Of Dress Diktats In Odisha & Elsewhere: Now Even Saree Is Indecent For Culture Cops

Bhubaneswar: Is India turning into a Taliban state? Culture police dictating dress codes has once again reared its ugly head in the country.

In the latest incident, the manager of a New Delhi restaurant stopped a saree-clad woman for not being dressed smartly enough. “Ma’am, we allow only smart casual and saree is not counted as smart casual,” a gate manager at Aquila restaurant can be heard saying.

Also Read: ‘Saree Not Smart Enough’: Delhi Restaurant Issues Statement On ‘Unruly’ Female Customer

A video of the exchange of words between the manager and miffed customer on Sunday (September 19) has since gone viral.

On its part, the restaurant has now issued a statement along with CCTV footage of the complainant ‘slapping’ the manager.

But diktats on dress code and what is deemed appropriate wear have been a running bane in the country, and even Odisha too had its share of the same.

Relaxation In Court Wear

In May last year, the Orissa High Court relaxed the dress code for advocates amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In view of the ongoing pandemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19), under the prevailing circumstances, the learned Advocates appearing before the High Court of Orissa through Virtual Court System, as a precautionary measure, need not wear black coat and gown and are advised to wear plain white shirt / white salwar-kameez / white saree, with a plain white neck-band till the medical exigencies exists or until further orders,” an HC circular read.

Also Read: Corona Effect: Orissa High Court Relaxes Dress Code For Advocates

The circular came a day after the Supreme Court had decided to do away with jackets and long gowns for judges and lawyers during hearings via video conferencing.

No Jeans For Govt Staff

In December 2020, the Maharashtra government joined the bandwagon of imposing dress codes by barring all government employees from wearing jeans, T-shirts and slippers in offices.

In a recent circular, the government said women employees should wear saree, salwar, churidar-kurta, trousers with a kurta or a shirt and a dupatta if required; men should wear trousers and shirts, The Indian Express reported.

Also Read: No Jeans, No Mobiles: Of Dress Codes & Distasteful Diktats

It also advised employees against wearing “clothes with deep colours and strange embroidery patterns or pictures”.

Only ‘Decent & Formal Attire’

Earlier this year, the Madhya Pradesh government had issued a circular that barred government officials and employees in the state’s Gwalior division from wearing faded jeans and t-shirts in office. Instead, they were asked to wear “dignified, decent and formal attire”, an NDTV report stated.

No Jeans In Secretariat

In 2019, the Bihar government had reportedly issued an order that banned all employees, irrespective of rank, from wearing jeans and t-shirts in the state secretariat. Instead, they were asked to wear “simple, sombre and light-coloured attire” to office.

Sarees For Students

In 2018, the then Rajasthan government came up with a dress code for students, asking them to wear salwar kameez or sarees on college premises instead of “western outfits”. The rule, however, was revoked after receiving a lot of flak from students.

No ‘Pakistani Name’

The owner of Mumbai’s iconic Karachi Sweets was forced to cover the word “Karachi” on the billboard with newspaper after a Shiv Sena leader, Nitin Nandgaokar, seemingly threatened him to change the name of the shop, The New Indian Express reported.

As a video of showing Nandgaokar asking the Karachi Sweets owner to change the name of the outlet went viral, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had to step in to control the damage. The Sena spokesperson tweeted that the demand for changing the name of Karachi Bakery had nothing to do with the party.

No Mobiles For Girls

In 2014, a khap panchayat in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh banned the use of mobile phones and wearing jeans for girls. This year, the panchayat advised men to not go to public places in half pants as it is “distasteful,” according to an ANI report.

Swag Shout

On the other hand, Pepsi launched an advertisement centred on the pop-culture word “swag” to decry dress codes.

The beverage brand’s high-decibel summer campaign “Har ghoont mein swag” (swag in every gulp) targeted millennials by highlighting their attitude of self-belief which leads to self-confident actions, Mint reported.

The ad featured a young college student who stands up to the principal who has imposed a strict dress code on campus. The film highlights how millennials are taking on the arbitrary rules imposed on them albeit with a hint of swag.


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