A dhoti is a traditional Indian garment worn by men on both informal and formal occasions. It is a piece of unstitched cloth approximately 5 yards long, tied around the waist and the legs. It is most often white or cream colored cotton but can be silk or embroidered with gold at the edges.
It is known by different names in different Indian regional languages, such as mundu in Malayalam, pancha in Telugu, laacha in Punjabi, and veshti in Tamil. The style of draping the dhoti also differs. The following is the classic South Indian way to tie a dhoti.
Tying a Dhoti South Indian Style
Take the cloth and fold it in half to reduce its overall length. Hold it behind you around your waist, keeping the left side slightly shorter but long enough to wrap around your opposite hip (but do not wrap it yet). The cloth should be at least at your ankle in length.
Keeping hold of the left side with your left hand, bring the right side across to your left side, keeping it straight and not shortening its length. Tuck the top edge against your waist at the hip and hold it there with your right thumb.
Crunch up the width of the remaining cloth that extends beyond your thumb. Make the folds accordion-like. Each fold will be approximately the width of your three middle fingers. Use these fingers to tuck each fold before you make the next one. You will make approximately three such folds, though this will vary according to your waist size.
Hold the accordion folded section out away from your body to shake out any creases and to make sure the length of the garment hasn’t decreased.
Hold this folded section against your waist and bring the left side tightly over it, flush with the top edge beyond the accordion section. About three inches of the accordion folded section should peep out and slump over top of the band formed by the left side of wrapped cloth.
Tuck the top corner of the left side into the band at your right side.
Take the accordion folds flopping over the band on the left and roll them over so they are hidden. Roll the rest of the waist band across the front.
While many Indian men do not wear underwear while wearing a dhoti, it is also common to do so.
The higher you keep the accordion folded section before you roll it, the less likely you are to trip up on the hem while you walk or climb stairs.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images