Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Embracing your culture

I was wondering what to blog when I chanced upon Vatsans blog on traditional wear. Wonderful question. Actually the points he has brought up are of this discomfort men feel towards their cultural wears. You see we gals still wear sarees, half sarees and salwars.

Or is this spurning of cultural identity and embrace of western wear confined to Indians only?

Lets take a look at the 2 other races in Malaysia.

The Malays of both genders are known to wear their traditional clothes. Come Fridays*, a bevy of men and women can be found smartly dressed in their Malay traditional costumes, from office boy to management. In contrast, traditional wear is a dying trend among the Chinese. Even at weddings, the celebrated couples rarely don their traditional wear. Seeing someone don a cheongsam or samfu to work nowadays is quite impossible.

Fridays* - its a Malaysian trend/way to wear traditional costumes to work on Fridays as it is a religious day observed by both Muslims and Hindus.

Again here Indian women are known to dress in their traditional costumes especially on Fridays though the preferred wear is still the Salwar than the Saree. At temples or functions the same occurs. It is extremely rare to see young Indian Malaysian men don a veshti besides the day they tie the knot.

So why do Indian men find it uncomfortable to wear their traditional wear, some to the extend of feeling ashamed? But are men only at fault or society itself?

Lets ponder on the question raised at Vatsan’s post, will it be deemed less professional to be dressed in Asian clothing's?

You are being judged by your credibility's, professionalism and how you bring yourself around. If you have the confidence enough to wear your traditional wear, it shows you don’t mind standing out, being different and that you are strong enough to project your principles without conforming to the norm.

Of course not everyone will see it that way. Sometimes it makes me wonder how our own kind are capable of looking down on you. Here are two situations I have been in.

I attended 3 interviews wearing a Salwar one at an Indian company another 2 at Chinese companies. Now the Indian lady took one look at me and exclaimed

You don’t look modern enough, I’m afraid you don’t look professional enough.

Because she had been my dads friend, I controlled my tongue, deciding not to rebut her outrageous claim. Subsequent 2 interviews, they were quite impressed with my cultural backgrounds and not once was I questioned if I was professional enough and was offered the jobs. Of course when the Indian lady called back a few months later, she got a nice sarcastic remark from me.

So probably being in the midst of such individuals, men feel it is better to confront to the norm. However by doing so you’re losing that individual part of yourself. Once again I repeat this line I love saying and following -

Why bother what others think of you?

The question really is why are men ashamed of their traditional wear, while they applaud women who continue to dress so?

Ps : There’s nothing wrong in embracing western wear and way of life, its wrong when you feel embarrassed of your own culture because of that!


donotspam said...

Cool stuff.

WA said...

Visit, a while ago was at the temple during Navarathiri, there was a speech after the pooja which was excellent. But felt the lady who delivered the speech was slightly unfair as she had a dig at the young girls for not turning up in traditional wear. It was a week day, most of us had gone straight from work as it would have taken forever to go home get changed and then go to them temple. I also felt that it was unfair that only the girls were picked on during the speech, not a word was said about the menfolk who were mostly in their work clothing too.

VJ said...

i promise, if we do meet for the first time, its gonna be vesthi, serious... :p

WA said...

Hmmmm all these days I presumed VJ was Vaijayanthi :D I guess its Vijay then :-P

GratisGab said...

Totally agree.

I do notice that it's somewhat changing now. Slowly though but it is. It's "cooler" to where a kurta or a veshti now than it was say 10 years ago.

Harish said...

I don't wear ethnic stuff. For jus' one reason.

Not coz I'm ashamed of my culture. But coz I don't feel comfortable in it. Simple as that.

ada-paavi!!!! said...

i wear a vesthi at home, donw ear one when 1 go out cause i cant drive a bike wearing it, but i am very comfy wearing a kurta and jeans\pant, and i wear that quite often
when i attended a few campus inerviews wearing tat, the first question i was asked was am i an activist (social activist kinda stuff), i think its my right to wear whatever i want without being judged, is it the perogative of an activist to wear a kurta and jeans?

secodnyly, when men of my generation wear traditional attire they r clearly making a statement, they dont wear it cause they want to but cause they wish to make a statement, well atleast in most cases.

how many women wear sarees? i mean of my age grp who wear sarees cause they want to and not cause they wish to make a statement?

ps me blogrolled u.

ioiio said...

Indha post'a naan padichen.. Aana commenta vatsan bloglaye pottutten..ANgeya poi padichikkonga visit..

lol :)

Jayan said...

Namma ooru culturai naama kadai pudicha dhaan, westerners will be inspired to follow suite. :|

Anonymous said...

hey... kyle here...

im proud to say i do wear traditional costumes. despite the fact that im a chinese, i dont wear chinese costumes. (ive got a malay set, complete with a songkok and sampin) ive been actually looking for a nice smafu sort of top. but yeah i agree that its sad that malaysians dont wear it often enough. i think traditional costumes are cool!!!

IBH said...

I love wearing saree...and I love wearing salwar.. I mean there is no other dress that sexy+ethnic+classy.....but the hitch is I can not wear it here in US to my know the ocassion and wear it often that is what I say to my friends..I have some friends who kind of stuck to jeans and t is cool ofcourse!but sometimes I prefer wearing salwar over pants and stuff like is gives this majestic look that no other dress gives...

visithra said...

Eswara : Welcome here :) Thanks

visithra said...

Uma : Nenge ehlundrichi kethurukanum - not fair men-na vithingehnu!

But seriously going to temple in work clothes isnt a problem but when they turn up in skirts so short that you wonder how they're gonna sit, now thats when it becomes a problem.

I have seen gals coming to temple wearing tennis skirts!

visithra said...

VJ : I'm holding you to this, I'll tell you guys if he did ;p

visithra said...

Uma : hehehhe everytime I read the nick VJ I presume its a guy, since I know a few who are guys - ungaluku ehpadi Vaijayanthinu thonuchi? Hummmmm

visithra said...

Gratis : Welcome back :)) How was your trip?

It is changing people are starting to think for themselves, it helps when being ethnic is cool!

visithra said...

Harish : Post kadichirucha? You're young it'll take some time before you feel its comfortable. One day you probably would tell us otherwise :)))

visithra said...

Vatsan : Nice to hear you have no probs with it. But how many men actually wear a kurta with pants or jeans to work?

Did you tell the guy it was your right to wear what you wanted? Applauds if you did!

Probably men wear them as a statement but women nah we wear sarees/ salwars coz we like them, they look good on us and the myriad of colours we get to where plus it is categorised under formal wear!

How old are you? Ok I checked you're 20 just some 5 years younger than me, I know gals who are younger than me who dress in ethnic wear and no its not as a statement.

We all look for a reason to tie saree ;p

I'm not talking about daily, ehpa wearing saree to office and having one colleague after the other coming to you and tickling you isn't fun! Imagine if it happens daily! Brrr

I'm saying once in a while, once in a bluemoon, athukuda pasangeh panna matrangeh!

Hey thanks for blogrolling :)) Aiyoo I need to update mine, long overdue :(

visithra said...

Ioiio : seri seri nan angeh poi aprohm vivadam pahnrehn ;p

visithra said...

Jayan :Welcome here :)

Very true, but namma ooru cultura use pana westener potha than mause iruhkunu neriya per nenekurangeh!

visithra said...

Kyle : Welcome here :)

I love samfus and cheongsams, but everytime I ask my friends why they don't wear them they tell me they don't look good in them. I think they're cool too. :)

visithra said...

IBH : Me too - and I agree nothing as sexy+ethnic+classy. Salwar over pants are one of the most comfortable thing you can find yourself in - not to mention how good it looks on you ;p

ada-paavi!!!! said...

neengal romba gneralise pannerangal, women also make statement, some of ma friends, accepting it is a problem
i gave it bck to the guy, and said ill wear wat i want, if u cant accept tat i dont want ur job,
oaavam the guy was stunned, needed ppl badly so shut up and hired me,
annal i din take the job!!

visithra said...

Women making a statement with saree - humm never knew it as such.

Bravo for giving the guy a piece of your mind! :)

VJ said...

Hello Wicked Angel, its Vijay, u r correct :))

still_figuring_out said...

i personally think sarees are very pretty on girls.

in fact, i think sarees are the prettiest costumes!

visithra said...

Vj? humm nvm nvm sondha conversation

visithra said...

still : I love themm too. Also love cheosangsams with the high colours and the frog buttons, sexy i tell ya. So is the Kebaya.

But no one wheres cheongsams unless for those gals smilling and handing out pamplets. hummm

sen said...

i have a big response to this one.check it out on my site :)

visithra said...

Senthil : read it, hehehehe donno what to replyla ;p

TJ said...

Take my applause for what you did at the inteview.
During my campus placement after my undergrads, the interviewers started off pessimistically and then on interacting with me, they got convinced and the last 15 mins of my interview was asking abt my kudumi and my views on religion and culture.
As it is, there are selectors, who know what they want and ppl who know what they dont want. It is just a chance :) I have put comments relating to this in Vatsan's and Senthil's blog on this. U can read them, it hold good for ur post as well

visithra said...

Tj : welcome here :))

I think ppl fail to realise that you're being intervied for your skills not how you look. Yes being presentable is important, but it does not mean you can't be who you are! I read your comments both places :)) been following this at all 3 places! :)))

Vasu the terrible said...

Beautifully Articualated... Really nicely put. I think we are talking of images and trying to get a DSL connection to identity. Such connections are rarely simple in this world..

I think it is much more complicated in this world..


visithra said...

Vasu : Welcome here :))

Thanks. That's a creative way to put it. Yes things are rarely simple :)