What is a dhoti?
The dhoti, also known as panche, vesti, dhuti, mardani, chaadra, dhotar, panchey, is a traditional men's garment worn in the Indian subcontinent. It is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth, usually around 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted at the waist.
The word dhoti is derived from 'dhauti' in Sanskrit meaning to "cleanse or wash". In the context of clothing, it simply refers to the cleansed garment which was worn as part of everyday attire
The dhoti evolved from the ancient antriya which was passed through the legs, tucked at the back and covered the legs loosely, then flowed into long pleats at front of the legs, the same way it is worn today.
The pancha is worn by many orthodox Jain men when they visit the temple for puja; unstitched clothing is believed by some Jains to be "less permeable to pollution" and therefore more appropriate for religious rituals than other garments.
They also wear a loose, unstitched cloth, shorter than the pancha, on top.
It is the national dress of the Madhesh region of southern Nepal.
Hare Krishna, known for its distinctive dress code, prompts Western adherents to wear pancha, usually of saffron or white cloth folded in a traditional style. In India, there's a distinction between the lungi, a similar but smaller garment often worn by people at their home as it is more casual and comfortable than dhoti, and the more formal dhoti that is sometimes worn by politicians.