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Assam singer faces gender discrimination; barred from performance as she refused putting traditional chadar

By Abdul Gani, TwoCircles.net,

Guwahati: Even as several measures are being taken in minimizing the gender discrimination in the country, a female singer in Assam was barred from performing at a function, allegedly for not wearing a particular kind of dress.

Popular Assamese singer Zublee Baruah was asked not to perform on Friday night at a function organized to celebrate Bihu festivity at Guwahati’s Chandmari for not wearing ‘Mekhela Chadar’, a traditional outfit for women of the state.

Zublee Baruah
Zublee Baruah

“It’s an insult to an artiste by not allowing her to perform after inviting. I’m a responsible citizen and I know how to respect my culture. I was wearing a decent cloth which suits the ‘dress code’ of the organizers. It has also hurt my sentiments as a lady. I had to face this just because I’m a girl. Nobody ever asks such questions to a male singer,” said an angry Zublee.

Meanwhile, the organizers, The Pub Guwahati Bihu Organizing Committee, have slammed the artiste for not being “sincere enough” to respect the culture of the state and not wearing the mekhala chadar.

The singer went to perform along with other singers wearing a kurta made of local handloom made cloth, printed with local tribes’ image.

“We have not allowed Zublee to perform as she was not wearing ‘mekhela chadar’. We will not let such indiscipline in our event. We even asked her to change her dress before the programme but she was not ready to do that,” said an organizer.

It was a double standard on the part of the organizers as the members of the organizing committee and other male performers were in western outfit with jeans and tees, but female artistes were expected to wear traditional clothes.

The singer also said that to perform on the stage for several hours and to play some musical instruments is a bit difficult wearing ‘mekhela chadar’ which is wrapped around the waist.

“I have worn ‘mekhela chadar’ earlier and performed a couple days back. Even today also I would have obeyed to their words if the organizers themselves were clothed in fully traditional attire. How can they dictate terms on artistes?” she asked.

It has also triggered sharp reaction among the different walks of life. JP Das, a veteran singer of the state said that dictating terms like this on an artiste is condemnable.

“We condemn this act. Why Zublee has to face this? Is this because she is a girl? It’s time we should think these issues seriously,” Das said.

Women activists across the state have slammed the organizers for ‘insulting’ the artiste. “How can somebody dictate terms on what to wear and not to wear in a democratic country? This is just unbelievable. It’s also shocking that the people have not supported the singer in full voice. This is one of the most unfortunate incidents to take place at the present age. It seems that we are moving backward,” said author and activist Maini Mahanta.

She also pointed that till date nobody has dared to ask such things to male singers.

“Women’s bodies have always been markers of culture and honour. They are the biological reproducers of nation and hence the physical custodians of nation’s pride. In the context of deciding who is an ‘Assamese’ such contours got sharpened. And hence women’s attire in this case became the arena of contestation of identity while no such compulsion is seen on men,” said Parvin Sultana, a lecturer of Goalpara college.