Traditional Costumes of Punjab

The name ‘Punjab’, came from combination of two Persian words, ‘punj’ means five and ‘aab’ means water. The land famous for the five rivers Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum is also famous for its fertile soil.  For the invading armies of central Asia and Europe, Punjab was historically a gateway to India’s wealth.  No wonder Punjab became the melting pot of various cultures.   The social and cultural formation of Punjab is the combination of number of jatis or groups like Parthians, Kushans, Hephthalites and Greeks. This interesting mix of civilisations is evidently visible in their deeply rooted traditions and customs. The costumes of Punjab are unique in style like their dances and music.

Punjab has its distinct language, culture and costumes. Punjabi ethnicity celebrates its distinguished existence through romanticized narratives of its culture and colorful attires.

” Eis Duniya Vitch Jine Risthe, Sab Juthe Te Beroop, Maa Da Rishta Sab To Sachcha , Maa Hai Rab Da Roop”

All worldly relationships, Are false and ugly, the only authentic bond is with the mother, and Mother is the very image of God

Punjabis consider their homeland, Punjab in par with their mother, Wherever they may go around the globe and settle, somewhere deep down in their heart a special place will be reserved for their culture, festivals and family ties.

The Punjabis consider it very pious to perform duties and responsibilities to the family members or to those with whom they are closely related. The family unit plays a foremost responsibility in the traditions and the customs of Punjab. Each member of the family performs their respective duties in a very delicate manner in everyday life and activities. Whether it is marriage, birth, initiation ceremonies, funerals or other societal occasions, the Punjabis remain very traditional .

Punjabi Costumes

salwar and Kameez

Photo of a Hindu Girl Wearing Salwar and Kameez – Photo taken on year 1870 – Courtesy: Wikipedia

salwar kameez modern designs

Salwar Kameez  – Modern Designs – Courtesy:


The Salwar Kameez worn with vivrant duppatta is the common clothing for the women of Punjab. It is a variation of that worn in Afghanistan and is different from sari worn in rest of India .  The dress includes a top and a bottom piece. It is a compulsory traditional costume that comes in bright colors with intricate design works. The women also wear shawl designed with excellent phulkari embroidery.

juhi chawla

Punjabi women historically had a soft corner for jewellery. Especially, during festivals or special occasions like weddings and  religious ceremonies, they wear colorful glass bangles, nose pins, big sized earrings, eye-catching necklaces, anklets, toe rings as well as many other attractive ornaments. Women are rarely found without their traditional steel bangle, Khadas.

The Punjabi men wear turbans or the puggs with loose pants and a collared t-shirt or shirt. However, the traditional costume of men is the pyjama and the kurta. The Punjabi men living in both urban and rural areas love to wear the traditional Punjabi Juttis. Jutti is a traditionally styled shoe.

Punjabi traditional dresses are  a wonderful combination of color, style and comfort. In most of the Punjabi costumes Phulkari is very common. The floral design has made it very special for the costumes of women in Punjab. During traditional ceremonies and festivals women wear an amazing type of Phulkari known as Bagh, enriched with excellent needlework of radiant colors and striking patterns. Phulkari embroidery technique literally means flower work, but usually denotes embroidered shawls and head scarfs.

Phulkani embroidered shawl

Phulkani Embroidered Shawl – Courtesy:

Men generally are found to be dressed in the traditional dress of Kurta and Pajama compared to full sleeve shirt, but without any front opening. Some men are also found to be wearing the lungi or long-established tehmat, with the kurta.

The Punjabi Padgi or Turban

Padgi or the Turban worn by men is a unique headdress considered very special by the Sikh community in Punjab. Around the world,  the Padgi or Turban still remains as a symbol that makes them easily distinguishable from the rest of the crowd. The turbans could be of any color that matches with their dress. Sikhs consider the turban as  a symbol of pride which makes them unique. Most Sikhs grow their body hair without cutting or shaving . However, in the course of time the modern Punjabis shun the custom and cut their hair like other males.

Punjabi Turban

A turban Wearing Sikh

A Video on How to wear a Turban

There is a saying in Punjab, “you can judge a man by his walk, speech and Turban”. Turban represents the essence of a Sikh male. The kind of cloth, the skill in winding the turban, the style in which it is tied can indicate the character of the man. The Sikh Gurus were usually pictured with round free style of turban, starting with a pech (turn, round, layer) at the forehead and building successive pech to cover the head with the rest of the cloth

The traditional Punjabi men never forget to wear traditional shoes called the Jutti, a type of handcrafted footwear typically associated with the Punjabis. Most interestingly, the juttis are without distinction of right or left foot. Over a period of time the juttis acquire the foot sizes, though there are differences between the Juttis of men and women in design. The men’s juttis are extended with a curve at the tip. On the other hand, the one worn by women are extensively embellished.

Baisakhi Dress

Bhangra Dance Performed on VaisakhiBhangra Dance Performed on Baisakhi Day – Courtesy:

The Punjabis are very colorful during their festivals like Baisakhi. They put on dazzling dresses to make the occasion more traditional and outstanding. Apart from Salwar Kamiz the women embellish themselves with various kinds of jewelry.The participants of the bhangra and giddha dance also wear the traditional dress to represent typical Baishakhi fiesta as celebrated in  Punjab.


The Bhangra dress is as vibrant and exciting as the Bhangra dance. The costumes for Bhangra dances expose the prosperous and radiant hues of countryside of Punjab and also the enthusiastic pulse of Punjabi folk culture. The men’s costume for Bhangra is very plain and simple  in rather mild colors.

Look at the constituent parts of the traditional Bhangra dress.

  • A fan-like ornamentation at the top of the turban, called Turla
  • Next is Pag or the turban tied before the show, and different from the traditional turban.
  • The embroidered loose Kurta usually with 4 buttons.
  • Then the decorated loin cloth called chadar or lungi.
  • A waistcoat, without buttons called Jugi
  • The scarves for fingers called Rammal that looks splendid during the hand movements of bhangra performance.
  • Baisakhi Celebration dress
  • Baisakhi Day Celebration Costume : Courtesy:

Though every part of the Bhangra dress is colourful the Pag is the most striking of them. It is additionally decorated by fixing broad golden lace or gota. Several other dancers are sometimes found with colorful chunni tied around their waist.

Traditional Gidda Dress (for Women)

Traditional gidda dress for women is quite graceful and also comfortable for them to perform the dance with ease. Giddha dress is rather simple, the rural women are found to wear them almost every day. The bright colors of the dress are only the visible differences between the gidda dress and the usual wears. The ornaments they wear complements the dress.

Giddha Costume

Giddha Dance Costume   –  Courtesy:

The constituent parts of the Gidda Dress

  • Richly embroidered Churni or Dupatta
  • Shirt or Kameez
  • Baggy Pants or Salwaar
  • Jewelry for the forehead or Tikka
  • Dangling earrings or Jhumka
  • Braid tussle or Paranda
  • Suggi-Phul on head
  • A long necklace or Raani-Haar
  • A golden necklace studded with gem Haar-Hamela
  • Upper arm ornament or Baazu-Band
  • Anklets or Pazaibs

A Punjabi wedding is an occasion for many to display the exemplary designs and modern trends in the otherwise traditional Punjabi costume. Every wedding ritual is conducted wearing  special costumes. “Kurmai,” The wedding veil or Chunni is given by the Groom’s family after the engagement. All through the days of ceremony , the traditional costumes are meaningfully presented by family members of both the Groom and Bride.

The Panj Kakars

Khalsa brothers

Sikh men wearing 5K’s – Courtesy:

The Panj Kakars („Five K)‟s of Baptised Sikhs were initiated on Vaisakhi Day in 1699. 5 Ks were incorporated as a mandate for baptized ( Pure or Genuine ) Sikhs. The Panj Kakars („Five K‟s‟) are five articles of clothing that a Sikh is supposed to have on his person at all times. The Panj Kakars were prescribed by Guru Gobind Singh.

TheFive K’s are supposed to keep the Sikhs united in the pursuit of the aims and ideals of the

Guru. They enable them to keep their vows made at the time of Amrit initiation. TheSikhs are known to be ready to face torture and death rather than cut their hair or remove any of the sacred symbols.


Keeping one‟s hair in its natural, unspoiled state by not shaving or cutting hair as removing hair and is seen as maintaining the perfection of God’s creation.


The comb is necessary to keep the hair clean and tidy. A Sikh must comb his hair twice a day and cover it with a turban, tying it daily. Wearing a turban declares sovereignty, dedication, self-respect, courage and piety.


The iron bracelet symbolizes restraint from inharmonious deeds. When Sikhs look at the Kara, is made to think twice before doing anything wrong. The round bangle also carries a message that life is never ending.


The soldier’s shorts must be worn at all times. It reminds the Sikh, willingness to be ready at a moment’s notice for battle or for defense. Apart from its moral significance, it ensures briskness during action and freedom of movement at all times.


The sword is the emblem of courage and a weapon of self-defense. It symbolizes dignity and self-reliance, the capacity and readiness to always defend the weak and the oppressed.

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