India Insight

Kashmir: we love you, we don’t love your mini-skirt

Imagine this: some tourists, from India and abroad, fly to Jammu and Kashmir, and are eager to escape the confines of Srinagar airport and to get themselves a lungful of that pristine Himalayan air.

Upon arrival, they are advised to visit the official clothier’s outlet of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department before they hit the
streets. They need to make a stop there so they can shed any “objectionable” attire and don a traditional pheran to respect the “local ethos and culture” of India’s northernmost state.

Don’t like it? Go home.

It’s an impossible scenario in most parts of the world, but this idea — already the norm in conservative Saudi Arabia — is something that the Kashmiri religious group Jamaat-e-Islami, would like to import to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jamaat fears that tourists wearing mini skirts and other objectionable dresses could derail “the [Kashmiri] society from the right track.”

Labelling tourists’ clothing, which often veers to the casual and the revealing (it’s hot out there when you’re visiting five monuments a day!) as “cultural aggression against the Kashmiri Muslims,” the group has accused women tourists wearing short dresses, mini-skirts and other skimpy attire from the West as agents of “immorality and immodesty”.

Fashion and the church: Trousers for men only?

When in church, wear what the preacher tells you. So says the Synod Executive Committee, a decision-making body of the largest church in the north-eastern Indian state of Mizoram.

All women attending places of worship should refrain from wearing see-through dresses, clothes that expose the breasts or are too tight-fitting — and trousers — according to a dress code prescribed for Presbyterian Church of India members. The guidelines also say men must wear clean shoes and respectable suits.

Church attire has been a subject of discussion for years in the Christian-majority state, whose youth are influenced heavily by western fashion and hip-hop culture, and more recently the ‘Korean Wave’ phenomenon.

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