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Thread: Women and Western clothes

  1. #11
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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    Vannakkam: I feel it really is a matter of getting used to it ... clothing, that is. That goes in all directions. On the travel site IndiaMike, there is lots of chat on it, especially in Goa, where there are a lot of Europeans at beaches. The complaints center around Indians ogling mostly. Europeans are used to being scantily clad, at beaches especially.

    But anyone working there for any longer period of time would simply become accustomed to it.

    In Mauritius, a very multicultural country, the beaches were shared by all. So on the same beach you'd see Muslims fully clothed, Hindus quite clothed, and Europeans wearing next to nothing. Nobody ogled, nobody cared. That's the way it's been ever since tourism became the main industry. Still everyone played together, chatted with each other, etc. From an inner perspective, clothing is the layer outside the physical body, and a long way from the soul, where spirituality resides.

    I take exception to temples though. At temple, we should prepare, by fasting, bathing, bringing offerings, etc. It maintains the sanctity of the temple. Yesterday I was reading some reviews of a large North American temple, and one person gave a very negative review simply because the management had asked her to cover her shoulders.

    Here at out temple, besides the really casual, we get men wearing ball caps, and lots of times people don't bother removing their winter jackets. Sometimes I feel people think it's a bus stop or a local garage.

    We do ask for the caps to be removed. In fact, more often than not, it's the men who are the 'offenders'. This is common on North America, and the reason I always dress Hindu, veshti for the south style, and pajama for the north style. Yes, I really look out of place, but a few people admire it.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    What you say is very true, EM ji. When people get used to it, they will not look, even in India. This is the right attitude.

    But my point-of-view is different. I feel that women should dress always like the way they would to a temple, because it would cultivate humility and move away the focus from the body and feeling good about it. I am not saying Western clothes are bad, I just feel they are form-fitting and too good to look at, gives one sense of attractiveness.

    Doesn't anybody vote for me? (No, no, I'm just kidding, I don't really mean someone should vote for me).

    EDIT: Wearing the most humble clothes such as a fully-covered Sari, to me, is akin to wearing 'Thiruneeru' in the forehead. it constantly reminds one that body is afterall a vessel to carry out one's day-to-day functions and is not a medium for anything else!
    Last edited by Viraja; 06 October 2014 at 10:29 AM. Reason: Added portion under EDIT.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

  3. #13
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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    Quote Originally Posted by Viraja View Post

    But my point-of-view is different. I feel that women should dress always like the way they would to a temple, because it would cultivate humility and move away the focus from the body and feeling good about it.
    Vannakkam Viraja: I absolutely agree, but that's on a personal level. I think we need to make a distinction for ourselves versus others. I don't feel I have the right to say how others should dress. It's a free world, after all.

    Personally, and for Boss, we're always modest. Not necessarily Hindu, but modest. I don't wear vibhuthi or pottu or veshti out in the west, because I just don't want the stares and or questions. It's too much of a hassle. In India on pilgrimage, it was a totally different matter.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam Viraja: I absolutely agree, but that's on a personal level. I think we need to make a distinction for ourselves versus others. I don't feel I have the right to say how others should dress. It's a free world, after all.

    Personally, and for Boss, we're always modest. Not necessarily Hindu, but modest. I don't wear vibhuthi or pottu or veshti out in the west, because I just don't want the stares and or questions. It's too much of a hassle. In India on pilgrimage, it was a totally different matter.

    Aum Namasivaya
    Speaking for others as Yesudas did, I do not know his actual reasons - saying it would tempt men to misbehave is completely robbing women of their rights to wear whatever they are comfortable with -- btw, not all women are the type that tend to feel good about their body. There are many blessed souls who have conquered or are not born with this deficit, they wear Western clothes for their comfort and practicality and cut their hair too, and are yet humble and personable. (I am not one of those, I have a tendency to feel good/wanting to feel good/still need some more humility and to me, Western clothes are somethings that would aggravate this tendency).

    But, there are people who advocate banishment of Western clothes for the sake of reviving the usage of Indian dressing styles -- for preserving cultural heritage. To them, I respect their views. Because, doesn't Indian heritage really feel threatened if everyone should discard using it? But, as you said, situations vary, people (women) should have the freedom to atleast enjoy themselves feeling good in Western clothes once in a while, when the situation sanctions it.

    Thank you.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    Vannakkam Viraja: I (very personal opinion here) think when some man speaks out that clothing will tempt men, what they are really saying is that it tempted them personally. Some people like to project their personal gut reactions onto the entire society.

    But hey, that's just me.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    Namaste Viraja ji & EM ji

    I agree that women shouldn't display themselves like a "sensual show piece" but expecting them to be covered from head to toe (or should i say neck to toe :-) ) is also a show piece attitude.

    I am also aware, nowadays women use their beauty and sensuality to their advantage.

    But we have failed to learn from Mahaa Bharatham :-(

    Out of the 100 brothers, Dushshasan's death was the worst. Even though he was ONLY carrying out Duryodhan's orders, Dushshasan's hands were plucked out, blood from his chest was used to wash Draupathi's locks.

    Punishment given to Dushshasan is meaningless if we nurture the modest dress code attitude.
    Anirudh...

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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    I know this is a conversation about women's attire and how it would be nice if more women dressed in traditional attire. My first reaction goes a bit off subject, but I feel it is a valid response.

    But before I get to that response, I agree with Anirudh's comments which are very well thought out. I know for a fact that during the Chola period and prior there was a time when women wore less clothing than even today. Now if we turn the clock even further back to Vedic times, honestly I think while some women were wearing perhaps revealing clothing to our tastes, yet they seem more conservative then between 200BC to 700CE, so the "fashions" changed over time and later we had the Islamic invasions and many women were initially forced to wear a hajib (not talking about burka) yet then even non-Muslim women starting liking it as a fashion even. I like the salwar kameez on women myself with scarf thrown back around the neck, and actually a sari can be more revealing than what my daughter wears which is not revealing at all and most of the time a hybrid of salwar kameez without the scarf but using modern (not jeans) almost dress-business pants and sandal like slip on shoes.

    Really it comes down to the situation, setting, but most important of all the INTENT or message of the attire. And like Anirudh says, the values of the society.

    However, my perspective on the values of society is, a "nation" actually (at least today) consists of not ONE society but many "mini" society. And often, I see attire as a uniform of message and not just convenience.

    And it applies to both women and men.

    Where I live, there is one society that is disgusted with the obvious pornographic message of attire worn by both women and men. But as worse, if not more worse, is an attire I call the "hat on backwards crowd" whose message is VIOLENCE and rude attitude. And once they put on this UNIFORM of violence and total attitude, disrespect in public, really a form of GANG uniform, then shortly they ACT OUT violence, rudeness, disrespect, and we then encounter such backward barbarians in public such that at times we are sick of even gojng outside and in the public even though these thugs and goons are the minority.

    I literally hate them now, and I know the word hate is strong, but I feel strongly now that they do not deserve the allowance and "freedom" to act out their antics and violence and attitude, and I know them because of the "uniform" they wear and while it seems unfair, I now support profiling by the police and society that those in such a "uniform" represent a message that should be suspect. Certainly I would never hire them for a job.

    So in one way, attire is important. What is the message of the attire? We have a right NOT to associate with some others at many levels. "Anything" does NOT go, is not "ok" nor is it about "freedom". It is NOT ok to walk into a temple wearing the hat on hackwards crowd attire with the pants hanging down the back exposing underpants (even those "fake" underpants), and this is attire worn by men of such uncivil society, and if I could have my way not only would they be taken out but in my opinion arrested and in no kind way.

  8. #18
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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    Very true, SF ji, the intent in any attire is very important.

    Even in Sari these days, if you watch the movies, there is a lady artist assigned purely for the 'glamour girl' role and even if she wears Sari, she is into an extreme version of it that reveals skin the utmost and serves the purpose of bringing glamour to the scene.

    So, in whatever culture it is, the intent of dressing purely plays a role in either promoting or demoting the predominant culture.

    So it could be Western clothes or traditional Indian clothing, if worn in decency and modesty, serves to elevate the dharma of the surrounding and the opposite if not.

    Thanks for highlighting this point.

    Anirudh ji, I do not know about Dushashana's death. How cruel had it been! But what way do you feel Draupadi and her dress code has had any role to play in his death? (I know about Dushasana disrobing Draupadi earlier). Kindly educate.

    Thanks and regards.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    Namaste ji,

    Anirudh ji makes some great observations on how cultural norms change, and agree there is a large disservice done to all peoples the earlier western cultures/abrahamics imposed on more illuminated and mature cultures that has helped to create some of the problems seen today. This is something difficult to correct. My own feeling is that after the extreme repression of the Victorian and Edwardian eras here in the west, what we see in dress styles today is a huge reaction in the farthest opposite direction. Eventually I think a balance will come.

    I completely agree that traditional dress should be worn at Temples and other sacred spaces. But I have to say, as a Western woman, no matter how much I love how Saree looks, I have trouble with it. It doesn't feel humble to me but dressy and I feel far more exposed and half naked in Saree, even though I know I'm not. It's the tight Chole exposing the midriff I think. The Saree could be wrapped around it 10 times and I think I might still feel exposed and uncomfortable. So at Temples I always wear Shalwar Kameez suits or Kurtis over business slacks. I love the way they look and feel, and kind of wish I could wear them out more often... I always worry I'll offend someone if I do though. There are several people at the Satsang I go to, usually young adults, who will go in jeans and shirt, they stick out. I've seen it even at some festival days.

    My daily dress is long and baggy clothes, so at work I am in slacks/suit pants and a covering blouse, often with a big sweater or jacket. At home, baggy jeans that allow freedom of movement or sweat pants and a large baggy Tshirt - usually in the largest size I can find - that falls past my hips and if needed a hoody sweater. I just feel more comfortable in this kind of dress. There was a time I would buy men's sweaters sometimes because they're so big. LOL

    I also agree we should try and stay within the cultural norms when we are in another culture. It seems to me having spoken to some American friends who have traveled to India and surrounding countries, they seem to have the idea that "Dress Modestly" means a tank top covered by a gauzy button down shirt and khaki shorts or tight jeans and fitted Ts. When we went, we wore Kurtis with Shalwar/Pajama or Churidar. We still drew some stares, but far less I think and most seemed to be surprised smiles. A few times people even complemented on our dress, so I think it was appreciated. And it interesting as well that we were in India for 3 weeks and I only got eve teased once, and then it was a little kid trying to be funny, so I really don't count it. I wonder if it would have happened more if we were in western dress.

    Having said all the above, I just want to qualify some of my statements by stating I do think there is a difference between feeling someone is dressed immodestly and saying its their own fault and none others if they are harassed because of it. There's a fine line there one can easily start to Blame the Victim. The fact is that such behavior as eve teasing and harassment towards anyone is wrong and "blame the Victim" excuses are only that. There should be no excuse, and allowing them only enables and perpetuates the problem, devalues the humanity of the victim and shuts down potential positive discourse to solve such problems. Where this kind of degradation of any person in a society exists there can be no maturation of culture.

    ~Pranam
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    What has Learning profited a man, if it has not led him to worship the good feet of Him who is pure knowledge itself?
    They alone dispel the mind's distress, who take refuge at the feet of the incomparable one.
    ~~Tirukural 2, 7

    Anbe Sivamayam, Satyame Parasivam

  10. #20
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    Re: Women and Western clothes

    Dear Aanandinii ji,

    I respect your views. Regarding the fact that you feel Sari is dressy and exposing, I would just like to say that originally sari (or rather the choli) is not designed to be that way. If you look at olden day pictures, you can see that cholis worn are almost always high-necked, with long sleeves and long, long shirt length, it is almost like a shirt worn inside of the sari . Even now with the present short length, if the sari is worn properly on top of it, it covers the flaw that the choli is short, but some models and those in glamour industry have made it a trend to make sari look as sensual as possible .

    The only reason I feel saris are modest because the pleats wrapped on top of each other and the way a decently worn sari (over the chest area) covers the entire chest, and the sheer length and loose-fit on the bottom (that is, not fitting close to the legs/thighs), makes it less sensual than pants and tops but that is just my opinion. It may be the cultural up-bringing that tames to mind to think in a particular way, I do not know. When I was a school-goer, in the school I studied, as soon as one went to high-school, they have to wear 'half-sarees' and only this was considered modest. So this upbringing might be influencing my thinking pattern and observation.

    But I agree with you that eve-teasing and victimizing someone based on one's perceived notion of other-peoples' modesty are wrong. Eve-teasing violates human rights and it is not agreeable even in any cultural set-up. But, one cannot change the entire society and culture such as in rural places in India, and as such, it will be most prudent to dress like the way you have when you visited India. Also, to preserve one's traditional culture, youth and females of India should support saris/half-saris/salwar-kameez and the like. It is sad that many Indian youth, especially those in Metropolitan cities consider traditional Indian clothing to be 'backward', 'primitive', 'country-style', etc. (I went to a fashionable college and I have noticed this attitude among many girls from affluent families. To them, only others wearing Western clothes were trendy and 'educated' ).

    Thanks & Regards,

    Viraja
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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