Saturday, 4 October 2014

What the hell is 'Indian' culture?

I feel compelled to write this blog after the outrage generated by the misogynistic statements made by someone as respected as Mr. Yesudas. Over the last 24 hours the social media is abuzz with the insensitive comment he made referring to how women wearing jeans is against Indian culture. 

“What should be covered must be covered. Our culture involves the beauty which should be covered. Women should not trouble others by wearing jeans. When they put on jeans, men are tempted to look beyond that (jeans). Women’s beauty lies in their modesty. They should not try to become like men. They should not force others to do unnecessary things by wearing jeans, which would give them magnetism,” - K J Yesudas



Now I could like most people who spotted the sexist comment from Yesudas, have overlooked it and walked on but I think it is time that people spoke out against it. A man of his stature holds a great deal of influence on the people and as is claimed by some sections of the press, his comments drew applause. In effect what he did was legitimise the thoughts of those who too felt women should dress in ‘a’ particular way. So what I now ask is to Yesudas and those who think like him – What is ‘Indian’ culture?

This will be the most complicated question to answer considering that we as a country are perhaps the most diverse community in the world. We have scores of religions. Within each religion we have hundreds of variations. Within each variation we have numerous regional variations. Within each regional variation we have more variations based on castes and tribes. We have no singular ‘Indian’ culture so who gets to decide what that culture is? This in itself in a mighty mountain of a road block but let’s try and assume there really is a singular Indian culture for the sake of moving forward with this argument. Also to keep this moving let’s for the moment overlook the absurd idea that we must somehow continue following our ancient culture even in today’s day and age for such a yardstick will open the Pandora’s Box where among various cultural practices we will have to go back to burning women alive on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands. So here we are in 2014 with the tiniest fraction of a population who question beliefs and the rest who just follow what is told to them. Unfortunately for the followers the ones educating them are ignorant fools themselves.

For instance, look at these pictures below:







Surely in the minds of all those cultural crusaders looking at this now, this is not Indian culture. This is immodest and is influenced by western cultures.

Mr. Yesudas, you are from the south of India and here is the truth you don’t know. The attire that you think is Indian or to be more specific, the attire you think is Keralite is in fact not the way it was till very recently in history. The reason our women started dressing that way is not because of ‘Indian’ culture but because of forced Victorian moral values. The dress that you think is Indian culture is actually the one that is western. 

Now look at these pictures below. They were shot more than a 100 years ago and this is how a section of south Indian women dressed.









Now go back to the earlier pictures of ladies in off shoulder dresses. Do they still look western to you? Do they look immodest to you? 


Well here is another shocker for your ignorant self for the majority of women were dressed as shown below.









It was only as recently as 1865 that a decree by the British Governor forced women to cover their breasts so if you really want to promote Indian culture then you will have to force our women to go topless. So please, I request you to apologise and go back to the people with this new found knowledge so that you don’t let those fools who applauded for your lousy comment feel that they were right. Firstly accept the fact that things change with time.Embrace that change for it is change that leads to progress no matter how uncomfortable you are with that change but despite that if looking at a woman dressed in jeans is stirring hormones in you then that is your problem not hers. Stay away from telling people how to dress. Close your eyes and look away if it is too much for you to handle but please shut up.

References:
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by  Edgar Thurston and K. Rangachari Volume 1 of 7
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by  Edgar Thurston and K. Rangachari Volume 2 of 7 
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by  Edgar Thurston and K. Rangachari Volume 3 of 7 
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by  Edgar Thurston and K. Rangachari Volume 4 of 7 
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by  Edgar Thurston and K. Rangachari Volume 5 of 7 
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by  Edgar Thurston and K. Rangachari Volume 6 of 7 
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by  Edgar Thurston and K. Rangachari Volume 7 of 7 

4 comments:

Beena Nair said...

Bravo and thank you for having BRAIN!! <3 Love it when a man, especially, can speak logically without being influenced by what he has been taught in society JUST because that is what he was taught :)

anusreenair said...

Awesome!!

Soumya said...

Change is a part of culture (my grandpa's words).......

Dr.K.J.Yesudas is someone who has been a part of cultural evolution. That's why, when he made the controversial statement, I thought if it was the onset of senility!! Hope, all is well with him...

Prashant said...

Class!!! Just loved it....