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Understanding Turban

By Vikas Jha( 09 th July, 2008)

Turban, also known as Pagdi in Hindi, is strangely related with pride of man in India. Turban is ubiquitous head accessory in north India, especially in Rajasthan. Even in the big cities like Jaipur or Udaipur, a man without sporting his turban is not considered to be formally dressed. Turban is also associated with the status of a man. Even pagdi or turban inspired lyricists to write patriotic songs, especially in the pre independence days. The elders of a family often advise their children to safeguard their turban.

Turban in Rajasthan is an important aspects of man's dress code. Sikh community also have religious significance of turban. In Punjab, turban is known as safa or pagdi, also an accessory that exuberantly sport for ceremonial occassions such as weddings or in any festival.

The significance of turban is different in Rajasthan. It is more of a tradition and culture more than religion. It becomes a colourful and vibrant part of their daily attire. It is a common site in villages of Rajasthan when people are seen in vibrant and huge complicated turbans. Turban orginated in the Rajput families where it was an ritual for men to wear at any special occasion. Even children were also sported with colourful turbans.

Now a days, pagdi tradition has been reduced to only villagers, yet in any major festival or wedding ceremony people sport with this head accessory. Rajasthani turbans can be weaved with as long as 82 feet long and eight inches wide piece of cloth, also serves as a pillow or a cover during a nap. On ocassions, it was also used by thirsty travellers to draw water from the well.

It is estimated that there are approximately 1000 styles and types of turbans in Rajasthan, so much so that the style of tying it can change every 15 kilometers in the countryside. Turban tying also an art that require significant practice. In Rajasthan, turban indicates where its wearer comes from, what he does for a living and what position he enjoys in society.

Today, cultural norms are being changed drastically but still Rajasthani people have anchored their traditions and culture. It is undoubtedly a complex and colourful symbol of a proud heritage.

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