The first time I attended a Hindu event where the majority of the men had on kurta suits, I wore western dress slacks and a nice shirt, but I felt like a fish out of water, or at least in the wrong pond.
After that I went on a ” kurta hunt.” I exhausted very many stores in the California Bay area, which was disappointing considering the large number of Hindus there. Several of the stores had saris but…no kurtas.
I finally located one without the fitted pants, referred to as pajamas, and wore it with dress slacks or jeans, either of which is acceptable. I was surprised to find it at a New Age Bookstore in Mountain View, CA. Being a somewhat frequent visitor there, I was known to the sales lady who said she thought of me when the shipment arrived. “Yes,” she said, “our manager thought these would hang around forever, but they have been flying off the shelf.” She was right; the night of my purchase, they had only two in my size. When I went back a week later to see how fast they were moving, they were out of stock. “Not sure when we’ll get another order”, my friend said, “that first was just an experiment.” I found another shirt from an on-line store and was glad to boast two Kurtas, but I still wanted a pajama suit.
Not too long after I got those two, I relocated to Arizona, which also has a large Hindu population. The first affair I attended was Navratri. Although I had on slacks and a kurta, most of the guys had on the coveted suit. At that festive occasion there was dancing and laughter and of course feasting. I left feeling well fed socially and spiritually, but really wanting my own suit. (Reeks of Maya, but more on that later…)
The internet came to my rescue when I found a site located in India that sold only Kurta wear. They had formal, informal, casual and even what they termed “Western style kurtas”. Meanwhile I had learned of a lady in Phoenix, AZ who imported Indian wear and although mostly saris, she also had men’s kurtas. I purchased two from her and two from the on line store.
I will be honest: it took a few times wearing the full suit to feel really comfortable. In the Western world men are normally afforded a sparse selection of suit colors. Ethnic men sometimes wear more colorful attire, but since the Western standard is set by white men, the rest of us just oblige. Although there are times when I dress in African garb, it is for a specific event or an occasion where such pride is appreciated.
I also had to get used to the pockets, or lack thereof. However, all I really need is my wallet, which fits down into the shirt side pocket, or, if wearing the waistcoat, the breast pockets work very well for phone or wallet. The pajamas themselves normally have no pockets.
I wear the waistcoats a lot. I really like them and they are far more comfortable than a Western suit jacket.
In talking to other Hindu men, they too sometimes enjoy dressing in their Pajama suits. Some of them accessorize with matching or complimentary scarfs or shoes. I have a scarf, but no shoes yet.