Bimala Gurung, managing director at Sanskar School, says that from her childhood till now, she has seen drastic changes in the Gurung attire. And she doesn’t know how she feels about it. The classic way to wear the Gurung dress, with the chit ko gunyo cholo and ghalek is being replaced with more modern, Bollywood-inspired modifications. “Young people nowadays rarely have proper knowledge when it comes to the Gurung costume,” she says.
While realising that there is a need to march with the time, there is also the dreary fact that the Gurung dress is losing its originality and purity. “If one really wants to wear a Gurung dress, one must wear it properly and respectfully.”
Some young Gurung individuals also take Bimala’s stance. Sajan Gurung, 28, a visa processing officer, agrees that the traditional Gurung attire should be worn in its original form. “Currently, it appears as though we are emulating Bollywood. There is a sort of degradation in the name of style.”
For the Gurung community, the clothing serves as a symbol of resistance and celebration. Asha Gurung, the managing director of Royal Alina’s Restaurant at Baneshwar, explains that wearing the Gurung dress gives her self-confidence. But recently, she sees that many are opting for lehengas instead of the classic Gurung lungi. “The distinctiveness of our culture is getting lost. Sometimes it is important to resist change, especially when it comes to loss of tradition.”
Historically, Gurung people have been residents of the mountains and hills. This climate explains how rudimentary clothing was worn. According to Paru Gurung, a designer who exports traditional dresses to the UK and Hong Kong, Gurung men wear a garment called jama that wraps around the waist and falls to mid-thigh. They also wear a blouse-style shirt or bhoto secured with ties across