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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Gamchha: A tog in rural India

    Gamchha, made up of thin coarse cotton fabric, is a well known headgear around the world, especially, in Arab countries where it's worn as the essential part of their attire to protect themselves from scorching sun and sand and is called as shemagh or keffiyeh but in India Gamchha is traditionally used as towel for drying one's body after bathing, it serves other purposes also. For instance, physical laborers like coolies, construction workers and farmers use it as bun to carry any load on their head . Sometimes, they also spread it out on the ground like a mat and take a nap on it or wipe out sweat while toiling. Perhaps, the best thing about a gamchha is that being thin, it does not take long to dry and thus can be used many times during a day.
    A mix of checks and stripes in red, orange and green is the most common print, a white gamchha is also not uncommon and plain white gamchhas with colored, embroidered or printed borders are very popular in the states of Orissa and Assam.

    (An entry for A thread a day contest)
  • #701528
    Gamchha as known in northern India and Pancha/Thundu has the same function and used by men to cover their head, swipe sweat or dry them, etc. These are traditional wear and used in rural parts of our country. It helps to carry the load, to refreshen, as a fan in the scorching heat, as a body cover when needed. We find it mostly used by elder members as the new generation find it odd but it is very useful and handy at times.
    “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in." — Morrie Schwartz

  • #701541
    The subject matter Gamcha or its local versions in each place-(Thorthumundu/Thundu in our place) which roughly translates to Towel inn English is a multipurpose cloth. It is weaved in such a way that it can absorb water and hence used for drying body after sweating or bathing. It has sufficient space between threads to allow easy breathing and hence it is used to cover face and head when working under Sun. Folding it functions as a heat retainer and as such it is used as shawl of wrapped around neck and head in cool weather. It has many more uses.
    I use it as a small cushion or pillow for my afternoon nap by folding it by few layers and then rolling that fold. The same I use under my back when I feel back strain. This also comes in use when one has chest congestion. Another use of the thorth/Thundu/Gamcha is for fomentation when one has a swollen or strained neck, or sprains. In large catering a fresh and new one of suitable size is used to filter the water from cooked rice. Earlier the labourers returning from work used it as a container or shopping bag to hold the grains , groceries and vegetables purchased.

  • #701550
    Thundu, as it is called, marks the respect of a person who was sitting in panchayat under the peepal tree. It is still used today by village panchayath members, where they take major decisions related to festivals, fairs and other issues solving problems of villagers.
    Lead the leader

  • #701559
    Varghese and Venkiteswaran have covered the entire use of the Gamcha that I call it Thundu in Tamil. It is an all-purpose single textile that is available to us.
    I would add and say that it is a waist belt to hold the Dhoti on our waist. It is used by both males and females.

    No life without Sun

  • #701695
    In Telugu, we will call it Tuvalu. In rural areas, many people don't wear shirts when they go to the fields for cultivation. They wear a Pancha and will have a towel with them. They will make it as a turbine to their head and we call it Talapaga. The thin towels which are very lengthy are known as Kanduva.
    always confident

  • #701697
    I have seen a few varieties or types of Gamchha in my life. The first Gamchha I saw was with the pujari or priest who used to come to our house for conducting Puja when I was a child. It was a small but long towel type thing made of a thin cotton fabric with faint red lines on a white background. It was so conspicuous that if a person used to keep it on his shoulders people would consider him as a priest only. Then, when I left my home for joining to my first job and reached the place of my duty then in the evening when I went to the small vegetarian hotel for food I found the waiter wearing almost same Gamchha on their neck which had remarkable similarity to the priest's Gamchha and only difference was the colour as these were dark coloured but material was same that is thin cotton. They are very absorbent and useful for wiping the plates and spoons etc in such small hotels. Later when I started my own cooking I purchased a few of these Gamchhas for my own use.
    Knowledge is power.

  • #702237
    Thank you all for informative replies. I wasn't aware that gamchha is used in south India also.

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