Thanks for All the Saree Love, Now Let’s Encourage Men to Wear Dhotis


Thanks for All the Saree Love, Now Let’s Encourage Men to Wear Dhotis

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Why is it that every Indian woman must be plagued by the words “You look best in a saree” for all their lives? You could be struggling in a hospital gown, minutes away from breathing your last, and the doctor will look at you with concern and announce, “Damn girl, you should die in a saree!”

The Indian man, on the other hand, possesses no such magic garment. His trousers are slipping off because his vanity won’t allow him to accept that his waistline is expanding faster than China is. His pants settle somewhat uneasily on the bum, held up valiantly – and awkwardly – with a belt. But you won’t see too many people telling him, “Beta, dhoti pehno”… So he continues to strut around in pants that somehow create a curve both below the belt and above it.

Women don’t have the privilege of watching the entire world and its aunt minding their own business, especially when it comes to sartorial choices. The judgment can come from someone you know, or don’t care to know. Men or women. It can strike you at any time, and from anywhere. Despite your attempts to shoo it away with dead fish looks, flared nostrils, or reasoning, it returns in new avatars. “Arré beta, you should wear a saree more often. Jeans are not meant for curvy women like you. It’s a family gathering! Tradition is dying because women don’t wear sarees anymore.”

Meanwhile, tradition gives zero fucks about the Indian male not sporting a dhoti. This desi garment, I would argue, also does a fabulous job of covering up the wearers’ disproportionate assets from the hostile gaze. We don’t want our men flaunting their curves either, do we? We need to protect them like they’re nuclear launch codes, or government documents prior to an election. We all know what happens when men wear tight pants and short shorts. They are labeled as attention hungry tramps.

So isn’t it time we stop treating the saree like the sole pallu-bearer of sanskar. It’s time the humble dhoti shares some of the burden. For too long that rectangular white sheet has been deprived of its status as the garment that protects the honor of the Indian male. C’mon desi mards, what’s holding you back from unzipping yourself from your trousered existence? You guys have no idea what you’re missing out on. Unlike boring pants that can be worn just one way, the dhoti’s versatility can put Bollywood superstars to shame. A lot like Rajkummar Rao, it might look simple but it is willing to twist and turn to suit any role you’ve assigned to it.

C’mon desi mards, what’s holding you back from unzipping yourself from your trousered existence?

There’s a dhoti draping style for your “I feel like a Savarna” days and another for you “I feel like flashing days”. If sweating over how to part it and pleat it like an accordion isn’t your idea of a weekend, you could tie it like a sarong. It could also be worn either “full mast” or “half mast” depending on your mood. Go full-mast for a more demure look, and half if you think you’re having a good leg hair day.

There are versions to the dhoti – veshti, chaadra, dhuti, panche, mundu, mardani. It even has a chill avatar – the lungi, which is a perfect fit for the badass in you. You don’t have to restrict yourself to boring neutrals, checks and stripes. With the lungi you can channel your inner Ranveer Singh and go wild with patterns, naughty jungle prints, and colours so bright traffic comes to a halt.

If you are haunted by the thoughts of a wardrobe malfunction, put your fears to rest. Ask any lungi-pro and he’ll tell you, there is an art to tying one. Once you’ve perfected it, even an earthquake can’t shake off a well-tied lungi. Have you ever seen a Punjabi Lion’s forehead crease with worry lines as he jumps up and down in a chaadra doing bhangra?

With the dhoti/lungi you have the option to look hot and feel cool. Imagine biking at full speed in this traditional attire on the highway, with the wind caressing not just your hair. Getting into a heated argument? Don’t lose your cool, just hitch up your dhoti to express displeasure. The sight of your toned legs will stun your opponent into mute submission. Feeling the heat of the Indian summer? Use the ends of a veshti to fan your sweaty parts. So convenient and eco-friendly, no? And you can put your reservations about its suitability in winters aside. If a Scot can survive in his kilt why can’t you?

This one-size-fits-all-bottoms garment is simple, down to earth, and extremely pocket friendly. It comes in tussars, soft cottons, rich silks, and cool linens, unlike your boring pants. So dear desi boy, maybe it’s time to tell Louis Phillipe to take a walk and never come back. Be an Adarsh Mard and do your bit for our sanskriti.