Clothing and Shaming : When Designer Sabyasachi’s Love For the Saree Went too Far

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Valluri Chandra Nikitha 

The saree is a ubiquitous garment in our Indian culture and is even seen as a symbol of it. A lot of us have grown up in households where sarees are so common that it is more than just an article of clothing. It may have emotional associations and may even be considered family heirlooms. Though the saree was deemed old fashioned and not edgy enough, it is making a comeback today.

For, the main credit perhaps goes to designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, whose exquisite sarees which are a blend of the traditional Indian craftsmanship with European influence on the patterns are wildly popular with the celebrities. His love for the saree is perhaps unmatched.

But at a recent event, this love perhaps went a tad bit too far. At the Harvard India Conference, he was quoted as saying, “I think, if you tell me that you do not know how to wear a sari, I would say shame on you. It’s a part of your culture, (you) need to stand up for it” While he has apologised for his remarks soon after the backlash, these comments are testimony to the deeply entrenched patriarchal mindset of our country.

Though it is positive to try to protect our culture, one cannot forced to do it and shaming women who cannot wear sarees in the name of culture is extremely wrong. Everyone has freedom to make choices, especially in the realm of fashion. This statement is reflective of the stereotypes that have existed in our country where any girl who does not wear traditional wear is seen as “immoral”.

Now, even though a lot of us have strong cultural and emotional associations with the saree since a large number of people have grown up watching their mothers and grandmothers wear it, at the end of the day, clothing is a personal choice and no one can dictate what another person can or cannot wear.

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