Dear Manushi Friends,
I am really surprised at the deep upset and angry outbursts caused by M S Poonia’s article “The Political Economy of the Saree”. Some of the readers wrongly assumed that I had written the article. Several others think the article reflects my personal views on the saree.
Let me clarify at the outset that this is not the case. I am a great admirer of the saree as a uniquely sophisticated, gracious and yet simple garment. However, personally I don’t find it very convenient which is why my preferred daily wear is salwaar-kamez or churidar-kurta. This is not to deny that those women who wear it every day do not find it inhibiting in any way.
Articles published on our website or earlier in the print edition of Manushi do not often reflect my opinion or that of other members of Manushi Editorial Board. I would hate to live in a world where everyone agrees with all my opinions. Manushi has always positioned itself as a forum for open debate and discussion on important issues. We encourage unorthodox and contrary view points, provided they are not malicious or irresponsible.
We are publishing each and every response to give Mr Poonia an idea of the hornets’ nest he has stirred. I wonder if the responses to his views would have been as aggressive if he were a female feminist, instead of a male one!
I am glad this article has given rise to a passionate and heated debate. I had no idea the saree continues to strike such a deep emotional chord among both men and women, including those living in distant shores. This is especially surprising since there is no comparable upset about the fact that majority of Indian men—both rural and urban, educated and uneducated, elite as well as working class—have almost totally abandoned the various traditional dresses of their respective regions and taken to wearing pant -suits instead. Do women have always to carry the load of tradition?
However, in this case, I am glad most Indian women did not follow in the footsteps of men because the death of saree would mean sure death of the handloom industry in India. Our traditional weavers—the makers of the most exquisite fabrics—have survived mainly due to the fact that the vast majority of women in India did not abandon the saree and other traditional dresses. Unfortunately, our weavers have survived in abject poverty. To add insult to injury, they have been dubbed as belonging to “backward” and “most backward castes”. (To see a documentary film I made on this theme entitled: Banaaye Ajoobe, Kehlayein Pichhde (They produce wondrous products but are termed “Backward”) click here.
In the meantime, we share with our readers all the passionate responses that have come to us in defence of the Great Indian Saree!
Responses to Political Economy of Saree, by MS. Poonia
All Of Six Yards: इसमें तो है सारी बात !
I went for a walk fulminating over an article in which Vidya Balan's wearing of saris during her public appearances was portrayed as a disturbing issue for Bollywood's fashionistas. Of course, Bollywood has popularized the ball gown and the dress and at any given point in time, malls in the metropolis abound with women dressed in frocks. For a lot of women, the frock conceals age, highlights well toned and maintained figures, provides cool comfort and probably meets with M.S.Poonia's requirements of being able to get clothed in under five minutes. M.S. Poonia is the author of a piece "Political Economy of a Saree'', published in Manushi. Nona Walia was probably still unfocused after the Holi haze when she opined that Balan was trapped in a sari, because surely leading ladies in Bollywood aspire to be actresses first and clotheshorses later?
Manushi's editorial decision was definitely influenced by the extended North Indian Winter chill. Manushi's Editorial damage control after reader outbursts is decidedly stranger. It wonders whether the responses to the article would have been as aggressive if MS Poonia had been " a female feminist instead of being a male one." For starters, Poonia doesn't sound like a male feminist. He recalls the Police Officer from the South who opined that women dressing in anything other than sari were inviting rape. The only difference between Poonia and The DG from Andhra is that the former is convinced that saris promote easy access to rape, and are obstacles to escaping pursuit by ferocious animals and death by drowning. What a relief that both these cops are not invested with portfolios to supervise women's dressing because between the two of them they have in effect denuded the female populace of all items of clothing, providing substance to the belief that men constantly undress women in their imagination.
When Shashi Tharoor, of the clipped Stephanian English and Page Three elan wrote an epitaph on the sari as a dying garment, he was forced to withdraw the ill conceived obituary, reeling under the pallu backlash. Many women have their saris and love them too, and the stretch of sari wearing is not to be undone either by suave Tharoors or police officers who are fully dressed in five minutes to mark their attendance at the alarm parade in training school. Which brings on the curious question, " why exactly is there a "get ready in five minutes drill at police academies?' Must be part of some ancient voodoo rite because the average police officer is seldom available at any moment of unprecedented crisis within the half hour?
Take heart, Mr. Poonia. If your mother did not teach you to wear a sari, it was in keeping with heterosexual practice in patriarchal societies where daughters alone are required to learn this skill. So let us assure you that regular sari practitioners wear their saris in under five minutes, even if their mummies have not taught them to do so. No one takes two months to learn to wear a sari, because it does not involve rocket science. Wearing a sari has nothing in common with an alarm parade rehearsal since after having clothed themselves, women, unlike police officers on show, undertake a whole lot of duties most days of the week, whether they run homes, work in the fields, in factories, as manual labour or as skilled trained personnel, in rural and urban areas. And these days enough sites on the net will educate you into the mystery of the different ways of draping a sari,( yes there is more than one way to drape a sari and is region specific) and keeping it in place, which has flummoxed you. For sari-aspirants such as yourself, let us divulge a secret. The safety pin was invented a long time ago. Most sari clad women despite your fantasies do not have wardrobe malfunctions, which occur with moderate regularity in the case of stitched clothing.
Incidentally, the sari is a preferred mode of dress south of the Vindhyas, which is why your soul mate in the Andhra police wants women to wear them all the time. Saris as an informed observer has pointed out are worn in a variety of ways and without petticoats and blouses, and have a longer shelf life than most stitched garments, and often cost much less. If our grandmothers heard you on the sari's inability to cover the body, they would be baying for your blood, so try to discreetly study how women in real India wear their saris. We realize that your insights come from an overdose of the ramp.
The average sari is a longer-lasting garment and serves as a great multitasking accessory for women. Old saris are used by women as makeshift cradles to allow small infants to sleep. Grandmothers with nine yard saris would use soft fabric not only to wrap babies with, but also to mop up a whole night of baby piddle very hygienically, using fresh sections of the sari each time. Imagine the districts under your patrol without this environment and baby friendly technology. Our streets and drains would choke with disposed-off diapers and Johnson and Johnson would be producing mountains of diaper rash creams with no room to stock any other cosmetics.
Did you know Mr. Poonia that women in Bengal handcraft quilts and bedsheets for infants with old cotton saris, because they are so soft? Are you aware that the exquisite craft of Kantha came into being because women worked with coloured yarn from old saris within households to create aesthetic baby sheets? So the next time you see a dupatta or a kurta with kantha work, stand up and salute the sari. Saris double up as handkerchiefs and sunshades.Sometimes(surely you must have seen hindi films,) pallus are torn up to serve as very efficient instant bandage-strips.
Your doctor friends must also be aware of contact dermatitis that can result from tightly tailored clothing , metal accessories ranging from wrist watches to spectacles, synthetic garments and shoes for example? Have you all made any comparative study? If not, refrain from unleashing unfounded fears upon an unsuspecting populace with your skewered data from 140 women. You could shelter meanwhile under a jaipuri cotton quilt made from a mul sari or alternately use a traditional double sheet(the dohar) which also devolves from old saris expressly stitched for cool comfort.
And Mr Poonia, overweight and obese people on an an average are that way because of ill health and poor lifestyle choices. Ideally both men and women need to remain fit , not simply to measure up to your aesthetic standards but because of the benefits of great health. For the record, men and women who are fit look better in anything they wear, irrespective of whether it is saris or khakhi uniforms. There are many terrible things about patriarchy. One of them is that many men still presume to opine authoritatively about what women should wear, and many women rush to defend such men and extol their thinking. However Mr, Poonia, with apologies to Susan Seymour, isn't it unfortunate that there is no garment to measure the development of a male from puberty to adulthood? Or does this never happen? I am confident that Foucault would have intuitively responded to the sari and understood that each weave has its own history, and that each sari tells its own story. We wear sarees Mr. Poonia, because they are there!
I am not able to download the article you attach yet because of internet problems in the rural area where I reside. Until I do, I would like to state that the sari dates from a time when EVERYTHING expressed - quite spontaneously, and this is important to note - the philosophy (for want of a better word) of Vedic India. This is found in music, for example, where the background and essential drone or shruti is the 'sound of silence'. That is, sound does not arise out of a void, as in Western classical music. It is Fullness, ever and always. Hence the drone is everpresent and UPHOLDS the raga throughout. Within that structure there are endless variations once the correct foundation has been laid. In my view the greatness of Carnatic music (carried over to the North as well) is this faithfulness to the unique premise of all Vedic culture: Fullness, not emptiness, not the Void. Above all, NOT THE VOID. The drone is the medium to convey Fullness. An amazing feat, to give expression to that concept in the magnificent way it was done, unparalleled anywhere else on the globe.
The same with the sari: endless variation within a certain structure. This is its 'economy'. I doubt that the originators cared much about whether a woman was more or less 'vulnerable' by its use. You could go through almost every aspect of the surviving culture and you will always find that basic premise: Fullness, and within a structure that conveys Fullness there is endless variety and room for spontaneous invention. The latter was never eschewed as illusory or a lesser, inferior component of Reality. It was on an equal footing. This is what is missing today because invading cultures - non-Vedic essentially - brought in strictures that were entirely foreign to the Veda. India is still struggling to come to terms with an adjustment in this Age that honours the ancient concepts but is in a position to UPDATE that foundation, without losing any of its truth. It is a real challenge.
I should like to add after reading the article in question that women have been disempowered (patriarchal society) precisely because of the confusion that set in regarding FORM, IDOL WORSHIP, and hence the Goddess. When idols were eschewed across the globe, not only in Asia, then the fashioner of Form (the Divine Maya of the Vedic Age) went with them into the cosmic wastebin. When the Void became the new foundation, as it were, that sounded the death-knell for the Power to express itself through women. In a word, the function of Woman was undermined so thoroughly that today none can discover or uncover the ROOT of the original problem. And unless that is done, all the rest is superficial.
It is not a power that comes from outside. It is found WITHIN. But when material creation became mere 'illusion' and the Void and Nothingness were exalted as the ultimate truth, then the Goddess was doomed to sit in a corner and await her time of unveiling...
I think this article about the saree is absolutely ridiculous. The author may as well ask us to stop calling our selves Indians. What's wrong with him? Has any one asked him to wear a saree? During the first world war, when my aunt went to England, (self financed), as she walked down the gangway, in her silk sari, and two long plaits hanging in front, the british crowd on the shore nudged each other and said, look, she is an Indian Princess. Is this article now a propaganda to do away with our national dress, the saree and the Dhoti? Just as westernization has made Indian women stop growing long hair? In our culture, part of a woman's beauti was her long hair. Why not start a discussion on hair styles . It is so painful to see Indian women with short hair and with all kinds of hair dyes, that are so bad for the hair. Just the thought of a policeman trying to teach a woman how to dress makes me want to vomit. He is anti Indian, and anti national.
I am really surprised at the reaction of most of the commentators here why have they felt so agitated? it sounds nearly so as when we talk about the burqa. i really feel here is someone unconventional, showing solidarity to us in our vulnerabilities.i still feel it is important to acknowledge how a dress like a saree of which everyone in the world talks only in a positive context, has been exposed as to how it limits us women in our movements. i can not at all agree with the commentator here saying that she feels totally free in a saree. it is a fact that you cannot move as easily in a 6 meter saree as in a punjabi dress. of course the maharashtrian women workers in their 9meter long sarees may be feeling a bit more secure but nevertheless it is a big burden to carry 9 meters of cloth on your body on a hot day which is the norm in india. i have realised it in hot summer days that i prefer to wear very light malmal like covers on summer days and not the long saree. that is just a compensation for not being able to wear a bikini and stay in the swimming pool most of the time as they do in the west in summers. i wish we could afford it here in India too.
As i have mentioned in my earlier comment it is true that some statements made by the author are not totally right e.g. the time required to put on a saree or the price of a saree, but the other point made by him is still valid.The only thing that is disturbing me now is the question put by one bapa rao in which he calls mr poonia a police officer who has chased rajabala in ramlila grounds (baba ramdev event?)to death. please clarify if it is true.
A Saree - Oh! the six meters of femininity, elegance, beauty, grace....is a stupendous discovery by some genius. And, generations after have introduced variety (available in an amazing range of fabric) to suit perhaps every mood of an India woman....naughty, somber, sad, happy, contented, high spirits and many more. It can adapt itself to a funeral with as much ease as it can to a high profile party.
I would call the article ‘the Political Economy of the Saree', the work of a pseudo intellectual, trying hard to justify his stand with arguments that are shallow and arbitrary.
He begins by saying that ‘a dress is not merely a simple piece of cloth or a medium for saving oneself from the vagaries of the weather, it connotes much more than that. It is a medium of exercising power and control. It is important to keep this in mind while discussing the saree.' And, thus from here begin a series of contradictions. Immediately in his third point, he says that a saree does not protect a woman from the vagaries of nature and that clothes are worn to protect one from the vagaries of nature. Which piece of cloth does? How many pieces of clothes are designed with that intention? Do skirts protect you? Pants and shirts or our good old salwar kameez perhaps just imparts 2% more protection than a saree. And, may be Mr. Poonia has never seen a saree clad women very sophisticatedly accessorized with a coat, a cardigan or a pullover. See the potential of a saree here- how well it gels with any winter clothing. One cannot definitely wear a formal pant-shirt with an Indian cardigan on it. A saree allows that and keeps the grace factor intact.
The article questions the purchasing power of the 77% of the Indian population, earning Rs. 20/ day/ person, that cannot afford to buy a saree which accounts for a total of 10.5 meters of cloth (6mts + 2.5 mts + 1 mtr). Perhaps he means that they cannot buy a saree but can afford a salwar kurta or similar such dress. My dear, people in that bracket cannot afford to buy any piece of clothing; they primarily depend on donations. As for the 10.5 meters, how many poor have you seen matching their petticoat and blouse with their sarees. Well, it's easier to mix ‘n' match in a saree as the petticoat is not visible and a black, maroon or a white blouse practically goes on all sarees, irrespective of the colour, for folks in this bracket. So isn't it more economical than a salwar kurta, chaniya choli or any other popular Indian women's outfit. It's said that a saree is not as easy to wear as a pyjama or a pair of shorts. I really wonder how do I react to this. Who can compare a saree with a pyjama, shorts or even minis, for that matter. How can these pieces of clothing be our parameter for judging a saree. Haven't we all seen saree clad rural women and labourers breast feeding their young children with such a lot of ease and looking so very endearing. That's the beauty of a saree. It has its grace and elegance precisely because of the potential that it holds. Why should a man decide whether it's easy or cumbersome to wear. Please leave it for the women to decide. All you can remember is the potential that a saree holds - it can be draped in as many styles as there are states in India. And, that's not easy. And, why should it be? Can a pant - shirt, shorts or minis be worn in so many different styles. Also, it does not take one to two months to learn how to drape a saree. If that's happening with someone, I am sorry to say, the person is a slow learner and even two months would not suffice. Barring a few highly irregular ones, the rest do so in 3 to 4 minutes flat without help. (On a lighter note) even if help is required in some cases, it's so nice because it brings down the men on their feet - it's normally the husbands who do so. The point to note here is that it takes the same time, if not less, than what a man takes to wear his pant and shirt. A woman wears it and does forget the mechanics because there are some tricks of the trade which every woman knows and doesn't feel the need to share. She can be just as comfortable, running, sitting or walking in a saree as in any other attire. And, yes on being chased by a ferocious dog, a woman in a saree would be just as comfortable running as a woman in any other attire and more than the one in minis or skirt. It doesn't come in the way at all. Also, how many times do such incidents happen. It's illogical to demean a saree on the basis of such childish imaginary situations. Also, how many women who have unfortunately been raped were in sarees. When a woman resists such an act, she doesn't care about which way her attire is going. All she does is to protect herself. It's a baseless argument and again an evolution of the very creative mind of the writer. Till now, the moral policemen of the country had been advising women not to dress up provocatively and what they meant by this was may be the western styles of dressing, so as to avoid miscreants. Now here's an argument that tells woman not to wear sarees as they would be making it easier for the rapists. It's another question that the author has no idea about the ferocious mindset of a rapist but the question that bothers me is what should a women then wear? Self defense and taking preventive measures to avoid untoward situations is alright but then deciding your daily dressing with factors such as rape and all in mind, does call for some introspection on the part of the author. It shows a very chauvinistic male attitude.
A saree has also never been a reason for a woman for falling off a two wheeler. Accidents happen for women clad in other kinds of dresses also. It was amusing to read this argument.
Please note that sarees are very body friendly, they do not lead do allergies in any way. Even a salwar kameez cannot be worn without tying the thread. More than 65% of the male population does that in states like U.P., Bihar and may be some others as well. They are not so used to the idea of ‘Jockeys' or ‘Lux Cozi' there. So by that argument well over 90% of the Indian population suffers skin allergy. How comical!!!
How many men would say that a woman is an object of desire in a saree. Indian men are not tuned to consider the midriff as an object of desire, may be because they have grown up seeing their mothers and aunts that way. But yes, a saree can make a woman look very sexy and what's wrong in that. It's actually our faulty mentality. For us the definition of an Indian woman is ‘a siddhi saddhi homely girl with no desires and aspiration'. Why can't an Indian woman want to look sexy. Why can't she drape her saree artistically or club it with a designer blouse. Let's stop typecasting the ‘Indian Woman'. It's some queer thinking that's made the author derive whatever he does. As alleged, an overweight woman can never look obscene in a saree. The wide range of fabric come to her rescue and an intelligent woman need not be told this. Women enjoy wearing a saree, it makes her feel good, happy and content. Now if a man believes that that's form of exploitation and discrimination, that's again one of his misplaced thoughts and so be it....why should women worry about it coz a man would never know how it feels to be in a saree.
This is such a ridiculous article I don\'t know where to begin. The author seems to be unaware that there are many ways of wearing the sari including tucking it between the legs much like a dhoti. The sari is a version of the men\'s dhoti and as such is one of the most androgynous and versatile garments. If it impeded movement, how could women perform Bharata Natyam, one of the most vigorous dance forms, in a sari? A practiced wearer can put it on in under a minute (I can do this myself). I have run and climbed on to DTC buses in saris with no problem. It\'s also perfectly designed for Indian weather as it allows air to circulate freely between the legs. As for rape, does the author have evidence that fewer women are raped in areas where other dresses are worn, e.g. Africa, the Middle East? As for so-called modesty, every culture exposes some parts of the body and hides others (this is just cultural difference). By the author\'s logic we should all be covered head to toe in a shapeless garment.
I wear many types of dress and I find the sari the most economical. Most saris easily last a lifetime; unlike tailored clothing, they do not cease to fit if one gains or losses weight. This would have been even more the case in pre colonial times when blouses were not worn in many parts of the country. I find trousers extremely cumbersome (always slipping down the waist, needing a belt) or becoming too tight even after a meal, and very warm in summer.
As for accidents, the same is true of any flowing garment, e.g. the dupatta. Ever heard of Isadora Duncan who was strangled by her scarf?
And finally has it occurred to the author that not just men find women in a sari beautiful? Many women like to look attractive and beautiful and also find other women attractive in saris, notwithstanding the author\'s very limited ideas about feminism. Cotton and synthetic saris are available at very low prices in any city or village market. Generally much cheaper than a full salwar kamiz suit
After reading this insightful piece by Police Officer Poonia, I have a small question. Was poor Rajbala dressed in a saree as policemen like Shri Poonia chased her around Ramlila Maidan while bashing her to death?
It is said ‘Beauty Lies in the Eyes of the Beholder'. It is pathetic that the author of the article does not recognize the finer nuances and style quotient of the Indian dress ‘the SAREE'. I strongly disagree with his comments for the following reasons:
1. To start with, which other dress can stand in front of the vibrant hues of a ‘saree'? How boring the limited shades of the ‘so called' western apparels?
2. Even Mrs. Indira Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCO, looks much more elegant in a saree rather than in her ‘corporate' attire.
3. The late Mrs. Indira Gandighi, Former Prime Minister of India, gave a new definition to the elegance of the saree. Her impeccable way of wrapping the saree aroused applauds across the globe.
4. As regards the ‘sex appeal' of the saree, one can cite the example of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress - a foreigner, indianized over the years, looks ‘dignity personified' in the neatly folded saree with a long blouse. Amidst her whole day rallying, she never gets cluttered in handling her saree. Thus, it is up to the person as to how to ‘carry' oneself in a given dress.
5. With regard to time taken in wearing a saree, Ms. Deepiaka Padukone, the Bollywood Acress, well known for her very good dress sense, says that she can wrap a saree in just ‘30 seconds'. Thus, it is a matter of getting attuned and it comes over a period of time.
6. While dealing on the subject, it reminds the ‘malfunctions' that occur with short dresses on the ramp show much to the embarrassment of the models and the hype of the media. The various channels of the television churn out such incidents throughout the day much to the amusement of the viewers. How one can forget the awkwardness of Ms. Carol Gracias in one such incident ?
7. It is hilarious to read about ‘raping of a woman in saree'. In fact, it is those girls/women abysmally ill clad in short dresses provoke such incidents. There are many ‘Poonam Pandeys' to tickle the adrenalin of the youth.
8. Accidents do not take place only with women in sarees as pillion riders. Even girls in Salwar Kameez with long dupatta face such situations.
I work in a national resource organization well known for its international programmes organized throughout the year with participants across the globe. Whenever these women participants land in India, they capture the magic woven around a saree and its elegance. They invariably end up in purchasing a lot many sarees to carry with them. Finally, from the article, one gets a feeling that anything can be justified under the sun. However, in my opinion, the author miserably failed in his attempt.
Dear Poonia Sir,
More than a comment, I would call it an intriguing statement.
1.Saree is not a functional Dress: I would give examples from the experiences in Bihar, The kind of work, women traditionally have been engaging in, did not require the ease for which the elaborations are given in the above article. Cooking on Mitti ka Chulhas, Sex for procreation more than pleasure or Vice versa as I am still not clear on this, bringing up children (breast feeding), and other internal house hold chores.
2. Saree facilitates Rape: No doubt about it, the ease and time-efficient manner, with which it is done, can also explain the fact as why saree was chosen as a dress. The rural people in Bihar have different way of locating their sleeping place in the houses in general. Male sleep outside with other male and female will sleep inside the houses with other females except for the initial marriage years. Children of course sleep wherever they wish to sleep before they get married. Therefore, the time that rural people get for sex is usually lesser than normally these days when u have all the time to uncloth the female partner. Unlike, other seductive and entertainment programs, there were very few options available with people in the old times for entertainment,therefore sex turned out to be the one for male and only one for female. Saree would act to accelerate the seduction process to engage in sexual intercourse.
Women Drown Into floods In UP and Bihar: As I know the fooding habits, agricultural practices, festivals etc have been based on the kind of topography and climate the place has. I would wonder if people did not know about women drowned because of it. Conclusively: There are various political and economic reasons given as political economy of saree. I would have a different take on it. Patriarchy definitely is reinforced when talked about wearing saree but in terms of controlling the sexuality of women. Women were not allowed to go out alone, everyone knew that they are vulnerable to sexual assualts wearing saree made them more vulnerable therefore requiring men support for security, limiting their mobility and actions/functions.
All said in the context of the pre-LPG times. In the modern Era, when thoughts of liberty and freedom have emerged, it has demanded the mobility of women by enforcing the concept of women being the production factor/human resources. Optimising the resources would require women to work, if they work they would require different clothing. If women work, different kind of family concept would emerge. Time, place and space in the men and women relationship would change. Lastly, saree woud be considered as a deflator to economy.
Thanks for bearing with me, I cannot be as academically sound as you but logical for sure.
I find the topic very important from the perspective of women, who want to live an autonomous and independent life. I have always felt that though I did not look pleasing to many who appreciated me in a saree, saying I look so nice etc., I preferred wearing salwar kameez and pants nevertheless. I felt I did not always want to appear beautiful at the cost of my freedom to move. Sometimes when I am in a relaxed mood and have time to wear the saree, I enjoy it myself too. But I always feel that the saree inhibits my freedom, my movements and my deep urge to be challenging circumstances rather than being docile. So I totally agree with the spirit of the article, though I find some mistakes in some of the comments: it is not only economics the formost criterion for judging any dress. It is other criteria like aesthetics too. Secondly I know many rural women, who can wear a saree in five minutes and feel totally comfortable in tight petticoats and blouses, even while sleeping at night. But whether it is good for their health i too doubt. lastly a saree covers the overweight woman much better than any other dress, we have to acknowledge this.
I would suggest that we do not contribute to anti-saree culture per say. I am proud of saree as being an example of our ancient culture and yet I do not want to promote the culture of being forced to wear it always! Unfortunately many (rural) girls, after marriage, have to wear it.
Kashyp Bandu, close political friend of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah introduced Saree in Kashmir. It looked some social reform from a distance, but he wanted to insert the Indian Main Stream dress code in Kashmir. The traditional dress for Kashmiri Hindu woman was indeed was detailed and loaded with ethnicity of a evolved past, but perhaps tuned to the local conditions as well. Saree in no sense suits wintery Kashmir. But as we know, Saree is the main dress of Kashmri Pandit woman
Does it not appear that now someone is trying to change the entire culture of India/Bharat? I was told this time that there are two countries here -one is Bharat and other is India. Anyway, to justify everything you said, you may have to find out the origin of using Saree. When was it first used? What were the reasons? And why?
1. Economy does not seem to be a good argument because it is so long and takes more clothes costing more money where as western dresses are too short and cost less.
2. Layers of wearing usually protect people from inclement weather.
3. In older days people if thirsty could get water from the well easier than with any western dress.
4. I have seen women using half of it as a towel while still covering them with other half after bath.
5. They can tie something on the loose end, usually they tie their keys and in villages some shopping goods.
There may be many other reasons and benefits of Saree.
6. Ladies like Jhansi ki Rani has tied her son with a saree while fighting British.
7. They can also tie up a rapist or strangle him to death with it if they have that strength and get to a "Chandi" state. But the best thing is make our society such that men are human and respect and care for the women as equally as women do for men. Can you tell me what is happening there that such discussion ensued? God made these two genders for a reason and there shall never be same dresses or bodies for both no matter how much one tries.
I have gone through this article. It is simply stupid. The writer has probably never lived among people for whom Sari is not a formal but routine day-to-day dress. Large numbers of women in India engage in intense agricultural and other activities while wearing Saris. They know how to adapt their Sari to their purposes, they certainly do not and cannot afford to take more than five minutes to drape their Saris, and their daughters do not have to be trained for months in this art. The article is far below the standard of rigour and perceptiveness one has come to associate with articles in the Manushi. I am afraid it has been published merely for its provocative style.
As Indians we have always had to learn to bear with humor the bane of pompous sermons on anything and everything by empty-headed people who confuse seniority, wealth and status with wisdom and knowledge. So, Shri Shri Smart-on-Parade Police Officer Poonia Saar's disquisition on the Saree gave me a good nostalgic chuckle early in the morning. What impressed me the most about the article is the fact he is able to spell Political Economy. Or is that the gift of a spell checker, or perhaps a Manushi sub-editor who had a belated attack of "standarditis?" Now should we brace for another bunch of opinionated men (who would all look dreadful in sarees by the way) pontificating about saree and culture.
K.V. Bapa Rao
I hope, as compensation for bringing us Poonia's er, article, Manushi will give us an in-depth study of the IAS system which seems to specialize in taking smart young men and turning them into asinine soulless clods whose great contribution to the political economy is providing employment to guys who carry briefcases. (Since we don't get treated as often to brilliant nuggets from the distaff side, I imagine that the Ladies of the Steel Frame, burdened as they often are with family responsibilities on top of the job, manage to retain a degree of humility and common sense?)
K.V. Bapa Rao
FIND SOMETHING BETTER TO OCCUPY YOUR & OTHERS' TIME OR TAKE ME OFF YOUR LIST THANKS.
The only women in the world who cannot dress as they like are the Indian women. For me the fact that even the all powerful Indira Gandhi did not dare to wear anything but the traditional saree, however better some other form of dress might have suited her, whereas Indian men have always felt free to wear anything, is a sign of the subjugation of Indian women to Indian men. It will no doubt disappear at the same time as the caste based made marriage and dowry system. But in this matter the Indian man cannot free the Indian woman; she must herself fight for her right to be clad as she herself.
Thank you, dear Dr. Jasmer ji. I agree with you. Women in India are not only not free to dress up as they like but also do not enjoy equality. Let alone in dressing up, but they are not even allowed to live as indicated by women killing their own female fetus, bride burning, self immolation, etc., etc. which are heinous crimes perhaps happen there only. Believe me I have witnessed the after-scene of a bride burning due to dowry in early 1960s. Or are these done under the pressure of their men counterparts?
Never the less it does not answer why, when and how Saree came in to Indian culture? Are we not deviated from the subject?
Don't you think that Indian men are not very well educated to give equal rather more respect to women, concede to their rights and desires rather than women have to fight for their rights. Should gentlemen not fight the society for women's freedom? But the problem is how will men fight with their own self? It is also a fact that there are only two genders in human species, and if any one of them is unhappy due to other it has to be the other who needs to change or the other is responsible. After all no one whether woman or man can be tortured by any other species of life.
You know Dr. Singh, our Indian culture is so high and rich that even God -like Krishan or Ram, has to have a mother before doing any Godly works of eradicating sinners from this globe. No important work in the life of a man or woman in India is complete without a woman first -from birth, to naming a child, to marriage, to any Puja, ceremoney etc.. Perhaps that is why even for God it is first said mother then father, then brother, Sakha, Vidya, Dravya, etc. as said, "Tavmev Maataa Ch Pittaa, Tavmev Bandhush Ch Sakhaa Tavmev; Tavmev Vidya Dravyanim Tavmev, Tavmev Sarve Mam Dev Dev." Sometimes I wonder how come such a rich culture society could afford to fall so down. Is it the influence of slavery of over 300 years? I heard during ancient days women were chosing their own husbands, and there was no dowry. Is it all false? If so then what is the Truth?
It appears dhoti for men and sari for women are exclusive Indian wear surviving from the ancient past. It not only covers the body but provides much relief from inclement hot weather. Your objection may be seen in the milieu of modern crowded urban life and changing conceptions of decency and indecency. But this objection can be addressed to other forms of dress also, particularly the American hippy jeans. A lady dressed in tight jeans looks more obscene than a sari-clad woman. In my opinion it should be left to the good sense and taste of the people. I read that educated Bengali girls have already given up native sari in favour of the decent north Indian Shalwar-Kurta.