Fancy Dress Competition: Indian National Leaders Dress Ideas for Kids

Fancy dress competitions are not just fun but also a learning experience for children. Dress your child like Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji, Rani Laxmibai or other national leaders to inspire him.

By Sahana Charan  • 15 min read

Fancy Dress Competition: Indian National Leaders Dress Ideas for Kids

Wearing a costume representing your favourite character; going on stage to make a mark and reciting an inspirational quote that would bring on the applause — fancy dress competitions in school or in neighbourhood cultural events are always a happy reminiscence from  childhood. While parents often look for innovative ideas to give their children an edge in a fancy dress competition, national leaders have been an eternal favourite.

When your child dons the look of a charismatic national leader in a fancy dress competition, he would not only learn about the ideals the great individual stood for but also imbibe some of the leader's inspiring qualities. It also opens up an opportunity to gain knowledge, get a peek into our country’s rich history and culture, and learn important values.

Top reasons why children should participate in a fancy dress contest:

  1. Builds their confidence.
  2. Allows them to interact with other children.
  3. Helps them learn how to overcome stage fear and gain courage to face an audience.
  4. Gives an opportunity to be recognised.
  5. Motivates them to develop their creative skills.

Here are some interesting fancy dress ideas based on famous leaders:

Jawaharlal Nehru

Materials required:

  • Long-sleeved white kurta
  • White pyjamas
  • Grey or brown-coloured sleeveless waistcoat
  • Pointed white cap (Gandhi cap)
  • A red rose
  • Black sandals
  • Safety pin

How to dress like Jawaharlal Nehru:

  • Dress your child in the kurta and pyjamas.
  • Make him wear the waistcoat over the kurta.
  • With the help of a safety pin, attach the rose over the breast pocket of the waistcoat.
  • Finish the look with a white, pointed cap and black sandals.

Dialogue to say:

“The children of today will make the India of tomorrow. The way we bring them up will determine the future of the country. I am Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and I am the first Prime Minister of India.”

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

Materials required:

  • White shirt
  • Grey or black Jodhpuri (close-necked, buttoned-down) suit
  • Grey or black trousers
  • Black shoes
  • Grey-coloured wig
  • Hair gel

How to dress like Dr Kalam:

  • Let your child put on the white shirt tucked inside the grey trousers and wear the close-necked suit over the shirt.
  • The grey-coloured wig should be long enough to reach slightly under the ears and must be worn with hair parted in the middle of the head.
  • With the help of hair gel, smooth out the hair and comb it well. Comb the hair in such a way that it is slightly curled on both sides of the forehead.
  • Alternatively, instead of using a wig, you can also style your child’s hair to resemble Dr Kalam’s hairstyle. Use non-toxic, washable white paint to colour the hair.

Dialogue to say: 

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true. I am A P J Abdul Kalam and I am the Missile Man of India.”

Indira Gandhi fancy dress

Materials required:

  • Light-coloured cotton sari with a blouse or sleeved shirt
  • Beaded necklace, preferably long
  • Talcum powder

How to dress like Indira Gandhi:

  • Drape the sari in the regular fashion and put on the long necklace.
  • Sprinkle the talcum powder on a patch of hair on the right side of your child’s head to resemble grey hair.

Dialogue to say:

“Garibi hatao!” (Remove poverty). “I’m Indira Gandhi and I’m known as the Iron Lady of India.”

Bhagat Singh

Materials required:

  • White shirt
  • Black trousers
  • Black formal shoes
  • Black or dark brown Fedora hat
  • Kohl or black eye pencil

How to dress like Bhagat Singh:

  • Make your child wear the shirt and the trousers, with the shirt neatly tucked in.
  • Then, put on the black shoes.
  • Make him wear the hat in such a way that it is slightly tilted to one side.
  • Draw a thin moustache on your child’s upper lip with the black eye pencil.

Dialogue to say:

“Inquilab Zindabad (Long live the revolution). I am Bhagat Singh and I am a revolutionary, who fought for India's independence from the British.”

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Materials required:

  • Khaki or dark green, full-sleeved shirt
  • Khaki or dark green pants
  • Black leather belt
  • Dark green or khaki-coloured chart paper (to make the cap)
  • Two golden-coloured buttons (for the cap)
  • Long black boots
  • Cardboard (to make the medals)
  • Red and green ribbon (for the medals)
  • Golden-coloured paper (for the medals)
  • Glue
  • Safety pins (for the medals)
  • Black, metal-rimmed round spectacles

How to dress like Netaji:

  • To make the cap, fold the chart paper to resemble a paper boat, but slightly wider. It must have two pointed edges on opposite sides.
  • Cut coin-sized circles from the cardboard and stick the golden-coloured paper on them to resemble medals. Glue the coloured ribbons to the medals and attach them to the top of the breast pocket with safety pins.
  • Stick the two golden-coloured buttons to the cap with glue. The buttons must be aligned one below the other, on the front side of the cap. The buttons must be parallel to the line of the vertical fold.
  • Make your child wear the trousers and the shirt (do not tuck the shirt in).
  • Secure the belt over the shirt.
  • Let him wear the boots and tuck the ends of the trousers inside the boots.
  • Make him wear the spectacles and the chart paper cap, which should be worn slightly tilted.

Dialogue to say: 

“Give me blood and I shall give you freedom. I am Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, freedom fighter and leader of the Indian National Army.”     

Sarojini Naidu

Materials required:

  • Cream-coloured/light coloured silk sari with thin golden border
  • Cream-coloured short-sleeved blouse
  • White sari skirt
  • Long, beaded chain
  • Gold-coloured studs for the ears
  • Brooch
  • Small red bindi (sticker dot)
  • Sandals

How to dress like Sarojini Naidu:

  • Make your little girl wear the blouse and sari skirt.
  • Drape the sari on her in such a way that the pallu (end of the sari) is worn over the head and hangs loosely over the right shoulder.
  • Pin the brooch on the left side, just below the shoulder, to hold the pleats of the sari in place.
  • Let her wear the earrings and the beaded chain. Stick the bindi on your child’s forehead.
  • Make her wear the sandals.

Dialogue to say:

“I am not ready to die because it requires infinitely higher courage to live. I am Sarojini Naidu, poet and freedom fighter, also known as the Nightingale of India.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Materials required:

  • White linen/cotton dhoti
  • White cloth/cotton stole
  • Wooden walking stick
  • Metal-rimmed round spectacles
  • Skin-coloured swimming cap
  • A pair of brown slip-on footwear
  • Metal pocket watch with chain
  • Safety pin

How to dress like Mahatma Gandhi:

  • Make your child wear the dhoti, with one end going between the legs and tucked in at the back.
  • The dhoti must hang a little below the knee (but must not extend up to the ankle).
  • Drape the white cloth/stole loosely around your child’s shoulders.
  • Make your little one wear the skin-coloured swimming cap to give the illusion of a bald head.
  • With the help of a safety pin, attach the pocket watch to the dhoti near the right side of the waist. The watch must dangle on its chain for about an inch.
  • Complete your child’s look with the slip-on footwear, wooden stick and the metal-rimmed round spectacles.

Dialogue to say: 

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world. I am Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Father of the Nation and a national leader who campaigned against the British Raj.”

Subramania Bharati (Bharathiyar)

Materials required:

  • White dupatta
  • White veshti (dhoti)
  • White shirt
  • White scarf
  • Black coat
  • Black sandals
  • Vermilion powder
  • Kajal or black eye pencil

How to dress like Subramania Bharati:

  • Let your child wear the shirt tucked under the dhoti.
  • The dhoti must be worn in such a way that there are pleats in the front, while one end of the cloth goes between the legs and is tucked at the back.
  • Fold the scarf to make a triangle and tie around the neck, using the two ends to make a knot at the back.
  • Let him wear the coat over the shirt.
  • Tie the dupatta around the head like a turban.
  • Using the eye pencil, draw a moustache with the ends pointing upwards on your child’s upper lip.
  • Place a vermilion dot in the middle of the forehead.
  • Complete the look with black sandals.

Dialogue to say: 

"அச்சமில்லை அச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்ப தில்லையே

இச்சகத்து ளோரெலாம் எதிர்த்து நின்ற போதினும்,

அச்சமில்லை அச்சமில்லை அச்சமென்பதில்லையே."

"No fear, no fear, not even an iota of fear do I have!

Every one in this world may stand up against me; yet, 

I'll have no fear, no fear, not even an iota of fear!"

Rabindranath Tagore

Materials required:

  • Grey or any light-coloured, over-sized kurta
  • Loose, white pyjamas
  • Any light-coloured shawl
  • Wig with white hair (shoulder length)
  • False white moustache
  • White, flowing false beard
  • A book

How to dress like Rabindranath Tagore:

  • Make your child wear the kurta and pyjamas. The kurta should be full-sleeved and extend well below the knee.
  • Drape the shawl loosely around your little one’s neck and shoulder.
  • Let your child wear the wig, with the hair parted in the middle.
  • Stick the moustache and flowing, white beard on your child’s face.
  • Give your little one a book to hold in one hand.

Dialogue to say: 

“Freedom from fear is the freedom I claim for you, my Motherland! I am Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, writer and nationalist.”


Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

Materials required:

  • Black or dark blue coat
  • White shirt
  • Black trousers
  • Red or maroon-coloured tie
  • Black belt
  • A pair of black socks 
  • A pair of black shoes
  • Black, round-shaped spectacles
  • A thick, hard-bound book with ‘Constitution of India’ written in bold letters

How to dress like Babasaheb Ambedkar:

  • Let your little one wear the shirt, trousers, belt, coat and tie.
  • Make him wear the socks and shoes.
  • Neatly comb his hair towards the back with a side parting.
  • Let him wear the glasses. 
  • Ask your child to carry the hard-bound book in one hand.

Dialogue to say:

“Be educated, be organised and be agitated. I am B R Ambedkar, statesman, reformer and the architect of India’s Constitution.”

Mother Teresa

Materials required:

  • Plain white sari with a thin, dark blue border
  • White blouse or top (high-necked and full-sleeved)
  • White sari skirt
  • Plain rubber slippers
  • Metal cross symbol
  • Safety pin

How to dress like Mother Teresa:

  • Let your child wear the blouse and the skirt.
  • Drape the sari in such a way that the pallu covers your child's head. The end of the pallu should be just over the left shoulder.
  • Just below the left shoulder, attach the cross to the sari with the help of a safety pin.
  • Let your child wear the slippers.

Dialogue to say: 

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. I am Mother Teresa, missionary and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.”

Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi

Materials required:

  • Green silk sari with a gold border
  • Red shiny blouse/top with gold border
  • Shorts (to wear inside the sari)
  • Red dupatta (to use as turban)
  • Vermilion paste/half-moon shaped red bindi
  • False sword (made with cardboard and silver-coloured paper)
  • Chart paper (of any colour)
  • Golden-coloured paper
  • 1 paper plate (big size)
  • Silver and grey colour paint
  • Beaded costume jewellery
  • Sandals

How to dress like Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi:

  • Make your child wear the shorts and the blouse/top.
  • Drape the sari over the shorts, tucking in the folds.
  • The sari must be worn in the dhoti style (like the way Maharashtrian women wear) with pleats in the front, while one end is brought between the legs and tucked in at the back.
  • Drape the other end of the sari (pallu) around the waist.
  • Cut 2-inch strips out of the chart paper and stick the gold paper over it. Using more glue, make paper ornaments – a waistband, wrist and armbands with this strip of chart paper.
  • To make a shield, paint the paper plate with a mix of silver and grey paint. Bend a strip of chart paper into a U-shape and stick the two ends to the back of the paper plate. This will form the handle. Use dark grey paint to draw designs that resemble a shield.
  • Make your child wear the paper ornaments around her waist, wrist and upper arms.
  • Let her wear all the jewellery.
  • Use the red dupatta to make a turban over the head.
  • Draw a half-moon mark on the forehead with vermilion paste or use a sticker bindi.
  • Complete the look with sandals, sword and shield.

Dialogue to say: 

“Main apni Jhansi Nahi doongi (I will not give up my Jhansi)! I am Rani Laxmibai, the queen of Jhansi, and I am a brave warrior of the 1857 Indian war of independence.”

Fancy dress competitions are an important part of growing up. The next time your child participates in any such contest, let her take inspiration from these great national leaders.         

About the author:

Written by Sahana Charan on 14 January 2020

Sahana Charan is an independent writer and journalist with an interest in writing about health and wellness, environment, urban living and child rights.

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