There are no rigid rules concerning dress, however there
are some traditional practices which may vary from region to region in the
Indian Subcontinent. The traditional Hindu dress for women is a Sari or a
Shalwar-Kameez. It is about personal choice and expression, some may adopt a
western style of dress for work.
The Hindu women prefer to wear a saree or a salwar kameez for any religious
functions at home or outside. For example, during the various festivals
celebrated in India like Diwali, Karwa Chauth, Durga Puja, Pongal, Bihu,
Baisakhi, Dandiya, Ganesh Festival, we see Indian women wearing their
traditional dress. For example:
- We will never see a Bengali women wearing a salwar kurta on Durga
Puja. She will always wear her traditional saree.
- Similarly, an Assamese lady will wear mekhala Chaddar on Bihu.
- A North Indian Hindu lady will wear a new saree or salwar kameez on
Diwali or her bridal dress on Karwa Chauth.
- South Indian Hindu ladies will wear traditional Kanjeevaram Silk
saree or other South Indian Silk saris or the typical white saree with
golden border for Pongal and other religious functions.
- The Gujarati ladies, the Rajasthani ladies prefer to wear ghagra
cholis for the festivals in their states and so on.
Every state in India has its own culture and tradition and accordingly
the Hindu ladies wear their traditional outfit.
How to distinguish a Hindu married women from others?
Besides the traditional dresses, a Hindu married woman is identified from
married women of other religions through some accessories like:
Sindoor is a red powder used by married Hindu women. During the marriage
ceremony, the groom applies sindoor to the parting of the bride's hair to
show that she is now a married woman. Subsequent sindoor is applied by the
wife as part of her dressing routine. Once widowed, a woman is not supposed
to wear sindoor.
Hindu married ladies applied it on their foreheads to symbolize marriage.
The colour is always red. In the ancient times, Indian Bindi was worn as a
tradition mark. But, today it has become more of a fashion style with
various colour and designs. Sometimes the bindi is a symbol of religious
affiliation, or a mark of a recent religious ceremony; sometimes the bindi
is mere beautification. Today, even unmarried girls or a widow can wear a
bindi. However, a widow cannot wear sindoor in the parting of her hair.
Mangalsutra is not just a jewellery item--it has lots of significance to an
Indian Hindu married woman. It is known by different names in different
states of the country. In south it is known as Thaali and in north India it
is Mangalsutra. It is considered auspicious for married women to wear
mangalsutra after marriage. The most common type is made of two strings of
small black beads with a locket or pendant. But now the trend is to wear
short length with single string. But the black beads remain constant. Only
Hindu married ladies can wear a Mangalsutra.
Worn on the wrist, bangles are believed to be protective bands and Hind
women always wore them as symbolic guards over their husbands. As with other
ornaments, bangles today are worn by women of all ages all over India and
are made of silver, gold, wood, glass and plastic, among other materials.
Most married women wear glass bangles. However, in the eastern state of
Bengal, they wear one shell bangle, called shakha, and one coral bangle,
called paula, on each hand as a symbol of marriage. In the west, a bride
from Punjab wears a set of ivory bangles on each hand for 21 days, six
months, or a year after marriage, depending on family tradition. And a
Rajasthani woman wears ivory bangles from her wrist to her upper arm for the
rest of her life or till her husband is alive, although now this is rare.