Panche or Dhoti

Panche’, another name for Dhoti, is a rectangular piece of cloth of 4.5m metres long. This non-stitched cloth is wrapped around the legs and knotted around the waist. Panche is aesthetically worn by the men of Karnataka. This attire showcases an ethnic blend of tradition and modernity. Karnataka men pair their panches with a shirt to various occasions. In India, dhoti is predominant in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Odissa, Konkan and Goa.

Origin and History

The origin of Panche sketches out its existence and emergence centuries aback, wherein temple priests of Karnataka patronized this attire especially while conducting religious and ritualistic pujas and occasions. The traditional colors which were linked to this traditional attire were either of pure white or saffron. It was also witnessed that the great Mahatma Gandhi wore this outfit on different public occasions even when he traveled abroad. It was also worn by the devotees and priests of the ‘Hare Krishna’ sect, and gradually went onto the commoners, as this attire became a fashion trend in South India.

Style & Attire

This traditional attire of Karnataka is donned by wrapping the dhoti around the hips and tucking the ends to secure it in place. To enhance the look, an extra piece of cloth also accompanies the Panche, which is fashionably draped across the body and fastens the loose end corners of the cloth onto the shoulder. For comfort or during work, men sometimes fold the panche in half which reveals the legs.

Karnataka Panche (Image: wikipedia)


The innovative wind of technology has blown over the state of Karnataka with the gliding years. Technological improvements and advancements have certainly turned the tables of the textile industries in Karnataka by setting the creative ball moving onto superior heights. More textures of fabric have been introduced with every passing year. Present priorities are blended with the layers of tradition to achieve the acceptance of the costume from the advancing generations.

More of silk has been introduced to the fashion world of Panche, which are preferred in most of the occasions. The wearers are accompanying the Panche with decorative and stylish kurtas and shirts. Rich colors and delicate embroideries at the borders in threads of gold and silver are being popularized. The cotton version of these costumes besides being worn during festive and religious occasions is also being considered for daily usage. An Angavastram, a cloth made either of cotton or silk is worn along with the Panche which is positioned over the neck portion, covering one shoulder of the body.

Image: chughtaimuseum

Image: chughtaimuseum

Global Presence

The cotton panche is lighter and softer, which acts as a soothing factor to the wearer for every season of the year, especially during the summers. Hence this outfit is readily accepted and embraced by people as well as international markets across the globe.

Wearing Panche

Gold embroidered Thundu (angavastram) is generally paired with the Panche, along with Indian mojaris, gold plated watches, rings and bracelets, thus glamorizing the entire appearance.

Basically, the bridegrooms of the south Indian wedding or the main lead hosting the religious ceremony or pujas have to wear this attire as a symbol of culture and tradition. Besides, this attire can also be worn for occasions and celebrations as well. Today, the availability of this attire in different comfortable fabrics makes it easier to be worn on an everyday basis and for semi-formal occasions as well.

Interesting Facts and Comparisons

  • Often the men of South India have a habit of folding up the Panche in half, which reveals the lower portion of legs starting from the knees. However, this style is considered to be inappropriate, especially in front of the ladies, and hence the Panche has to be worn in a loosened form in front of the elders and ladies, which covers the legs completely.
  • Western Jeans and trousers have always been standing in the competitive league against the dhoti apparels. However, the traditional and cultural essence of these dhoti costumes like Panche, sets itself apart from the rest.


Categories:   Attires, Clothing Styles & Drapes