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Traditional Dress in Nepal: A Cultural Exploration

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: April 22, 2023

Nepal is a land of diverse cultures, and traditional dress is an integral part of Nepalese culture. The country’s traditional attire reflects its unique blend of Hindu and Buddhist customs and traditions. Nepalese people wear traditional clothing on various occasions such as festivals, weddings, and religious ceremonies. The attire is not only a way to showcase their culture but also a way to preserve their heritage. 

Traditional Dress for Women


The sari is a long piece of cloth draped around the waist and worn with a blouse. It is the most common attire for women in Nepal. The sari comes in different materials, designs, and colours, and each region in Nepal has its variation of the sari. The most popular sari is the Dhaka sari, which is made of cotton or silk and has intricate designs. The Dhaka sari is typically worn during festivals and weddings.

Kurta Suruwal

Kurta suruwal is another traditional dress worn by women in Nepal. It consists of a long shirt (kurta) and a loose-fitting trouser (suruwal). The kurta suruwal is comfortable to wear and is perfect for everyday wear. Women also wear the kurta suruwal on formal occasions such as weddings and other ceremonies.

Gunyo Cholo

Gunyo Cholo is a traditional Nepalese dress worn by women. It consists of a tight blouse (cholo) and a long skirt (gunyo). The gunyo cholo is worn mostly by women from the hills of Nepal. It is often paired with a shawl, and women wear it during festivals and other celebrations.

Lady in red traditional sari and jewellery clothes shop owner cashmere yak wool shawls.

Traditional Dress for Men

Daura Suruwal

The daura suruwal is the national dress of Nepal and is worn by men. It consists of a knee-length shirt (daura) and a loose-fitting trouser (suruwal). The daura suruwal is made of cotton or silk and comes in different colours and designs. It is typically worn on formal occasions such as weddings and other ceremonies.


The topi is a traditional Nepalese cap worn by men. It is made of cotton or wool and is often embroidered. The topi is an essential accessory for the daura suruwal and is worn on formal occasions.

Dhaka Topi

The Dhaka topi is a traditional Nepalese cap worn by men. It is made of Dhaka fabric, which is a handwoven fabric made in Nepal. The Dhaka topi comes in different designs and colours and is worn on formal occasions such as weddings and other ceremonies.

Changing Trends in Traditional Dress

While traditional dress still holds significance in Nepalese culture, modern adaptations have also emerged. With the influence of Western culture, Nepalese people have started to incorporate Western fashion into their traditional attire. For example, women now wear skirts with traditional blouses, and men wear jackets with traditional attire.

However, preserving traditional dress has become a challenge in Nepal. As modernization takes over, traditional attire is slowly disappearing. Younger generations are not interested in wearing traditional attire, and there is a lack of awareness about the significance of traditional clothing. Moreover, the production of traditional clothing has decreased, making it difficult to find traditional attire in stores.

What to Expect and What to Wear When Volunteering in Nepal with GVI

If you are planning to volunteer in Nepal with GVI, you can expect to see a mix of traditional and modern attire. In the cities, people often dress in Western-style clothing, while in rural areas, traditional attire is more prevalent. As a volunteer, it is important to respect local customs and traditions, and wearing appropriate clothing is a way to do so.

When volunteering in Nepal with GVI, it is recommended to dress conservatively. Women should wear loose-fitting clothing that covers their shoulders and knees, such as long skirts or pants, and avoid low-cut tops. Men should also wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees, such as long pants and shirts. It is also recommended to bring a shawl or scarf to cover your head or shoulders when visiting religious sites.

In conclusion, traditional dress is an essential aspect of Nepalese culture. It reflects the country’s rich cultural heritage and traditions. From the sari to the daura suruwal, each traditional attire has its unique significance and meaning. Although modern adaptations have emerged, it is important to preserve traditional dress in Nepal.

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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