Sunday, August 26, 2012

Going Top-less...

India seems to have been gripped with a strange but unspoken competition going on within its boundaries. States, cities, organizations, individuals, just about everyone seems to be busy taking on everyone else in a battle of wits. The only catch being, in this battle of wits, everyone appears unarmed !

Just a few weeks back, the management of the famous Mahalaxmi Temple in Kolhapur (Maharashtra) decided to impose a dress-code for the women devotees visiting the temple. But before they could hog the media limelight, some alert ‘social activists’ from the city of Ranchi declared that females who preferred wearing jeans would be greeted with acid attacks. Though these well-meaning ‘social activists’ didn’t confirm that the acid would be that contained in their own skulls.

While just the other day, the professors of a college in Bareilly, denied entrance to female students into the college campus. Why ? Obviously… the girls were dressed in jeans and tops. (More here)

It appears to be a really sorry state for the Indian male. With the females being the center of attraction of all and sundry (right from Guwahati to Mangalore) the Indian male can just sulk in frustration. I mean, a girl who is covered up from head to toe, revealing no more than 15% of her skin gets more raised eyebrows than a poor guy standing topless on the road. Why ? Just because the girl is attired in western clothes on Indian land. So unfair !

According to the management committee of the Mahalaxmi Temple, it was observed that majority of women visited the temple in western attire. It doesn't look decent and also distracts attention of male devotees.” (More here)

And all this while, I thought a temple was supposed to be for the worship of Gods and Goddesses and They should have been the ones examining the devotees. Not the members of some committee. And shouldn’t the male devotees be concentrating on their devotion to the Gods instead of the girl standing besides them ? Ahhh… but haven’t I always reveled in the bliss of my ignorance !

And strangely, the Mahalaxmi Temple is dedicated to Goddess ‘Shakti’, the goddess of power ! When asked if the temple committee plans similar rules for male devotees, committee members said that there was "no need for dress code for male devotees". Errrr… excuse me, but shouldn’t it be the male devotees who should be properly dressed while visiting a Goddess ?

The professors of the college in Bareilly claimed that wearing jeans spoils the college environment.” Of course, the male students and the male professors (many of whom themselves were dressed in jeans) would be expecting any and every girl dressed in jeans to break into an ‘item song’ on the campus. Detrimental to the studies… I tell you !!!

Strangely, sometime back the professors of an ‘all-girls’ college in my own city were in the news as they banned jeans for its students. And there weren’t even any male students or professors in that college ! 

And all this while, the ignorant me thought that the issue was about the showing of skin. (exclusively related to females, obviously)

Though, of course, skin show is sacrilege. For a female, that is. A man wearing an ill-fitting t-shirt and shorts is welcome to fold his hands and pray in a temple (I’ve witnessed it many times myself), but not a girl who forgets to cover up her head. I was a bit confused when I saw the male priest of a famous temple performing the ‘aarti’ with just a ‘dhoti’ tied around his waist. The ‘Tissot’ watch on his wrist was obviously ‘western’. Though he didn’t have a baseball cap on his head. Or any other head-gear for that matter. If the dress/decency aspect is to be considered, then how, he was the most eligible person to be nearest to the Goddess was something my idle brain couldn’t comprehend.

So, jeans, shorts or skirts are western. And thus, are strictly forbidden. But why just for girls ? Ohh… boys don’t wear skirts. So, jeans and shorts are fine for boys. But I wonder why don’t boys test the waters by trying out skirts. Maybe that will be fine as well. But as long as one is a good, cultured Indian girl, jeans, shorts and skirts are forbidden. No wonder the young girls from the village ‘Asara’ collectively burnt a bonfire of jeans and other western dresses in favor of a 'directive' dress code by their elders recently. (More here)

When a Sunita Williams walks smartly dressed in a pair of jeans, she is ‘Bharat Ki Beti’.

When a Saina Nehwal wins an Olympic Bronze wearing a short skirt, she is ‘Bharat Ki Shaan’.

Ahhhhh….. where was I ???

Last week while blog-hopping, I stumbled on to a story of a young American girl who has been going around topless in New York State since 1992 to raise awareness that it's legal for a woman to be topless anywhere a guy can be without a shirt. According to her, she was harassed by middle-aged men while debating going topless with passersby (including one man who said topless women are "going against God's law"). So you see, God’s laws are not just a boon to India. They are fortunately available all around the world. But it is in India, that those ‘laws’ can be effectively put into practice (exclusively to females).

August 26th is ‘International Go Topless Day’. But our society believes in celebrating our ‘top-less-ness’ all the year round. Our top floors are ever so empty !

(Image courtesy : Google Images)


  1. Have you seen the new Scooty Pep advertisement?
    Honestly, I think sarees are WAY more exposing than jeans.

    1. cricketfreak :

      I haven't seen it yet. But sarees or otherwise... should it matter really if it is more exposing or less ? Though you have pointed out a valid point that sarees expose more skin than many other dresses. But a saree is considered okay just because it is Indian in origin.

      The main point is that the Indian society isn't mature enough to simply mind its own business instead of caring about how a female dresses herself. And I don't see it maturing anytime soon. :-/

  2. Brilliant post. And covering of skin has nothing really to do with Indian Culture. Do you know around a 150 years ago, women in Kerala (and I am sure, a little earlier in all other parts of India) never wore blouses? The British introduced the blouse in Kerala (and also in Bengal, where it was considered fashionable to wear a blouse).

    Some 150 years back the women in kerala launched a feminist revolt for the right to cover their breast, women in kerala were not allowed to cover their breast; mostly this rule was applicable to lower caste women, when someone from higher caste would come she should show her breast to cover ones breast was considered a sign of immodesty. Brahmin women can cover their breast while venturing out but at home they had to be topless, shatriya women cant cover breast infront of brahmins and lower cast women couldnt cover breast infront of anyone. The cloth worn on lower part couldnt be lower than the knee.

    I think in most of ancient india women generally were topless, there are some mention about this is kamasutra. If you think about the climate in india, generealy hot and humid most of the time, i would say being topless is the right way.
    Coming back to kerala, what lead to the change in the topless trend was apparently the contact with the brits. Some people converted to christianity and as per european standards started wearing upper body garments, the higher caste people beat the shit out of such women, slowly the contact with britishers and rest of india made topless out of fashion, women started feeling ashamed of being topless, it made them feel inferior.

    "Coming back to kerala, what lead to the change in the topless trend was apparently the contact with the brits."
    The same thing happened in Nagaland, in Mr Balvinder's post ( ). Today we claim this is our culture!

    1. indianhomemaker :

      First of all, thanks for reading and appreciating the post. And also for the detailed account you mentioned in your comment.

      I think the way a population dresses and behaves changes with times. The change may be due to a variety of reasons. And it does not happen overnight but takes years and centuries to change. So the people who label something as being the culture since ever are wrong.

      Reading your comment, I could relate again that how a woman chose to dress what not as per her wishes even 150 years back. She had to dress as per she was told. And it seems to be the same even now.

      But as much as being topless is concerned, I don't think the Indian society is matured enough to be okay if a woman decides to go topless. It is absolutely cemented in the mindset of our society that skin-show = sex = wrong.

  3. My comment disappeared!!

    1. indianhomemaker :

      Maybe some technical problem. Got your comment now. :-)

  4. Hey, you have a nice blog. I would like to subscribe by email, but don't see an option. Can you activate it, please? Thanks!

    1. storyofwomen :

      Thank you so much for your nice words. :-)

      Did you try the subscription link at the top right corner ? I don't know if it works so I'll check it.

  5. Wow love this post. Good to see that are some men out there you think like you do Shobhit. Stumbled upon your blog through IHM's blog and really enjoyed reading your posts.

    1. Bhavna Shivalkar :

      Thank you so much for visiting, reading and liking my posts. :-)

      Please do visit again.



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