This year, the length of your hemline will measure the extent of your devotion. If you're over 13-years-old and stepping out for Ganpati darshan, then watch what you wear, as the powers that be at Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti could throw you out of their holy sanctum if the length of your clothes falls 'short' of their expectations.
The popular mandal in Andheri (East), better known as Andhericha Raja, is imposing a sartorial law on visitors this year which bans short clothes - shorts or skirts - owing to alleged 'problems' it faced last year when celebrities and college students entered the premises dressed 'inappropriately', which samiti members found inconsistent with the religious nature of the occasion.
The 46-year-old mandal is recreating Rajasthan's well-known Dilwara temple this year, and is expecting a huge turnout from members of the Jain community. Raju Savala is creating the replica over a sprawling area of 4,500 square feet, with 60 pillars forming a part of the structure.
The mandal's decision was reportedly spurred by the fact that its committee is peopled by elderly members whose sensibilities were discomfited when young people allegedly entered the pandal to seek blessings but ended up creating an 'unpleasant environment' with their 'revealing clothes'.
For the sake of fairness, the mandal has decided to impose the ban not only on visitors but also volunteers over 13 years of age from wearing short clothes.
Uday Salian, spokesperson for the Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti, said, "This was a unanimous decision taken by the committee, as we all think there is need for some decency with respect to clothes that are worn when people enter a holy place. We planned to do this after realising the unpleasant environment that was created last year when certain celebrities and college students had come wearing such revealing clothes."
He continued, "We will also put a banner decreeing that the entry for people over the age of 13 and wearing short clothes is banned in this pandal. We have also instructed our volunteers to keep watch on the queue and stop people who are seen in such clothes."
Early this year, a few churches in Mangalore imposed a dress code on churchgoers, banning them from entering the premises sporting sleeveless tops, T-shirts with messages, short skirts and tight jeans.
At the Guruvayur Temple in Kerala, devotees have to maintain a strict sartorial code - men are to wear a mundu around their waist, while they remain bare-chested, with the exception of a veshti. While young boys are allowed to wear shorts, they are banned from wearing shirts. Women are not allowed to wear western attire - they can only enter the temple premises in saris. Young girls are allowed to wear long skirt and blouses.Skirting the issue?
BOYS can turn up in three quarter pants, but no one wearing shorts will be allowed in.
GIRLS can wear skirts that reach below knee level; anything above the knees, and they're out.
No gutka, plastic
The mandal has also banned the use of plastic and gutka within the pandal premises this year. Acting on the appeal made by BMC and the mayor to avoid plastic, the mandal will be using cloth bags to distribute Prasad to visitors. The mandal has also decided not to accept sponsorship offers from gutka brands, or advertise the banned substance. Voices
This is unfair to college students, as we usually visit the pandals after college, and during the rains we often find it convenient to wear shorts and instead of longer pants.
- Rigved Angne, 20, Andheri (W)
The problem with today's generation is that they don't understand the importance of being properly dressed while visiting a holy place. It is a very good decision taken by the mandal to protect the traditions of the festival, and also a way to please the God.
- Prajakta Deshpande, 47, Gilbert Hill, Andheri (W)