A pair of kurta-pajama forms the quintessential traditional wear for men from most parts of India. Bengal too, has its own version of this favourite ethnic attire. Interestingly, Bengalis refer to a kurta as ‘Panjabi’, possibly after the men from Punjab from whom they borrowed this outfit!
Traditional kurtas from Bengal come in a variety of fabrics – cotton, silk-cotton, pure silk, tussar silk or garad silk. The cotton and silk-cotton ones are good for casual wear. They are usually in plain or printed fabrics and may have some light embroidery around the neck and buttonholes. Batik-painted designs can also be found on the cotton kurtas. Pure silk kurtas are more gorgeous, and are available in a range of colours from light and elegant to bright and flashy. Intricately embroidered patterns add to the brilliance of these kurtas. They are suitable for wearing to festivities and celebratory events. Tussar silk and garad silk kurtas come in natural shades of beige, cream, honey and tawny and have a golden sheen. The fabric of these kurtas is very fine and has a paper-like texture. They are usually adorned with embroidered patterns ranging from light designs only around the neck, to heavy, ornate ones decorating the entire from of the kurta. These kurtas are apt for wearing to religious and social functions, such as pujas and weddings. A tussar or garad silk kurta and dhoti is the conventional attire for a Bengali groom at his wedding.
Traditionally, kurtas were worn over pajamas or dhotis. Today, they are often paired with trousers or even a pair of jeans, making them suitable for formal and semi-formal wear.