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Indian folk dancers dressed in dhotis

The dhoti, also known as panche, vesti, dhuti, mardani, chaadra, dhotar, and panchey, is a traditional men's garment worn in the Indian subcontinent. 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 dhauti (Sanskrit: धौती), meaning to cleanse or wash.[1] In the context of clothing, it simply refers to the cleansed garment which was worn during shrauta sacrifices or religious sessions in general.[2]:129 The dhoti evolved from the ancient antriya which was passed through the legs, tucked at the back and covered the legs loosely, then flowed into long pleats at front of the legs, the same way it is worn today.[2]:130

Regional namesEdit

Relief depicting men in anatariya and uttariya, 1st century AD
Female dancer dressed as Krishna in yellow dhoti

The garment is known by various names, such as:

or region
धोती Dhotī Sanskrit, Pali
धोती Dhotī Hindi
मर्दानी Mardaani Hindi
ਚਾਦਰਾ Chaadra Punjabi
ଧୋତି Dhotī Odia
धोति Dhoteé Nepali
ધૉતિયુ Dhotiyu Gujarati
धोतर Dhotar a
চুৰিয়া Suriya Assamese
ধুতি Dhuti Bengali
ಕಚ್ಚ ಪಂಚೆ
Kachcha Panche
आड नेसचे,
పంచె Panché Telugu
ధోవతి Dhovathi Telugu
வேட்டி Veshti Tamil
മുണ്ട് Mundu Malayalam
دھوتی Dhoti Urdu
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 usageEdit

A Chakravati wears a pancha in an ancient style. First century BCE/CE. Amaravathi village, Guntur district. Musee Guimet

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.[3] They also wear a loose, unstitched cloth, shorter than the pancha, on top.

It is the national dress of the Madhesh region of southern Nepal, worn mainly by Nepalis of Madhesi, Tharu and Maithali ethnicity.[4]

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. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was known for wearing a white silk dhoti.[5]

In India, there's a distinction between the lungi, a similar but smaller garment often worn by the lower classes, and the more formal dhoti that is sometimes worn by politicians.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Govind Sadashiv Ghurye (1951) Indian Costume
  3. ^ Cort, John E. (2001). Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India. Oxford University Press. p. 221. ISBN 9780195132342. 
  4. ^ "Nepalese national dresses". 
  5. ^ Koppel, Lily (February 6, 2008). "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Guide On the Beatles' Spiritual Path, Dies". New York Times. p. C.10. 
  6. ^ McLain, Sean (2014-07-23). "No Dhotis Please, We're Indian". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-11-03.