed a poltician standing in front of a dhoti shop where a sales man stood with a pair of ready made dhoti with sticking tape with which it could be stuck to the body. It also showed a board saying “Discount for Railway People”. Another poster said dhoti with zipper in front available for “Tatkal Seva” ! The cartoonists had a field day!

    J S Broca , New Delhi
    May 30, 2009

  5. I found your site being bookmarked in one of the social sites. Im glad I visited it. Interesting articles you have here.

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