Daura Suruwal is a traditional Nepali dress for men. Its female counterpart is Gunyo Cholo. It was once a popular everyday wear. Even today, old people in some parts still wear Daura Suruwal as a regular clothing. It is less popularly known as ‘Labeda Suruwal’ and is somewhat similar to Kurta that Indian men wear, but different. Daura Surwal was once a national dress of Nepal. Today, it is one of many national signs.
Daura is the upper wear. Its design, that makes it quite different from the Kurta, has religious connotations. It has, therefore, remained unchanged for centuries. Suruwal is the trouser. It does not have any religious significance, probably because it is worn on the lower body.
The designs of Daura that identifies with religious beliefs are the eight strings, five pleats or Kallis and its closed neck. The eight strings, four pairs, are used to tie the dress around the body. Each string represents one of Astamatrika-Singini (eight mother goddesses) – Kumari, Mahalaxmi, Barahi, Brahmayani, Indrayani, Maheshwori, Vaishnavi and Byagini. They are protectress deities. Eight is also an auspicious number according to Nepali mythology. The five pleats or Kallis represents Pancha Buddha or Pancha Ratna- Vairochana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi. They are representations of the five qualities of a Buddha and are also known as Five Wisdom or Tathagatas. Then, the closed neck signifies the snake around Lord Shiva’s neck, Vasuki. Even in a piece of cloth, we can see religious harmony that Nepal is known for.
It is unclear exactly when in history Daura Suruwal appeared but it must be at least some nine hundred years old. It was once worn by the Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, 19th century Prime Minister of Nepal, when on an unofficial visit to the United Kingdom. This popularized Daura Suruwal among the citizens. In 2017, it was made the national uniform. However, because Nepal is ethnically and culturally diverse, Daura Suruwal alone could not represent whole of Nepalese dressing culture. We can look at Daura Suruwal and say that is Nepali because of its unique design but not every ethnic group can relate to it as ‘that is us’. Thus, after 2046, Daura Suruwal became one of the national signs only and no longer a national uniform.
Though it once used to be everyday wear, today, with a range of stylistic options from around the world, Daura Surwal has become limited to special occasions like wedding, festivals and cultural gathering of specific groups. When you see someone wearing Daura Suruwal, you assume he must have come from or is going to some specific program. It is not a common sight. Many youth’s don’t even own a pair. It has become popular with those travelling to foreign countries though. People going abroad for studies or work take a pair of Daura Suruwal as his nation’s sign. It is something to remember his country by.
In terms of style, as mentioned above, Daura Suruwal has not changed in its design, but people today have a choice of colors and fabric. Daura Suruwal is also a groom’s dress (This, again, is not true for all Nepalese). A groom’s Daura Suruwal is made of Dhaka, a special traditional hand woven fabric of certain designs. A Topi (hat) made of Dhaka is worn with it.
A Dhaka Topi is also worn with normal Daura Suruwal, either a Dhaka Topi or a Nepali Black Topi. The Coat is another accessory for this dress. According to history, it was Prime Minister Janga Bahadur Rana, who introduced coat to Daura Suruwal. He was gifted a coat by the Queen of England, which he started wearing on top of Daura Suruwal. This became a trend and, from then, Daura Suruwal and coat has become a tradition. East Coat (Waist coat) is also worn. This combination is informal, used for everyday wear when Daura Suruwal used to be everyday wear.
Today, Daura Suruwal may not be a national dress, but it has a special place in the heart of the Nepalese. For many, the fact has yet to catch on and it is definitely the most popular among other traditional dresses.