The dhoti, also known as panche, vesti, dhuti, mardani, chaadra, dhotar or panchey, is a type of sarong that outwardly resembles trousers. It is a lower garment forming part of the national or ethnic costume for men in the Indian subcontinent. The dhoti is fashioned out of a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth, usually around 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted either in the front or the back. Dhotis come in plain or solid colours, silk dhotis with embroidered borders are considered to be formal wear.
The word dhoti is derived from dhauti (Sanskrit), meaning to "cleanse or wash". In the context of clothing, it simply refers to the cleansed garment which was worn as part of everyday attire:129 The dhoti evolved from the ancient antriya which was passed through the legs, tucked at the back and covered the legs loosely, then flowed into long pleats at front of the legs, the same way it is worn today as formal dothi.:130 While informal dothi wraps around both legs firmly, in this style the back side of dothi is pulled to the front and tucked at the waist, before tucking the two loose ends at back, creating firmly fitted toruser-like dothi that wraps around both legs.
The garment is known by various names, such as:
a In Marathi, a dhotar is not the same as a pancha (plural panche).
While the former is worn around the waist, the latter is normally
used as a towel after a bath or shower (compare below).
The pancha is worn by many orthodox Jain men when they visit the temple for puja; unstitched clothing is believed by some Jains to be "less permeable to pollution" and therefore more appropriate for religious rituals than other garments. They also wear a loose, unstitched cloth, shorter than the pancha, on top.
Hare Krishna, known for its distinctive dress code, prompts Western adherents to wear pancha, usually of saffron or white cloth folded in a traditional style. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was known for wearing a white silk dhoti.
In India, there's a distinction between the lungi, a similar but smaller garment often worn by people at their home as it is more casual and comfortable than dhoti, and the more formal dhoti that is sometimes worn by politicians.
During the Indian independence, weaving of dhothi had been a siginificance of the self-reliance movement.