Pagadi or turban has historically been a sign of culture, wisdom, virility and often used identify the different sections of community. Puneri pagadi is an inseparable part of Pune which is the cultural capital of Maharashtra.
Puneri pagadi is conceptualized from the Peshwe turban worn by the Peshwas which itself was inspired by the traditional Chakribandh that was extremely popular during the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
This pagadi was first worn by Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade also known as ‘Nyayamurti Ranade’ in the 18th century as a mark of solidarity and reform. Lokmanya Tilak augmented the idea of pagadi and it soon became a sine qua non for reformers, scholars, lawyers and the elite class.
The Chakribandh used to be made by the Koshti Samaj whose profession was making these turbans. Koshtis used to use a single cloth about 5 metres wide and 50 metres long. A strip of cotton cloth dyed in red and dipped in kanji would be tied to the tightly wound turban for fifteen days. The fabric is then wound by women around their knees or their heads or on wooden stands so as to give the appropriate circumference as well as the poppat (stiff bulge that is visible on the right side of the central part of the turban). The pagadi was then embellished with gold zari. The pagadi made could be used only for fifteen days and therefore, koshtis used to visit houses fortnightly to make these pagadis in their homes.
The Puneri pagadi is considered to be a modern version of the Chakribandh. Women now use a paper mould made from plaster of paris mould that works as the stand to create the base of the pagadi as well as the protrusion for the poppat. Strips of red satin are draped to create the pleats on the poppat and the rear circumference to add dimension to the smooth single cloth called kapalpatti covering the front of the turban. A cloth is attached to the underside of the turban. The zari seen today is reminiscent of the zari used in the traditional Chakribandh but the modern version uses different cloth strips to create the pleated look.
The basic colour of the pagadi is white but vegetable and fruit colours are used to create coloured turbans. The upper part of the turban is called matha which is the flat surface. The upper part of the right side is the poppat or koka that sits exactly over the right eye and its tip is called the choch (beak). The beauty of the turban depends on the choch. The gonda with the choch is the dangling jartar (gold embellishments) on the right side of the forehead. Ghera is the fabric on the side of the pagadi. The area below the girth of the forehead is called kamal that covers the forehead and provides protection from the heat while the inner part is called gabha.
Though turbans are made in colours like purple, saffron and green and embellished with semi-precious stones, the red coloured turbans in silk or satin are in great demand. Turbans are made for Lord Ganesha as well as for Lord Panduranga during the festival season. The price of the turban depends on the jewellery work done on the turban and jartar.
Puneri pagadi, a symbol of pride, honour and prestige of the city of Pune was granted the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2009.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)