Uttariya and Sovle (Shawl and Dhoti)

20th century CE

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

Dhoti (preferably of red or white colour), uttariya and topi are the traditional dress for the janeu or Upanayana ceremony. Such unstitched garments are considered auspicious and pure and therefore used in religious ceremonies even in present times.

In Hinduism, Upanayana is the initiation ritual by which initiates are invested with a sacred thread to symbolize the transference of spiritual knowledge. The sacred thread (Sanskrit: yajnopavitam or Upavita) is a thin sacred cord, composed of distinct cotton strands, worn to symbolize the permission given to the wearer to perform sandhyavandanam and recite the Gayatri mantra. Threads are entwined into strong cords, binding the wearer to tradition and sacred vows.

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  • Title: Uttariya and Sovle (Shawl and Dhoti)
  • Date Created: 20th century CE
  • Location: India
  • Provenance: Gift of Aarti Mehta from her collection on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Museum Society of Bombay; Gift of Indu P. Nene
  • Type: Shawl, Unstitched Cloth
  • Medium: Silk
  • Region: Western India
  • History of Style of Technique: The birth of a child brings great joy as it ensures the growth of the family tree. His arrival in civilised society is marked with a gift of a soft mulmul zabla. According to Indian tradition, it is considered inauspicious to buy any new clothes for the new born. In fact at first the baby is made to wear old clothes of a child from the family. The used clothing is soft for the tender baby skin and it is believed that through these clothes the positive family vibes and values would pass onto the baby. The arrival of a baby is remembered by its tiny clothes; a marriage ceremony by the carefully wrapped up wedding attire; parents are remembered through the garments they pass on to their children. This is perhaps one of the reasons why we treasure heirlooms. The tiny dresses worn by our children hold sweet memories. Treasured more than any expensive garment, they are a strong symbol of love. Earlier, they were stitched and embellished by mothers, aunts, and grandmothers for the child but today the trend of such home-stitched garments is on the decline, being replaced by the variety of readymade clothing available in the market.
  • Accession Number: 2013.22, 2013.24


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