A thin coarse traditional towel made of cotton, gamchha is widely popular amongst the Indian masses. It is basically used for, after taking a bath, drying one’s body but serve up other purposes as well. It also makes the vital item for men’s apparel, especially for the people belonging to the lower rung of the social ladder. For instance, one can often find physical laborers like construction workers, farmers, coolies etc hauling a gamchha over their shoulder.
This cotton fabric traditional towel is very much popular amongst the people living in the states of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam. Now, when it is widely used in different parts of the country, definitely, the name will receive a certain amount of transformation and in the state of Bihar, it is pronounced ‘gamchi’. Besides, there are numerous ways of wearing gamchha as it is unstitched and you can twist and turn and, wear according to your needs and requirements. Take example of a coolie, who makes a bun from this gamchha and keeps it on his head, so that he could easily carry passenger’s luggage.
Now, if you would shift your radar to the farmer’s side then also you would find that apart from drying one’s body, it has a lot of other tasks to do. Farmers keep this towel on their shoulders and wipe away sweat when they swelter out in the sun all day long. Sometimes, they even spread it on the ground and take rest on it. In ancient times also, travelers used to carry food items in their gamchha while journeying. But, the best part of gamchha is that being thin and made of coarse material, it wont take too long to dry and hence can be used numerous times a day.
A mix of stripes and checks in red, green and orange is the common print, although white gamchha is also widely used by the people. Moreover, white gamchhas with colored, printed or embroidered borders are also very popular in Assam and Orissa. Though the availability of designer, fancy and branded towels have a bit degraded the market of gamchha but still it is the most popular and well-liked item of men’s own personal use.