Odhna, Traditional Rajasthani Costume for Women


Odhna is also known as odhni. Odhna is a veil which represents the prolongation a long tradition of wearing lengthy fabric that was preferred in ancient India. The attire covers the entire face of women. It’s like a stole but in Indian style. The Vedic literature shows the use of stole as commonly worn upper garment i.e. uttariya. The same literature also terms this stole or veil as yavanika, avagunthana, nirivigi, mukhapata, sirovas-tra and nimngika.

Odhna is similar to other graceful costumes, which hides the real beauty inside it. The rectangular cloth is around two meter wide and four meters in length. It gives an idea that odhna not only looks beautiful because of its ornamentation and fabric but also for its style of draping. There may be dissimilarities in the fabric used to design it from coarse cotton cloth to fine voile. Moreover, chiffon arc and fine silk can also be used to make the attire.

Odhna is beautified by various ways of ornamentation. Such designs are commonly determined by their specific tradition. In today’s time, it’s rare to see women in odhna in cities but Rajasthani villages still follow the tradition of wearing covered face cloth. Yet women compete with others to wear the most beautiful odhna. Some practices to bring such fine cloth to daily lifestyle include weaving, bandhani, embroidery, and block printing.

With the help of bandhani practice different types of colorful and beautiful odhna are produced in Rajasthan. Many leheriya ways flourish like bhopalshahi, pralapsfwhi, gandadar, rajashahi and samudralehar. Block prints are also used for decorating jaaj bhat, odhni-bhindi bhat, morya, lalar and karna. An outstanding odhna, called as phamri or phavri is designed of fine red voile with the help of a modified practice of block printing known as tinsel printing. Silver or golf flowers are also printed throughout the fabric. Phavri is also a part of wedding costume.

Gota work is generally used on odhna which is the most common type of surface ornamentation. Woven bands of silver and gold make attractive geometrical and floral forms. Such designs arc scattered mainly around the end and the head pieces. Most Rajasthani communities consider this pattern of embroidery. They also ensure to keep in mind their separate form of traditional clothing style. Other types of embroidery used in odhna include khambhiri, mukke-ka-kaam, kaccho bharat, kharak, pakko bharat and suf.

There are some weaves that make exclusive designs on the surface. Brocade method is used in Osval, Rajput and other Rajasthani communities with stunning silk threads in beautiful colors such as violet and dark pink. The significance of odhna depends on the range of draping. Women of Rajput community wear odhni over their head up to the chin. There are some regions in Rajasthan where women wear thirma of white fabric that covers complete body.

Chunri is often used among all types of odhna. Married women wear this type of odhni. Chunri can be seen in dancing women in folk songs. It is commonly red with beautiful designs such as flowers and birds with colorful leaves. Another type of odhna is pila widely worn in Rajasthan. Its base is in yellow and central motif in red. Lotus flower is also added in the costume which is a symbol of fertility and purity. The central flower and borders are red on the base of yellow or pink.

The odhna has a significant place in the culture of Rajasthan. All parts of odhna vary to blend with the subsequent alterations in the status and age of women. Odhna’s fabric is interrelated with the lives of individuals. Specific patterns and colors represent many landmarks of different stages of life. After getting married, the colors and patterns denote the status of women. Odhni in different colors are worn on festivals like Teej and Holi. For instance, phaguniya with its conventional red borders, white base, red central design and others are preferred in Holi.

Odhna is conceived to be the main sign of the presence of females and their social status. In Bishnoi community, married women wear damini and kan-grechi odhna. Married Jat women wear Kara palla odhna. Women of the Meghvai community put on angulha-chhap odhna. Widows in Jat community wear khopra bhat odhna and other communities consider kali jaal bhat, morya bhat and mankhi bhat odhna. Odhni with single color means the wearer girl is still away from puberty, a big bandhni circle at one end of the cloth.