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.
Kashmiri women generally have such love of jewellery 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.