Tracing the Timeless Elegance of the Hyderabadi Khada Dupatta

A glimpse into the past and the contemporary allure of Khada dupatta.
A glimpse into the past and the contemporary allure of Khada dupatta. L: Vogue, R: Pinterest

Out of the countless Indian festivities, only a handful are said to honour and celebrate a girl's graceful passage into womanhood, where the essence of womanhood itself is exalted. Among the many attires that grace these occasions, one stands out and is dedicated to a girl's transformation — the elegant Hyderabadi Khada Dupatta. This Khada Dupatta has become a symbol for women in Hyderabad and there is much to uncover about the rich history that's carried within this garment.

For many, the dupatta embodies the essence of royal heritage. This does not come as a surprise since the roots of this regal garment can be traced back to the early 17th century, under the reign of the Mughal era. Noor Jahan, the beloved wife of Emperor Jahangir, invited skilled Turkish and Persian craftsmen to craft exquisite noble dresses. These garments soon became a staple among noblewomen. With the passage of time, this noble attire underwent a transformation and took on its distinct style, known today as the Khada Dupatta. This unique ensemble combined elements of a Kurtini, a jacket, and a 6-yard dupatta with intrinsic work,  thanks to the modifications introduced by the Begums of Nizam in Hyderabad.

Despite its noble origins, the Khada Dupatta transcended social barriers and found favour among common women of different ethnic backgrounds in the state of Hyderabad during the pre-independence era.

A glimpse into the past and the contemporary allure of Khada dupatta.
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Crafting a Khada Dupatta requires impeccable craftsmanship. As the name suggests, the Khada Dupatta is a long, upright dupatta or veil. Its elaborate design features extravagant embroidery and consists of four main parts: a sleeveless kurta, a choli with short sleeves worn beneath the kurta, straight pyjamas, and the unique six-meter-long dupatta that drapes over the kurta.

Khada Dupatta can be traced back to the early 17th Century
Khada Dupatta can be traced back to the early 17th CenturyVintage Indian Clothing

While the Khada Dupatta continues to be famous in Hyderabad today, it is now predominantly worn by Hyderabadi Muslim women, especially on their wedding day. In fact, for a Hyderabadi Muslim bride, wearing the Khada Dupatta is almost a tradition. The bride's bridesmaids and close female relatives also proudly flaunt this attire during the wedding festivities.

The Khada Dupatta exudes style and sophistication while being remarkably time-efficient to wear, taking approximately 10 minutes to drape. Celebrities have been spotted sporting this traditional garment in fashion magazines and photo shoots. Rekha's fondness for the Hyderabadi Khada Dupatta has been evident on multiple occasions, showcasing her deep appreciation for the regal heritage embodied by this garment.

Rekha donning Hyderabadi Khada Dupatta
Rekha donning Hyderabadi Khada

The legacy of the Hyderabadi Khada Dupatta remains alive as it continues to be the official traditional bridal dress for Hyderabadi brides and bridesmaids. Even celebrities like Sania Mirza and Soha Ali Khan have donned this regal attire on their wedding days.

The rich history of the Khada Dupatta is a tribute to the begums who relentlessly experimented with its design across generations. From its Mughal roots to the creative modifications by the Begums of Nizam, this noble garment remains an enduring symbol of grace, heritage, and womanhood among the people of Hyderabad.

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