Kashmir’s traditional clothing is famous for its beautiful embroidery designs and patterns, reflecting the rich culture of the conflicted region. These clothes are made to keep people warm in the harsh cold weather. Wearing these traditional clothes is a way of showing love and respect to each other and valuing the old traditions passed down through generations. Clothes aren’t everything, but wearing traditional ones is special. For Kashmiris, the clothes they wear are closely connected to their identity. In Kashmir, Pherans hold a significant place in history, culture, and tradition. In this blog, we will explore the Pheran, which holds the essence of tradition in Kashmiri culture.
Pheran: Origin and Influence
The Pheran is a unique piece of clothing in Kashmir’s culture. People wear it, especially during the coldest period called “Chilai Kalan”, which starts on December 21 (now celebrated as Pheran Day). The Pheran has been a constant in changing times, representing the region’s culture and heritage. Because of the cold weather, people in Kashmir prefer clothes made of wool or silk. The traditional dress in Kashmir is different from what people wear in other parts of the country.
Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang noted that Kashmiri clothing is similar to Persian clothing. The word “Pheran” comes from various sources, like the Persian word for shirt, “perahan” or the Greek word “cover.” Some even think it might come from the Tajik word “peraband”. It’s said that the Mughal ruler Akbar introduced the Pheran to Kashmir in 1586. The Pheran is a loose garment that can be long, worn by all genders and ages. It’s an important part of Kashmiri culture. As time went on, Kashmiris transformed the Pheran into a fashion statement, especially in winter when designer Pherans became popular.
History of Pheran
The history of the Pheran goes back to the 15th century. It wasn’t just an outfit; it was a symbol of modesty and respect. Both men and women wore the Pheran all year round, no matter the weather. For women, the Pheran became even more important. They had to wear it regardless of the season or where they were going. Making Pherans has been an art in Kashmir for a long time, with different types for different seasons and occasions.
Different Types of Pherans
In winter, Pherans are made from Tweed, which keeps people warm. To protect against the heat of the kangri (a fire pot), a cotton lining called postch (khadir) is added. Tweed Pherans are usually simple, without much embroidery. There’s also the Rafl Pheran, which is light and warm, often with embroidery. Additionally, for summer, there are cotton Pherans, the lightest kind.
Embroidery and Varieties
Kashmiri artisans add embroidery to silk and velvet Pherans to enhance their beauty. The amount of embroidery depends on the occasion. For casual use, Rafl Pherans have Aari embroidery, which features floral patterns on the neck, cuffs, and hem. Tilla embroidery is the most popular, using golden or silver threads to create patterns. In the past, only older women wore Tilla-embroidered Pherans, but younger people like them too nowadays.
The most important feature of the Pheran is its warmth. It shields against the cold and allows people to layer underneath. Families gather in their Pherans, sharing warmth and conversations. Children stay close to their mothers for warmth and love. Pherans are essential in weddings for women. As they begin their new life, people expect brides to wear at least one Tilla-embroidered Pheran.
Modern Pherans come in many styles. People of all ages wear them to work, school, and outings. Hooded Pherans are popular among teenagers, keeping them warm and stylish. Despite evolving styles, Pherans remain an integral part of Kashmiri culture. People also keep candies and treats in their Pheran pockets, sharing them with others. Modern clothes like jackets and sweaters can’t match the comfort and warmth of Pherans. Pherans dominate wardrobes, reflecting various occasions and seasons.
Pherans are not only popular in Kashmir but have also gained attention outside the region. They blend well with both modern and traditional fashion, pairing with jeans or traditional outfits. Bollywood movies like “Kashmir ki Kali,” “Junglee,” “Jab Jab Phool Khile,” and more have featured Kashmiri dresses, showcasing their beauty and significance.