The state of Manipur commonly referred to as the ‘bejeweled land’ will definitely catch your fancy with the serene and virgin beauty of its surrounding nature and quaint, uncomplicated lifestyle. The traditional Manipuri attires make an integral part of the Manipuri lifestyle which prioritizes on the functionality and comfort factors. The beauty of the traditional Manipuri dresses lies in its simplicity. The creative way in which patterns and designs are used on these garments accounts for their immense popularity worldwide.
Related: Traditional Dress of Manipur
There are three main communities namely Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis in the state of Sikkim and the traditional dressing of this state replicates their social and ethnic lifestyle. The Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis have distinctive traditional costumes respectively and this does add to the diversity of the traditional attire seen in the state. One cannot miss but notice that in different cities of this state there is presence of natives from other cities of India especially the Marwaris, Bengalis, Biharis, South Indians and Punjabis. These people have come and settled in Sikkim mainly because of their jobs or business.
The major types of traditional dresses of Manipur are-
Manipuri dresses for women
The traditional dresses of women in Manipur consist of some major components such as Innaphi, Phanek, Mayek Naibi, Kanap Phanek. Innaphi is a typical Manipuri shawl worn by the women of Manipur. Phanek is a kind of hand woven wrap-around skirt quite similar to the very popular ‘Sarong’. Traditional wear Phanek comes in stripes and block colors. Daily wear phaneks are usually devoid of bold prints and floral prints. Apart from the daily wear Phanek, there are other types such as Mayek Naibi and Kanap Phanek. Mayek Naibi comes in bright colors and is adorned with attention drawing horizontal stripes. Women flaunt these gorgeous Phaneks to look mesmerizingly beautiful. Kanap phanek, a kind of skirt stitched out of the traditional Meithei Community cloth. Women also wear dresses such as Chin phi and Lai phi during rituals. Lai phi is a beautiful white piece of cloth bordered most intricately with yellow while Chin phi is a dress paired with an intricately embroidered phanek. Manipuri brides don’t forget to flaunt the muslin Innaphi woven out of delicate cotton yarns.
Manipuri dresses for men
Manipuri men wear jacket, turban & dhoti. A special kind of ritual dhoti referred to as Khamen Chapta is worn by men belonging to the upper strata of society. In the yesteryears, the king often awarded khamen chapta to a handful of people. Manipuri grooms usually wear dhoti-Kurta and pagri. The royal costume worn by the king of Manipur was referred to as Ningthoupee. Warriors wore an attire called Zamphie.
Manipuri festival dresses
The true beauty of Manipuri costumes may be reflected through the various festival attires. During the Raas leela festivals, attires like Potlois and Kumins are flaunted. Also, during the various festival-related dance performances, costumes like Koks and Phuris are worn. Furthermore, there are some distinguished tribal costumes of Manipur such as Ningthoupee, Lmaphie, Saijounba and Phiranji.
Related: Festive Season of Ethnic Wear
Manipuri patterns on costumes
Related: Major Types of Manipuri embroidery
Modern Manipuri dresses
The traditional attires of Manipur have yielded place to modern attires under the influence of the changing times. Spread of Christianity and westernization has made Manipur people quite fashion conscious. T-shirts, shirts, jeans, jackets and skirts are very much in vogue nowadays in the state of Manipur. Also, many modern versions of traditional attires have come up today. For instance, these days Innaphis are often paired with the trendy modern skirt.
Handloom Manipuri dresses
Handloom weaving is an innate skill that inhabitants of almost all Northeastern states possess and Manipur is not an exception in this respect. Handlooms often make family business in the state of Manipur. Commercialization of Manipuri handloom has caused a spurt in its demand. Women are mainly engaged in the tasks of weaving and the materials used for weaving include cotton as well as kabrang.
The traditional dress for females of Lepcha community is Dumdyam or Dumvum (it’s a comfy and suave ankle-length dress which is worn like Indian traditional saree), Tago (a loose fit cozy blouse), Nyamrek (is a belt) and Taro (a cap). Almost all the females in Sikkim can be seen wearing this dress. Lepcha women decorate themselves with traditional ornaments like Namchok (earrings), Lyak (necklace), Gyar (bracelet).
The Bhutia community are inhabitants of Tibet who have long back settled in Sikkim. The females of this community wear Kho or Bakhu, Hanju (is a full-sleeve loose-fitting blouse of silk fabric), Kushen (a jacket), Shambo (a cap of specific design) and Shabchu (the shoes). The females love to accessorize themselves with Yencho (the earrings), Khao (necklace), Phiru (ornament made up of pearls), Diu (a gold bangle), and Joko (the ring). Gold is an obsession for Bhutia people and most of their ornaments are made up of 24K pure gold.
Nepali females of Sikkim flaunt themselves in their traditional costumes which are colourful and vibrant. Pharia, the saree, sure does enhances the beauty of the Nepali females with the vibrant colour and beautiful patterns. Chaubandi Cholo, a loose fitting blouse adds to the look for sure. Tharo Cholo is one more variety of blouses worn by the women of this community. Hembari is a piece of cloth used to delicately cover the upper part of the body and is as colourful and vibrant as any other attire.
The most common traditional ornaments worn by the females of this community are Sir-Bandi or tiara (a head gear), Kantha (necklace), Naugeri (pearl-necklace), Charanihari (necklace), Tilhari (green bead necklace with gold pendant mainly worn by married females), Bulaki (nose-ring), Dungri (nose-pin), Tik-mala, Chandrahar, Cheptison (earrings), Gadwari (an earring), a silver Chura (bracelet), and Kalli (thick silver anklet).
Lepcha males’ traditional costume is called Thokro-Dum, which consists of white pajama (calf-length), Yenthatse (a shirt) and Shambo (a cap). The traditional attire of Bhutia males consists of Kho or Bakhu (a loose piece of cloth which is tied at one side of the neck and waist with a belt). Bhutia males also wear Jya Jya (a waist coat), Yenthatse (a shirt), Kera (cloth belt) and Shambo (cap). Nepali males of Sikkim follow their own culture and tradition with respect to their costumes. They wear Shurval (a churidar pajama), Daura (shirt), Aaskot (a waist coat) and Patuki (a belt).
Related: North East Traditional Costumes
We sure cannot deny that with colourful hues and wide variety of traditional dresses inhabitants of Sikkim do add on to the beauty of the state.