The Khada Dupatta is a beautiful traditional Hyderabadi outfit first worn by women of the royal Qutub Shahi family in the 16th century. It was later modified and adapted by the begums (aristocratic women) of the Asaf Jahi Empire – the start of the popularly known Nizam era. Despite being a noble outfit, it was donned by common women irrespective of their age, religion and stature in the princely state of Hyderabad, or Deccan, as it was known during the pre-independence era.
Whilst the Khada Dupatta is still popular in /Hyderabad today, the outfit is largely worn by a small segment of the society unlike during the Nizam period where women of different ethnic backgrounds graced the outfit.
Today, the outfit is typically worn by Hyderabadi Muslim women. In-fact, it’s almost a compulsion for a Hyderabadi Muslim bride to wear the Khada Dupatta on her big day! Not just the bride, but the bridesmaids and women close to the bride also flaunt the Khada Dupatta.
Let me tell you a little more about the royal attire which also happens to be one of my favourite outfits!
Khada Dupatta, as the name suggests, is a long upright dupatta or veil.
It’s an elaborate outfit with extravagant embroidery that typically comprises of four parts: A sleeveless Kurta (knee-length tunic), a Choli (balero-like jacket) with short sleeves worn underneath the kurta, a straight pyjama (straight trousers) and a dupatta (veil) measuring at least six metres that is draped over the kurta and pyjama in a unique manner.
Types of Khada Dupattas
There are a variety of beautiful fabrics out there in the market but Net, Banarsi silk, Tissue and Chiffon fabrics are typically used as the base for the long dupatta, kurta and the choli of the Khada Duppatta. The fall of the outfit comes out best when designed from these materials. The straight pyjama is usually made with a brocade fabric.
After choosing the base fabric, the dupatta is supplemented with intricate gold or silver coloured embroidery known as ‘zardozi’ work. The kurta has a traditional design for the neckline and arm holes which are decorated with a heavy border or lace called ‘masala’.
I know you’re probably thinking ‘masala’ is the mixture of condiments that are used to spice up curries and Indian dishes. That’s exactly what the borders do to the dress, give it that extra character.
This masala can either have the same zardozi work as the dupatta or just a silver or gold self-embossed cloth attached to the borders.
Back in the olden days, Khada Dupattas were exclusively made for women of elite households with real silver or gold thread embroidery. This kind of masala was called ‘Saancha’ masala. Imagine the grandeur of those outfits!
All the gold and silver thread work and the rich fabrics make these outfits look glamorous. Nevertheless, they look equally outstanding when made with simple fabrics like chanderi (a light fabric) and cotton. The simple Khada Dupattas were worn by ladies during the day time in their houses. Young girls used to wear cotton Khada Dupattas to colleges/universities as well. That’s how common and loved the outfit was.
What’s your favourite colour?
The beauty of this outfit is that it looks classy in every colour. Sometimes the outfit is entirely designed in a single colour with just a simple gold or silver border, and sometimes it can be designed with slight variations. For example, the base fabric can be of one colour, say pink, and for some colour contrast, you could choose green as the base colour for the border along with the zardozi work.
Although the colour selection is completely a matter of personal choice, brides tend to go with a particular colour for their different wedding ceremonies.
It’s cheerful shades of yellow or greens for the haldi and mehendi ceremonies (pre-wedding events) and usually shades of pink or reds for the big day!
Custom-made for you!
A lot of effort and detailing goes into designing and making a Khada Dupatta. Unlike any other Indian outfit, this dress cannot simply be bought from a boutique or a designer store. It’s entirely custom made for the person wearing it. From the colour, to the intricate karchob (coloured thread embroidery) or zardozi work to the combinations, everything is designed as per your wish. It can take anywhere from as little as one week to more than six months to make a Khada Dupatta outfit.
Okay! I can go on and on about this, regal outfit. Believe Me! There is a lot more that I want to tell you all about the Khada Dupatta. Where to get one made for yourself, about the craftsmanship involved in making a dupatta and so on!
Until my next post, I’ll leave you to bask in the royalty of this majestic outfit.