Ghaghra, Traditional Rajasthani Costume for Women


Ghagra is beautiful attire for women in India. Though Ghagra is popular throughout the country, its root belongs to Rajasthan. In early days, there was a long skirt known as ghaghri worn by women. Females wore a lower draping garment. Later on the dress converted into a narrow skirt, assembled and held by a girdle at the waist. Ghaghri was made of 5 ½ meters of fabric similar length to antariya. Signs of the same clothing can be seen in paintings dating back Gupta period or Kushana, and also in Buddhist sculptures. That was a representation of present day’s ghaghra.

Ghagra is also called by other names in India, as per the particular regions and their styles. Some of its names include jaghanamsuka, amsuka, antariya and ambara. Lehanga is another term used to call the long length skirt. Lehanga is commonly referred to a paneled skirt. This type of long skirt is also widely used by women in Northern India. A wide range of lehangas and ghagras are designed by fashion designers. To stay modernized popular designers come up with beautiful outfits.

Western influences and changes in fashions have converted the simple dress into a full length skirt that looks attractive and vibrant. Differences in ghaghra can be seen as per the specific region with various shapes like triangular and rectangular. The costume is known for art and poetry as well. In popular paintings as well ghaghra can be seen. They paintings are exhibited in many museums.

Ghaghra is worn in various parts of India. It is mostly widespread in Rajasthan and its bordering areas. Ghaghra is worn with a odhni or kanchli. There are times when a phetiya or patka is worn. This stops the movement of this costume and shows the status of women in society. It can be found in early Rajput sculptures and paintings as well. Ghaghra is a long skirt with a flared gored. The dress is wrapped in legs as per the standards of propriety in various ethnic groups.

In Rajasthani custom, ghaghra is inspired by romance and keenness for work in painters, poets and folk singers. Kali kali ma gher, gherdar, ghumerdar ghaghra and assikali ko ghaghro are romantic aspects derived from Rajasthani folk songs, depicting the splendor of ghaghra. Beautiful central figure is shown in paintings wearing large embroidered ghaghra. Fine-looking ornamentations, exclusive embroidery and costly fabric reflect the social status of women.

The larger the volume of ghaghra, the more amount of fabric the dress comprises and represents affluence and physical strength of the wearer. A horizontal line is stitched all along the hem to accommodate the flare and figure of the skirt. This is called as seva, which is tucked in the fabric so the skirt stroll the ground. It is possible to make changes in the length whenever needed, keeping in mind the longevity of the garment.

Kalidar ghaghra is one of the most worn ghaghras in Rajasthan. The long costume has various vertical pleats. It appears alike a gored skirt, wherein gore is in a triangular way, called as kali. Many kali are sewn to make a ghaghra that flares at hem. Additional fullness is required at the waist. The number of panels may differ in ghaghra from 20 to 100. On the wedding day, the mother-in-law gifts an ooshak to the bride. Poshak has small gold bells sewn in its hem.

All flared sections are attached to other flared sections. The flared piece is assembled at the waist and tightly sewn with a belt. This best is made of fabric and the dress has a narrow yellow piping attached to the long skirt. Tape is also used to tightly tie the belt at the waist. The lower border of kalidar ghaghra is beautifully designed with various bindings.

Married women have 2 bindings in their ghaghra known as the broad strip that varies in width. Red is the most used color in broader piping. Saffron is frequently used for piping called as guna. Color differences are prevalent in outfits of Rajasthan. High status women from upper class commonly wear Magazi.

Pat ghaghra is designed of many rectangular fabric panels, each one of them sewn together from one side to other. Knife pleats or gathers are sewn at the waist to provide fullness to the skirt. It has similar finishing like kalidar ghaghra. Generally satin and silk is used for finishing process with heavy ornaments along with metal embroider. Silks and satin are fine fabrics that tend for skirmishing but still used to design pat ghaghra. Pat ghaghra is commonly worn by widows and elderly women. This is because of the fact that the limited ornament and fabric is needed to design the dress. In some communities like Maheshvari, it is worn by women in daily wear.

Kalipatti ghaghra is a beautiful arrangement of kalidar ghaghra and fabric. The upper half of this costume is designed of panels, while the lower part is a straight portion of fabric. Due to this every movement becomes easier. It is usually worn in communities such as Rajput, Bishnoi and Jat in Rajasthan. Dhabla is mostly worn by women of communities like Kumhar, Jat, Gujar and Bishnoi. Dhabla is also called as ligra and saadi. Fabric is woven in a way that is like of pattu weaving. There are 2 narrow strips woven on pit loom, connected to the length like selvedge can be seen on the upper and lower borders.