Dressed to Shame?

On the 25th of June, Tailin Lyngdoh, a 51-year-old Khasi woman was thrown out of Delhi Golf Club for showing up in her traditional attire, Jainsem. Lyngdoh works as a governess for one of the chief advisors of the Chief Minister of Assam. She came on an invitation to the club but was asked to leave minutes after she entered the venue. The authorities claimed that it was against the dress code of the club to be dressed “as a maid”

Reports also say that she was harassed by the club authorities who called her a “dustbin”.

Northeasterns around Bengaluru gathered at Town hall on the 7th of May 2017, to express their solidarity towards instances where people are harassed based on how they dress themselves. The event was hosted by the Northeast Solidarity Bangalore. Rini Ralte, who is the president of the organization, appealed the protesters to show up in their traditional attires and protest in silence. She said she wants to bring harmony and tolerance among identities of different communities across the city. She thinks we can achieve that by making visible, the dresses and cultures of the Northeast.

Ralte, while addressing the protest said, “This is the time when we need to represent and stand up for our true identity and not hide in shame for who we are. Let’s raise awareness among people about our histories and make them realize that we matter”. The crowd affirmatively lauded at this statement whilst waving tiny tricolors in their hands. Among the crowd were also a huge number of students and professors.

Wankit R, a student of fashion design said, “The Jainsem represents the identity of a woman who wears it every day and is the most modest, dignified, graceful, and elegant attire in Meghalaya. The same attire has been showcased in many fashion shows, including the Lakme Fashion Week and Fashion International London Fashion Week. The club has no right to distinguish between traditional Indian attire and that of a neighboring state.”

Jainsem - the traditional Khasi attire. Picture Credits: thenortheasttoday.com
Jainsem – the traditional Khasi attire.
Picture Credits: thenortheasttoday.com

A protestor from Assam, Batista Das demanded that traditional Northeastern attires be accepted as legitimate and “formal” as a saree is considered to be in this country. Das, who is a professor at Indian Institute of Science, said that she has faced similar instances in the city whenever she wore her traditional costume and that the protest is the need of the hour, especially when the community is fighting to reestablish their identity.

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Techi Nimi

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