Jun 07, 2021
What is a Sherwani and When is it Worn?
A Sherwani is a jacket-like piece of apparel made with silk fabric as well as hand-crafted embroidery. Depending on the occasion, it is often worn with stoles and turbans.
It is a well-known item that is usually worn by men in Pakistan, India and neighbouring countries. For most individuals, this beautiful dress has a cultural significance; hence, it is often adorned uniquely.
The History of a Sherwani
Historically, sherwanis were first worn by the noblemen of the Mughal Empire in the 19th century. Some historians even dated the use of sherwanis to the 16th and 17th centuries in some parts of central Asia. Towards the same time, it was popularly associated with the nobles of the Delhi Sultanate. At the inception of its use, it was deeply associated with the Muslim aristocracy.
However, sherwanis were seemingly unsuitable for many people within the aforementioned regions because of their extreme heat. Nonetheless, many noblemen wore them as a symbol of royalty.
Meanwhile, masses in India, Turkey, Persia, and other areas didn’t wear sherwanis. According to historians, this could be due to a few reasons. Foremost, most of them were manual labourers who worked under the scorching sun. Hence, it would be inconvenient for them to wear sherwanis while working. It was also suggested that the dress was associated with nobility during this period; thus, masses would not deem it fit to wear sherwanis. Other historians felt sherwanis were unsurprisingly too expensive for most of the masses at this period.
However, as time went on, more people started wearing sherwanis. By the late 19th century, the dress had become something anyone could wear.
Evolution of Sherwanis
It is worthwhile to note that sherwanis started as a Persian cape known as chapkan. However, it has evolved greatly today as many fashion designers and enthusiasts are redefining the looks of sherwanis. Nowadays, a sherwani for men looks like a more Indian-influenced dress (otherwise called andgarkha).
A few of the most common modern styles of sherwanis are:
- Jodhpuri sherwani
- Indo-western sherwani
- Printed sherwani
- Achkan sherwani
- Angrakha sherwani
In the past, it was only worn with churidars. However, times have changed as men can now combine their sherwanis with other clothing items such as draped lungis, fitted trousers, Patiala salwaars, and dhotis.
Modern Uses of Sherwanis
Some of the common uses of sherwanis are:
In India, sherwanis are some of the most common dresses worn by Indian grooms. By adorning a designer sherwani for a groom, a groom can showcase the vast heritage of the country in a spectacular manner. It is usually worn to contrast or match what the bride is wearing, creating a striking image.
Apart from grooms, Indian men also wear this garment when attending weddings of relatives or close friends. Also, sherwanis are commonly worn for Eid, funeral, as well as other formal occasions.
In Pakistan, the government has made it compulsory for officers to wear sherwanis on state occasions and national holidays. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that most Pakistanis adorn sherwanis during special events or holidays.
Due to the cultural significance of sherwanis, they are also preferred dresses for men attending cultural events. This is particularly common in some parts of India and Pakistan where sherwanis have cultural importance.
Although these are the common modern uses of sherwanis, it should be noted that there are no restrictions on how they can be worn. Therefore, some men may decide to wear sherwanis every day to work, at home, or social events. The kurta pajama for men offers a more casual take on sherwanis than can be worn for everyday purposes.
Global Acceptance of Sherwanis
As suggested above, sherwanis are now commonly worn by men in several Asian countries. As their style, design, and versatility continue to develop, sherwanis have gained more global acceptance. Today, it is not surprising to see people in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and lots more wearing sherwanis.