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India is home to several tribes following different rituals and customs. One such custom is marriage, which holds a divine place in our society. A marriage in our country takes place with huge pomp and show. Its a very special event especially in a girl’s life. Its the day when she looks her best. With beautiful attire and jewellery she becomes the centre of attraction of this event. There are certain customs to be followed mandatorily for a woman after marriage and these customs vary with different tribes. Sindoor, chuda or bangles, Nath or the nose pin, all these are the jewels of a married woman. So is Rangwali Pichora, whose origin lies in the Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region.
Rangwali Pichora is a veil or in Indian terms a dupatta which is an important add on to a married woman’s attire. It is a bright saffron/yellow and red dyed dupatta worn over a saree. No matter how simple the saree is, this attractive veil called Rangwali Puchora enhances its beauty. When the parents bid farewell to their daughter after her marriage, they present Pichora to her which she carries with utmost grace. She not only wears it on the day of her wedding but on every special occasion and festival she witness in her lifetime. The auspicious symbols printed on the dupatta are very significant. They not only add to the beauty but primarily gives this attire a deep spiritual and emotional connection, a ‘suhagan’ has for her husband. The married women of the Kumaon tribe wear this veil, which carries a prayer for the well being of her husband. Moreover the women wearing this attractive attire look like goddesses.
The method in which this significant dupatta is prepared is very interesting. A white wax or chicken cloth with dimensions of a standard dupatta is taken and is dyed with saffron/yellow colour. The saffron/yellow dye is prepared either with kilmode root or turmeric. Red dye is prepared by mixing honey, raw turmeric and lemon juice in a copper vessel. The mixture is left overnight. Now with this red dye, patterns are made on the yellow coloured dupatta. At the centre of the fabric a Swastik is drawn. Swastik is the symbol which stands for purity. Sun, Shankh, a bell with the symbol Om and goddesses are drawn in the four quadrants of the Swastik. These symbols holds auspicious significance. Sun is the symbol of power, Shankh produces a sound which is said to remove negativity from the environment, Goddesses are worshipped for prosperity, and bell is used in every form of worship. The symbol Om is also printed at the centre of the Swastik, its the sound of the universe, the ultimate truth. The rest of the dupatta is printed with dots which are coin sized. To give Pichora a beautiful and traditional look the border is stitched with attractive laces. The artisans who prepare the Pichoras never disappoint their buyers. They bear the credit of carrying this tradition with pride and swear by passing it to their coming generations.
With modernisation synthetic dyes are also used to give beautiful shades to the pichora but the native communities prefer the age old natural dyes. These bright colours used in dying the veils are my personal favourites because they give a glow and add confidence to one’s personality. Since the material used is wax or chicken, Pichora is light weighted and easy to carry.
Machine-made variants of Pichora are easily available but it is hard to the traditional handmade pieces. More than 40 varieties of pichoras can be found in markets in Kumaon region of the state. If you are staying away from Uttarakhand, you can connect to your culture and traditions through this beautiful attire.