All doors should open for traditional Indian wear
Raksha Bandhan and Independence Day are just round the corner, to be followed soon by the festive season, just the time when everyone brings out their ethnic finery. If you were to go to a mall or a restaurant in traditional Indian wear, would you be stopped?
Absurd as it may sound, the question comes up because of two recent incidents: filmmaker Ashish Avikunthak stopped at a Kolkata mall entrance (left) for wearing dhoti-kurta; and a Khasi woman, a dinner guest, being asked to leave Delhi Golf Club because the club thought her traditional jainsem was a maid’s dress. Three years ago, a Madras High Court judge and two advocates were denied entry into the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association office for wearing dhotis. And in 1982, writer-politician Shashi Tharoor was not allowed entry at his own sister’s wedding at Madras Gymkhana, because he wore a silk kurta with no collar.
Seventy years after Independence, is India still unable to accept its traditional wear? “One should be allowed to enter anywhere wearing a national dress,” says chefrestaurateur Sabyasachi Gorai. “In countries like Ireland or New Zealand, people wear their national dress and are allowed entry everywhere.”
Sumit Goel, owner of Gastronomica, is of the same view. He says, “Whatever the dress code, if someone is dressed in traditional Indian attire, they should be allowed everywhere. A few years ago, my friends and I had gone to Elevate, Noida, where we were refused entry because we were in Indian wear. But an African tourist, who was wearing her traditional dress, was let in.”
So, when is it justified to bar a guest from a restaurant or a mall? “Only if someone disregards decorum or creates trouble for other guests,” replies Saurav Sharma, owner of MRP. “It’s not up to malls or restaurants to judge anyone on the basis of their clothes.”
Private clubs have always created... distinctions because of clothing. Now public spaces are also threatened and a culture of segregation based on class is being practised ASHISH AVIKUNTHAK, FILMMAKER (AS POSTED ON FACEBOOK)
Tailin Lyngdoh (above left) was asked to leave Delhi Golf Club for wearing a jainsem; Shashi Tharoor was stopped by Madras Gymkhana for wearing a silk kurta with no collar