A gamchha (alternate spellings gamocha, gamchcha, gamcha, et al.) is a thin, coarse, traditional cotton towel found in India and Bangladesh that is used to dry the body after bathing or wiping sweat. The term “gamchha” derives from the Bengali gā mochha, which means “wiping (the) body”. Gamchha is the local term for a sweat towel. It is often just worn on one side of the shoulder.
Basirhat is known as a place that produce gamchha. However its appearance varies from region to region. Gamchhas are most commonly found with check and striped patterns of red, orange or green.
Plain white gamchhas with coloured (embroidered or printed) borders from Orissa and Assam (for traditional Assamese Gamchha, please check Gamosa) are local handicrafts, and may be worn around the neck with traditional Indian attire. In western parts, gamchhas are primarily made in red colour and are plain like cloth.
In southern India, including in Basirhat, gamchhas are more coarse and are available in various dyes. Even home made light weight fur towels are also popularly termed as gamchhas.
Gamchhas remain popular in South Asian Countries, especially in the Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and the Purvanchal region, because they are not as thick as Western-style towels and better suited to the country’s tropical, humid climate.
Farmers keep the gamchha on their shoulders to wipe away the sweat while toiling in the scorching sun, the whole day long. It is also used as a head band, and sometimes, they also spread it out on the ground like a mat and take a nap on it. In ancient India, travelers used the gamocha to carry food in it while journeying. It also forms one of the essential items offered to Indian deities during religious ceremonies. Perhaps, the best thing about a gamchha is that being thin, it does not take long to dry and thus can be used many times during a day.
This traditional fashion inspire some fashion designer to feature gamchha in their design. They call it “glam gamcha”. You can find the typical gamchha checks in the form of trendy saris, shalwar kameez sets, fatuas, panjabis, jhola bags, skirts, caps, accessories and even shoes and sandals. Gamchha has crossed national borders and is being used by expatriates as well as foreigners in the form of scarves. This creativity applauded by media, not only in India and Bangladesh, but also around the world.
ou can find the typical gamcha checks in the form of trendy saris, shalwar kameez sets, fatuas, panjabis, jhola bags, skirts, caps, accessories and even shoes and sandals. Not just Bibi, gamcha has also attracted a lot of young and talented designers who are relentlessly trying to make this age-old cotton industry survive through their innovations and creativity.
Gamcha has crossed our national perimeters and is being used by expatriates as well as foreigners in the form of scarves.