The Punjab is a vast alluvial land that is divided between India and Pakistan. It has a history dating back to thousands of years. The immensely fertile soils of the Punjab are home to over 100 million people. The diversity of culture is represented in its dresses too, especially those worn by women.
Punjabi dresses can be divided into three categories. The first and most popular is the Shalwar Kameez that is equally popular in India and Pakistan. Punjabi women wear long Kameez, or tops, along with flowing pants or Shalwars. They cover their heads with a shawl known as Dupatta. Shalwar Kameez protects them from the summer heat as well as chilling winters. It is also an excellent work dress and helps them in working on fields or tending to animals without any difficulties, a greater flexibility of movement is also present there.
Lacha or Dhoti is a long skirt popular among women living in the villages. It is a popular summer dress as it keeps the body well-ventilated and reduces perspiration. Both the Shalwar and Lacha are usually made from cotton or silk and with minimal embellishments. This is not the case with the Kameez though that comes with intricate needlework, embroidery, mirror work and other embellishments.
The third type of dress worn by Punjabi women is Choli and Ghagra. It is popular among those living in the Cholistan desert of Pakistan and areas adjacent to the Rajasthan desert of India. Ghagra is more like a flowing skirt whereas Choli is a shorter version of Kameez. Both the Choli and Ghagra are made of a patchwork of fabrics with embroidery and other design features. They also come in bright colours that create a rich contrast against the dull backdrop of sand dunes.
Punjabi dresses have also found their way in the Western couture. You can find rich design patterns with captivating embroidery at designer stores as well as ethnic bazaars.