A symbol of Dogra Pride

Ashok Sharma
Dogra traditional Turban , also known as ‘Safa’ or ‘Pagri’ in local parlance is the most prominent item of Dogra dress.It is the representative of the pride of Dogras and is worn on head by men.Pagri is a symbol of honour and respect and wearing a pagri of different styles and colour depends on various ocassions.Dogra turban of various hues and shades are worn on various social, religious and cultural ocassions.White turban is generally worn by elderly people and those who are learned in scriptures and religious rituals.It symbolises wisdom, knowledge and purity.Then, there is saffron coloured turban which is generally donned by people, especially of Rajput community on eve of religious and social functions.It has a strong and well starched flap called ‘turrah’ in the centre and it is tied in a different manner from that worn by pandits and elderly people.It symbolises Dogra pride and warriorship and manliness/manhood.Then there is pink coloured turban which is often worn by the fathers of bride and groom on the eve of marriage of their wards.A turban is an inexpensive item as compared to other items of dress.First, the plain cloth measuring about 5-6 metres is bought and then dyed in the desired colour.It is then starched and decorated with star shaped or other decorative material and then tied.It is an art to tie a turban and very few are the people who are adept in tying the traditional pagri.Often people have to look for elderly people in villages and towns to get the pagri tied. The starched , dyed and decorated pagri is tied artfully and artistically on the head of a person and then placed on the head of others.After use, it is removed and placed carefully at a place lest its folds get loosened.Pagri is a valuable item of Dogra attire and efforts must be made to promote this item of Dogra heritage signifying Dogra pride and prestige.
But sad as it is, the youngsters are losing charm for this traditional headgear and they have little craze for traditional Dogra pagdi.They don’t know how to tie a pagri and generally people, especially baratis wear ready made pagri and of red or other colour on the occasion of marriage.Efforts are being made by some Dogra organisations to revive and popularise the traditional turban in Dogras.It is a good initiative on the part of Dogra Sadar Sabha to organise pagri tying competitions for children .There is need of organising such competitions at school level.Pagri is a symbol of Dogra pride and efforts must be made to promote this valuable item of Dogra attire.Dogra turban has got such an importance that our Dogra rulers and leaders such as Pt Prem Nath Dogra used to don pagri as a rule.Dogra rulers and those holding high offices, such as Dewans used to wear traditional turban on different occasions such as holding public darbars.Even our elders used to wear traditional dogra ghuttana, kurta and donning a pagri, used to attend functions or public meetings convened by Tehsildar or holding Panchayats to settle disputes or discuss local social and developmental issues.Pagri has such a significance that removing the pagri and putting it at the feet of a person symbolises humble entreaties of a person and in many Bollywood films, there are scenes when the bride’s father takes off his pagri to request his son in law not to demand dowry or put some other condition for marrying his daughter.Even it is associated with honour as ‘pagdi ushallna'(tossing a turban) means causing loss of honour to a person.
In addition to the turban,there is another headgear called Parna which is a piece of cloth having generally checks or stripes and having much less length than the length of the turban.It is generally worn by the farmers and workers to protect themselves from scorching heat or biting cold though some elderly people also wear it habitually.The Government, NGOs and social and cultural organisations must come forward to promote the traditional turban which is promoinent piece of Dogra dress symbolising our rich cultural ethos lest it should vanish and the posterity may not be so lucky to see it. (The writer is serving as Lecturer in English in Govt Hr.Sec.School, Thial (Udhampur).