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Dresses of Kashmir

For many years Kashmiri men and women have worn the same style of dress. The Pheran and 'Poots' consist of two gowns, one on top of the other, falling to the feet in the case of a Hindu, worn up to the knees by a Muslim. Muslims wear the sleeves wide and open; Hindus wear them narrow with turned up ends.

Accessories Worn With Attires

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The garments are made of cotton, wool or embroidered silk with the necks closed by a gaily-coloured string or jeweled button. A Pashmina belt goes around the waist. A Mughal type turban, sometimes 20 metres long, completes the costume for men. Most Muslims wear skullcaps, especially the farmers. The headdress of a Kashmiri woman is a brightly coloured scarf.

Traditional Ways To Deal With Winter's Chill

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The traditional way of coping with the bitter cold of a Kashmiri winter is with a "Kangri". A Kangri is an earthenware bowl which filled in a wicker container, is carried in front by one under one's enveloping 'Pheran". Red-hot coals from the potbelly stoves used in houses or houseboats are placed in the Kangri and one has personal, portable central heating! The Pheran channels the heat up to the neck. Kashmiri's often squat to talk or smoke with the Kangri between their feet and the Pheran spread over it.

An equally vital part of a Kashmiri's existence is the "Hookah" Pipe - they're in every shop, in every Shikara. In winter, coals from the Kangri are used to light the pipe.

Dress

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Kashmiri Muslims used to wear the Pheran, a long loose gown hanging down below the knees, a white turban tied on a skull cap, a close-fitting shalwar and lace less shoes called gurgabi. A white piece of material is hung on their shoulders like a stole. Hindu men wear churidar pyjama instead of shalwar. The less affluent Muslims wear skull caps, which looks cute and does not carry any shawl.

Kashmiri women are among the most beautiful in India. They have "an English rosiness of complexion behind the Eastern tan". The colour of their hair ranges from golden red to brunette and that of eyes from green, blue, grey to black. Besides being boats-women and farmers, the women of Kashmir lend a hand to their men-folk at shawl making, embroidery and other handicrafts.

The women wear the Pheran, the voluminous Kashmiri gown, hemmed with a border and hanging in awkward folds. The long, loose Pheran covers their physique no doubt, but does not blunt their physical appeal. Whereas a Muslim woman's Pheran is knee-length, loose and embroidered in front and on the edges, a Hindu woman's Pheran touches her feet. For the sake of smartness and ease it is tied at the waist with folded material called lhungi. The long loose sleeves are fashionably decorated with brocade. With this type of Hindu costume goes the head-dress called taranga, which is tied to a hanging bonnet and tapers down to the heels from behind. The folds of the taranga are made of brightly-pressed lines fastened to a pointed red-coloured and brocaded skull cap with a few gold pins at the sides. Over the head and ears are pieces of muslin embroidered in gold thread . The younger Hindu women, however have taken to the sari, after the 'reform movement' of the thirties. Even then, on the wedding day they have to wear the taranga ceremonially. It is covered with the palav of the bride's wedding sari. Taranga, thus stays as part of the bridal trousseau.

Unlike a Hindu woman's Pheran, which gives her a Roman look, the Muslim woman's Pheran is beautifully embroidered in front. Their head gear, the Kasaba, looks very different from the taranga. It is red in colour, tied turban-like and held tight by an abundance of silver pins and trinkets. It has an overhanging pin-scarf which falls grace fully over the shoulders. A work-a-day shalwar goes with it. Unmarried Muslim girls wear skull caps, embroidered with gold thread and embellished with silver pendants, trinkets and amulets.

With the passage of years, an appreciable change has come about in the dress of the Kashmiri women. Saris, shalwar-kameez, churidars and jeans are becoming popular, yet none of these belong to them as much as the good old Pheran.

Ornaments

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Kashmiri women generally have such love of jewelery that their headgear, ears, necks and arms glisten with ornaments. The typical ornament that Hindu women wear is the dejharoo, a pair of gold pendants, hanging on a silk thread or gold chain which passes through holes in the ears pieced at the top end of the lobes. The dejharoo is the Kashmiri panditani's mangal-sutra. Muslim women wear bunches of ear rings, the weight of which is supported by a thick silver chain. And there are ample bracelets and necklaces. The whole ensemble lends a most artistic effect to the appearance of Kashmiri women.

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