Wear loin cloth if against Westernism, designer tells Goa minister

Panaji : The controversy over a Goa cabinet minister’s demand to ban mini-skirts and bikinis in order to “protect Goan culture” refuses to die down, with ace fashion designer Wendell Rodricks asking him to to wear a loin cloth to work, skip chillies, tomatoes, potatoes, and stop using a table and chair at work if he believes in shunning Western influences and culture.

Rodricks’ open letter to “The Goan Minister”, does not name Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Sudin Dhavalikar but makes several allusions to the references made by Dhavalikar, who some days back demanded a ban on bikinis and mini-skirts to the beaches and night clubs respectively.

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The letter, which has evoked tremendous support in the social media, also said that the minister’s utterances made Goans seem “non-progressive, archaic and dangerously right wing”.

“Shirts (European), Pants/Pyjamas (Chinese/Central Asia), socks, T-shirt and baniyan; yes your underwear too (Jersey was invented in Europe), Kurtas (Central Asia, Ottoman, Moghul). That leaves you with a kashti or pudvem and a shawl or cloth to cover your torso. Will you agree to go to your ministry office in this attire?” asked Rodricks in his letter.

One of India’s top fashion designers and known for his minimalist style, Rodricks drew on sarcasm to maximal impact in his letter while also lacing it with historic fact.

“By the way, it was not in Indian culture for Indian women to wear a bra or a sari petticoat. The former came from France, the latter from Victorian England. Also, when the coloniser came to Goa, there were no cholis, except for the devadasis who used a kind of choli,” he said.

Dhavalikar had attracted controversy when he recently said: “Young girls wearing short skirts in nightclubs are a threat to the Goan culture. This habit of young girls wearing short dresses everywhere does not fit the Goan culture. What will happen to it if this continues? We should not allow this. It should be stopped.”

He also advised that women should stop drinking, “because it is not good for their health”.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar subsequently said Wednesday that while he agreed with the contentions of the minister which he heard over a private conversation with the latter, there was no question of banning bikinis on Goa’s beaches.

Rodricks, a Padma Shri award winner, also draws from his research undertaken for his book “Moda Goa: History and Style”, which documents the history of Goan costume.

“Since we are on the topic of Indianess, you will have to also stop eating potatoes, tomatoes, chilli, cashew, chickoos, pineapples and many other fruits, vegetables and spices that were alien to India,” he said, adding that Dhavalikar would also have to “cut off the power, throw out the table, chairs, computer, telephone, cell phone, aircon, teacups, Rolex watch, Mont Blanc pen. All paper and files too (both invented in China).

The designer also accused Dhavalikar of trying to kill the vital tourism industry.

“The fact is that we have a more progressive mindset than many states in the country. Opinions expressed should not be made until there is a knowledge of history and culture: We are a tourist state. Please do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs,” Rodricks said.