As ‘odhni’ and ‘chunni’ (long scarf) are important for married women in other states, likewise pichora holds significance for Kumaoni women.
What is a pichora?
It is a ‘chunni’ which is 2.75 or 3 metre long and 1.25 metre wide. For colouring it, chikan fabric is used and it is painted red on a yellow background.
A swastik is made in its centre with flowers and leaves around it. In the four quadrants of the swastik, the sun, the moon, conch shell and bells are made. The area around it is painted with small round stamps.
Earlier, skilled women used to make the Swastik and then other shapes using a 25 paise coin. For making the swastik and other geometric shapes, the 25 paise coin was used in erected form while for making dots, it was just placed on the cloth.
Earlier, pichora used to be worn only by married women. It was made on the day of ‘Ganesh puja’ and ladies sangeet.
In some pichoras, images of gods and goddesses are made. During the final journey of the ‘suhagans’ (married women), ther bodies are covered with pichora.
In the local language, pichora is known as ‘rangavali’. It is named so as the design of Pichora resembles a rangoli.
During weddings, ‘naamkaran’ (naming ceremony), ‘janeu’, worship, on all good occasions, all women members of the family and relatives don the pichora. The middle part of the pichora is very significant. All the four signs made around the Swastik are considered auspicious in Indian culture.
The pichora is necessary in all rituals of marriage.
If you have ever attended a wedding of people from Uttarakhand, you must have noticed married women wearing a yellow chunri. All the women will necessarily don the pichora even if they are wearing expensive designer saris.
As the sun is the symbol of energy, Goddess Laxmi is the symbol of money and prosperity. Though with the changing times, readymade pichoras have replaced the traditional handmade ones. Still rangawalis continue to be an important part of folk art and tradition.
Though most of the pichoras have swastik, bell, flower, conch, the only difference lies in the weight, glitter and pearls embedded in it.
Unmarried women do not don the pichora.
Women are gifted the pichora on their wedding day. Without it, their makeup is not considered complete. Gradually, pichora is being worn in Garhwal also.
The fame of the pichora is spreading in the world. In Almora, pichora is still being made with hands only.
The markets are full of readymade pichoras which are liked by all women, but handmade ones still rule the heart.
People of the hill state living in Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai and abroad also purchase pichoras.
Delhi resident Kanchan Bisht says: “We may be living in a modern world, but we have not forgotten our tradition and culture. Pichora is our traditional identity and donning it makes a woman more beautiful.”
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