Dresses of Garhwal

The people of Garhwal wear a wide variety of dresses. These are influenced by the variables listed below: 
(A) Traditions (primarily governing designs and decorative motifs)
(B) Locally available materials
(C) Working habits of the people
(D) Climatic conditions (main temperature)
Dresses do not vary widely with respect to caste and religion. They have evolved due to a combination of the factors listed above. The clothes for the womenfolk are suited to working in the fields. These are worn in a way that they do not become entangled in the bushes while walking through the forests. However, economic status does have a bearing on the dress of the people. In towns and cities like Dehradun, Rishikesh and Srinagar , dresses have changed due to the influence of western culture. Menfolk who return from the plains bring the tradition of wearing well tailored dresses.

Nanda Devi Raj Jat 2000

On the basis of the dresses worn by the people, Garhwal may be divided into the following regions or zones:
1. Upper Garhwal
This zone consists of the tracts lying above an elevation of about 2300 mts. and extends to the upper limit of human habitation. The upper reaches of Garhwal are inhabited by tribes such as the Bhotias and Gujars. The cold season is very severe and heavy snowfall is received in this tract. The Bhotias wear clothes made of goat/sheep wool which is locally woven by them.
The men folk wear loose trousers over which they put on a loose gown, girt around the waist with a woollen cloth called patta and a cap of wool on the head. A loose undergarment of wool is worn by the women instead of trousers. The upper garments resemble those of men. The womenfolk also put on woollen skirts with a white woollen waist coat. Woollen clothes are rarely washed and the clothes are worn till the end of their useful lives.
Clothes made of cotton are not worn. Nowadays, in large Villages, one may come across people wearing synthetic trousers, shirts and coats.
2. Middle Garhwal
This zone covers the middle hills of Garhwal between elevations of 1000 and 2300 mts. Wool, hemp and cotton are used for clothing in the middle valleys of the rivers Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Yamuna. The males put on close fitting trousers and a buttoned up long coat or achkan. They may sport a Gandhi cap on their heads. The women- folk put on a long skirt or ghaghrai; a type of blouse, and a scarf like cloth is tied around their heads.
The grazer communities of middle Garhwal put on a type of sleeveless unstitched gown that extends to just below the knee. It is made of goat wool. In the recent past, clothes like shirts, trousers and coats have been adopted by men. The sari and blouse, or the pyjama and kurta suits are now being worn by women in the urban and semi-urban centres of Garhwal.
3. Lower Garhwal
This zone includes all areas below an elevation of about 1000 mts. Lower Garhwal is relatively more developed and the people have adopted dresses worn in the plains and western countries. The men-folk put on shirts, trousers, coats, bush-shirts, and safari suits. The women wear the sari and blouse, as also pyjama-kurta suits. The impact of western dresses is more in this zone. The younger generation has taken to jeans and other western clothes in a big way.Persons who have retired from government service (e.g. army) wear well-tailored clothes.

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