Twitter users shared pictures of traditionally worn pherans Image Credit: via Twitter

  • How controversy erupted on Twitter after an order banning the use of the pheran in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The order was originally meant for the state secretariat in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • School department retracted the order after social media reactions

Dubai: A controversy erupted in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir following an order banning the use of the pheran, a key part of traditional Kashmiri attire.

A pheran is a long loose gown worn by men and women in state. The cloak that reaches below the knees is usually made of either of wool or jamewar which is a mixture of wool and cotton.

A security directive

The order was originally meant for the state secretariat in Jammu and Kashmir.

In September, the General Administration Department of the Civil Secretariat in Srinagar asked government officials to “be attired in proper formal dress while appearing before any court of law and while attending offices in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and strictly avoid casual or party attire”.

Ban retracted for educational institutions

The decision was a security directive. However, the zonal education officer (ZEO) in Langate, following the civil secretariat directive, issued an order last week banning the pheran in educational institutions.

A stream of protest erupted on Twitter criticising the ban, forcing the school department to retract the order. However, the security protocol at the secretariat remains.

Social media users react

Hashtags like #dontbanourpheran and #pheranlove dominated India’s Twitter trends with many referring to the ban as a cultural onslaught.

Former chief minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah(@OmarAbdullah) tweeted: “I fail to understand why pherans should be banned! This is a regressive order that makes no sense at all. Pherans are a very practical way of keeping warm during the cold winter aside from being part of our identity. This order should be withdrawn.”

@OmarAbdullah added: “My father and I have worn pherans to official functions many times over the years and will continue to do so, silly government orders notwithstanding. #dontbanourpheran #revokepheranban.”

Twitter user @imtiyazpandow posted: “My culture is my identity of being a Kashmiri. Pheran is an integral part of my Kashmiri culture. I need no permissions from anyone to wear it or not. If pheran represents me as a Kashmiri then I pledge to keep this pheran with me till the last breath.”

Against democracy

Some said it was against India’s democratic principles, to stop people from wearing their traditional attire.

@AbdulkaderMB tweeted: “According to one section if you wanted to live in this country obey their orders blindly right or wrong. Eat what they wish, wear what they like. They treat us like slaves. Shameful for so-called biggest democracy!”

@abrarrasool: “India is a country where multiple cultures are practiced but #pheran is now a problem for them, all of a sudden...why?”

Pherans necessary in winters

@LovekeshMalviy5 pointed out that pherans were necessary to tackle the region’s winter months and how, for tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir, photos wearing pherans were quite common: “It is really absurd to hear pherans can be banned. This is cultural identity and basic need of people to keep themselves warm in the bone-chilling cold. Also tourists visiting Kashmir always have photos in a pheran which is a lifetime memory for them.”

However, some tweeps including @lalitkumar3164 debated it was a security issue: “... do agree that pherans are very good for fighting the cold of J&K. But, maybe misuse would have led to such thinking of banning. And I don’t think pheran should be linked with the ...religion, but with J&K cold.”

Security directive still in place

According to Indian news website, Mohammad Shafi War, the chief education officer of Kupwara said that the order was withdrawn on Tuesday. He said: “There is an official dress code but we cannot ignore the significance of pheran. That is why we have withdrawn the order issued by ZEO Langate.”

People visiting the secretariat still cannot wear the pheran

Kashmiri newspaper Rising Kashmir reported: “People visiting the secretariat in Srinagar are asked to take off their pherans and put them atop iron poles outside the gates. Officials explained that this is part of security protocol since the pheran is a voluminous garment that could be used to conceal banned items.”