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RE: sumangali dress code

From: M.G.Vasudevan (
Date: Wed Nov 22 2000 - 21:28:58 PST

Dear Srinath

On your  observations I have the following comments. It may not be so
correct to say that earlier days the ladies covered their upper part with
the same one piece sari and the jacket is victorian era legacy. 

Actually jacket also has a meaning a casing or covering, besides the meaning
of a sleeved short outer garment worn on the upper part of the body.
Nowadays men's upper garment  with some style is also called jacket. Safety
jackets, life jackets etc for example.

The blouse what you have referred has a meaning "women's loose usually light
weight upper garment buttoned and collared". May be your usage of the word
is absolutely correct,  blouse can be attributed to the victorian era since
stitched buttoned etc came into usage during this era. 

My usage of jacket as a covering is also correct to the extent that it
covers the upper part. Of course I used this word in a little loose sense
meaning an upper piece of cloth only and not in a very strict meaning of
sleeved etc as defined in the dictionary.
In ancient tamil literature you have a word "kachchu" which means a long
piece of cloth specially worn on the bosoms. Of hand I can not quote these
literature reference. In the ancient temples like Srirangam or other old
temples, which we are sure that they are built before victorian era, you
find in almost all statues of women, this kachchu with a tied knot at the

To quote few lines from dhivya prabhandham itself, where you have reference
for this "kachchu" or "vaar" as this kachchu is also called 
Vaar aNintha kongai aaichchi 2-2-11 periyaazhvaar thirumozhi - as you know
kongai is bosoms, the upper garment is clearly identified here, the
aaichchi- the mother yasOdhaa and or  the aaippaadi ladies had the upper
garment of kachchu is clear from this.
Kachchodu pattaik kizhiththu kaambu thugil avai keeri nichchalum theemaigal
seivaai- 2-7-3 periyaazhvaar thirumozhi 
Kachchu, thugil are two pieces of cloth are worn by a particular women.
Krishna enjoys his pranks on this woman by tearing of her kachchu and
thugil. Please note the "plural" usage by the word "avai". 

On "thugil", in case, you have a doubt, whether it is upper or lower garment
or a common name, yes it is a common name for all clothes but here see a
specific usage.

Poonthugil sEr algul kaamar ezhil vizhal uduththu - perumaaL thirumozhi by
kulasekara 9-7 

Algul is the private parts and the cloth covering that algul is the thugil
which is like a flower in nature- so poonthugil- the thugil here is the
lower garment and same usage in periyaazhvaar  thirumozhi quoted above also.

So it not wrong to say that women have and had worn two pieces of clothes.
Similarly it is also correct and not correct to say that it is imposition by
somebody. That is in real sense it is the evolution and due to times
changing, culture changing, the dress code also changes. 

Just to quote another argument, "dhroupathy had five husbands then, why not
now also". For this the learned and  revered Paiyampaadi Sri Venkata
varadhachar swamy, anujan of Sri uththamoor swami said "that was the yuga
dharmam in that yuga. Now it is kaliyuga and same yuga dharmam can not
adopted". So changes will come, and in my opinion we need not simply stretch
certain arguments as traditional non traditional, srivaishnava non

Dhaasan Vasudevan M.G.
	-----Original Message-----
	From:	Srinath Chakravarty []
	Sent:	Wednesday, November 22, 2000 3:24 AM
	Subject:	sumangali dress code

	Dear friends:  I'm writing about two posts by Sri M.G. Vasudevan and
Sri. Mani.  The saree blouse is NOT part of traditional Hindu womens'
attire, much less Srivaishnava women.  It is a recent introduction starting
from the late 1800s onwards - when Victorian thinking British officials
deemed it unacceptable for Indian women to wear saree without a blouse.  My
koLLu pAtti never wore a blouse, and she lived well into my childhood years.
	Today we find padams of lakshmi, saraswati, ANdAL and other thAyArs
with podavais and blouses.  This is entirely misleading (not that we cannot
percieve our deities in forms that are pleasing to us, but because it gives
the false impression that blouses were always in use since ancient times).
	STITCHED garments have never been used by Hindus since time
immemorial (only flowing ones which were presumably woven using the
"wheel").  To present them today as if they were always a part of our
traditions is like saying that running water, sanitation, electricity and
modern transport have been available throughout the ages!!
	Lastly, many of the so-called standards of "modesty" that are
espoused today are again of Victorian origin - it will serve us well to
remember this so we don't have to re-write our traditions in order to
satisfy the externally imposed requirements of other (non-vedic) societies.
	-Srinath C.

	From:	"M.G.Vasudevan" < <> >

	First for "sumangali sthree"- [viz. Married women with husband
living] Such sumangalis after their bath must wear 2 vasthrams in red
colour. [one sari and another one as jacket].

	From:	Mani Varadarajan <
<> >

	It is interesting to also read the recommendation that sumangalis
wear two garments. I am told by my grandmother and others that orthodox
women in the old days eschewed tailored blouses as a modern invention,
considering them polluting. They only used a single sari to cover their
entire body. 

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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