The Kurta Hunt

I never thought I would be writing what could partially be deemed a fashion piece but

Pictured here I am in a dressy kurta ready for a temple celebration

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. 

 I asked a friend where had he gotten his nice looking set, so that I might acquire one. He informed me that he could not find them in the US, but had gotten several the last time he visited India. 

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. 

Casual look. Short kurta with slacks or jeans

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…)

“Western Style Kurta.” This would be worn to a formal affair such as a wedding

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.  

 Although I had missed Navratri, I had them for Diwali and for a few other special events. Later, I even broadened my wardrobe with waistcoats. I particularly like waistcoats because they look dashing whether worn with the Pajama suit, (for which PM Modi is so well known) or slacks with a western shirt or kurta. Some guys top off jeans with a waistcoat and that looks great too.  

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. 

The full Monty. Pajama pants, long kurta and waistcoat. Dress, formal, or casual depending on outfit material and design. Shoes and scarf add to style. Pants may come in matching or contrasting color. We Hindu men are a handsome bunch!

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. 

I never thought I would be writing what could partially be deemed a fashion piece but I just had to share my Kurta hunt. 



4 Replies to “The Kurta Hunt”

  1. Nice blog. Problem in the US that I’ve found is that the mark-up on kurtas is outrageous. Yes, some is expected but please, being literally robbed is another thing. And I even paid the crazy price lately for a fancy kurta for Navratri. Must have my head examined.

    1. Clayton, thanks for your response. Have you checked Amazon? They have some pretty decent ones and it helps if you know your size. I find it better to order fron India, although it takes longer.

  2. People are always telling me that I don’t need Indian clothes to be a Hindu, but I find that it does help. You don’t stand out as much, you don’t look as much like a tourist. Maybe that doesn’t matter. I do get sensitive about people taking me seriously!

    1. Absolutely. Attire does matter and for the reasons which you so well state.

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