AskDefine | Define lungi

Dictionary Definition

lungi n : a long piece of brightly colored cloth (cotton or silk) used as clothing (a skirt or loincloth or sash etc.) in India and Pakistan and Burma [syn: lungyi, longyi]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  1. A garment worn around the waist by many people, especially men, in Southern India, Bangladesh, Burma, and Pakistan.

Extensive Definition

The lungi (Bengali: লুঙ্গি [ˈluŋgi]) is a garment worn around the waist in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar (formerly Burma). While its origin is found in South Indian culture, it is worn by diverse communities across Southern Asia.

Design and usage

The standard adult lungi is 115cm in height and 200cm in length, when open. It is normally woven from cotton in a variety of designs and colors. The most common styles are either solid-colored or plaid, partly since these patterns are cheaper to produce with a loom. Blue is a particularly popular, since it fades to pleasant tones in contrast to other colors. Regardless of the design or color, lungis are often lined at the top and bottom with a black/white stripe containing a heat-sealing resin to prevent fraying. Unlike dhotis, which are linear like sheets, lungis are sewn into a tube shape like a skirt. Depending on local tradition, lungis can be worn by men and/or women, are tied or fastened in various ways, and can be used in different cultural activities, ranging from normal daily life to elaborate wedding ceremonies. For daily purposes, a simple double knot is most popular, since it is least likely to slip or come undone. The lungi is thought to be quite comfortable, as its length can be adjusted rather easily. It is particularly popular in regions where the heat and humidity create an unpleasant climate for trousers.

Regional variations

Bangladesh and West Bengal

The lungi is the most commonly-seen dress of Bangladeshi men, although it is not normally worn on formal occasions. In Bangladesh, lungis are worn by most men on a daily basis, although elaborately-designed cotton, batik, or silk lungis are also often presented as wedding gifts to the groom. In Bangladesh, the lungi industry is concentrated in Khulna, and leading brands include ATM, Smart, and Alphabet Textiles. Bengali women do not traditionally wear lungis, although non-Bengali tribal women do wear similar garments in some parts of southeastern Bangladesh. In neighboring West Bengal, the lungi is fast replacing the dhoti as the most popular men's garment for everyday wear. Some Bengali men avoid wearing the lungi, considering it to be too informal or inappropriate, despite the fact that it is both ubiquitous and comfortable. Despite the fact that the usage of lungi is declining slowly, it is still the most common male attire in rural Bangladesh.

South India

In Kerala the lungi, locally known as Kaili or Kalli Mundu, is worn by both men and women. It is considered a casual dress or working dress of physical labourers. Lungis are generally colourful, and with varying designs. The plain white version of a lungi is known as a mundu. For more ceremonial occasions (like weddings), mundus often bear a golden embroidery known as kasavu. Lungis are not used during occasions such as weddings or other religious ceremonies. Saffron-coloured mundus are also known as kaavi mundu.
Coloured lungi is called Munda in central Karnataka. Plain white double folded cloth similar to lungi is called a panche. Panche as opposed to lungi is worn during formal ceremonies. These are also used in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Lungis also comes in two types: Open Lungi, which is basically a piece of cloth wrapped around, and Closed Lungi, which is stitched to form a sort of a 'tube'. In Kerala open lungi is more popular.
Kerala men folk generally tuck up their mundus or lungis. The bottom of the garment is pulled up and tied back on to the waist. This would make the mundu or lungi only cover the body from the waist to the knees. In this fashion it somewhat resembles a kilt, but without pleats.
In Tamil Nadu, only the men wear this garment, and the usage is similar to Kerala's. It is also known as Kaili or Saaram/Chaaram in South Tamilnadu.


In Myanmar, the lungi is called longyi in Burmese. For men, the lungi is known as a paso, and for women, it is known as a htamain. Lungis of different fabrics, including cotton and silk, are worn for informal and formal occasions.


In Yemen, the garment is called a Ma'awiis and is worn by males of all ages.


In Somalia, the Hoosgunti is a fixture amongst males. It however is associated more with elder males who wear it with a kuufi baraawe, but is commonly worn by many Somalis while relaxing at home. The traditional colour is plain white, but because of Asian influence and location of Somalia on the Spice Route, colourful Asian-style lunghis have been introduced to the country.

See also

lungi in Bengali: লুঙ্গি
lungi in Tamil: லுங்கி
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