Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fatwa on Indian tennis star dress deplored by Christians, Muslims

New Delhi (ENI). Christian women activists have joined some Muslim leaders in lambasting a religious edict by a Muslim cleric demanding that Sania Mirza - India's teenage tennis sensation - who reached the fourth round of the US Open last week wear "Islamic dress".

The 18-year old Muslim player made international headlines when she became the first Indian woman to reach the US Open's fourth round before going down to top-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia.

"The dress she wears on the tennis courts not only doesn't cover large parts of her body, but it leaves nothing to the imagination," Haseeb-ul-hasan Siddiqui, a senior cleric of the Sunni Ulema Board said in issuing a fatwa last week. He accused the teenager of "indecent dressing" at tennis courts and in advertisements, and said that "Islam does not permit a woman to wear skirts, shorts and sleeveless tops".

The first Indian woman tennis player to break into the top 50 women tennis players in the world, she is now ranked 34. Mirza is also the second highest paid national sports star, charging up to 15 million rupees (US$350 000) for each advertisement - only surpassed by Indian cricket idol Sachin Tendulkar.

"This [fatwa] is really absurd," Maulana Wahidudhin Khan, president of the Islamic Centre in New Delhi told Ecumenical News International. Describing the controversial Muslim edict as "irrelevant", Khan said it "only ridicules Islam".

Several women activists including Christians also attacked the issuing of the fatwa against Mirza.

"Religious leaders should not concern themselves with what kind of dress sports women should wear," Jyotsna Chatterji, a prominent woman activist and Church of North India member, told ENI. Sports competitors should have "freedom to choose the dress that suits their sports", said Chatterji who heads a group called the Joint Women's Programme. She noted religious leaders "should be more concerned with the spiritual lives of sportspersons than prescribing dress codes for them".

"This [fatwa] is ridiculous," said Annie Raja, another Christian and general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women. "Muslims should come out and denounce such steps that discredit the entire (Muslim) community," said Raja.

However, Sayed Ifthikar Ali, editor of Shodhan, a weekly magazine in western Maharashtra state told the Times of India newspaper that he had refrained from publishing Mirza's action photos, as these "will offend sensibilities"


American Indian Dresses Blend Tradition and Innovation

Washington -- The prominent roles of women in American Indian societies are mirrored in the evolving designs of the ceremonial dresses and accessories they have created over the past 200 years, says Emil Her Many Horses, an expert on Northern and Southern Plains cultures at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).

Her Many Horses, a member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) nation of South Dakota, is co-curator of the NMAI exhibit “Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses.” The exhibit traces the history of native dressmaking from the 19th century to the present, with examples of richly ornamented deerhide and cloth dresses representing a variety of North American tribal and regional styles.

The dresses, shown with moccasins, leggings and other handmade items, illuminate the vibrant artistic traditions of American Indian communities. “In our cultures, artistic ability is considered a spiritual gift,” Her Many Horses told USINFO. “Women who excelled at dressmaking always were held in high regard” for contributing to their families’ well-being, and their creations enhanced the status of their families within the tribal framework.

Designs “sometimes originated from dreams and visions,” he said, but societal changes also played a part in design trends. As North America’s indigenous societies came into contact with white settlers in the 19th century, new materials such as glass beads, wool, cotton, ribbons and silver buttons were acquired through trading and quickly found their way into native dressmaking designs. Traditional methods of embellishment -- such as stitching elk teeth onto a deerhide surface, adorning a war bonnet with eagle feathers or painting symbolic motifs -- remained popular, but were combined with intricate beadwork patterns.

American Indian women had to learn how to circumvent heavy-handed restrictions on their customs and ceremonies. In the late 19th century, U.S. government authorities pressured tribes to assimilate into white culture and tried to eradicate tribal languages by enrolling American Indian children in English-only schools. Paiute tribal elders responded by establishing the Ghost Dance, a ceremony that called for a revival of the traditional Indian way of life. It soon took hold among tribes throughout the American West. The federal government -- fearing tribal insurrections -- banned the Ghost Dance in 1890 and insisted that traditional ceremonies be replaced by patriotic displays on official holidays such as Independence Day, celebrated annually on July 4th.

Indigenous societies outwardly complied with this demand by staging July 4th celebrations with elaborately costumed dancers. But those dancers -- wearing fringed and beaded outfits designed by resourceful native dressmakers -- were sending coded messages to their communities, signaling tribal solidarity in the face of government repression. They performed traditional dance steps, and their costumes -- adorned with beaded representations of the U.S. flag -- used conventional patriotic imagery to honor their own warrior ancestors.

Today’s American Indian dressmakers still bead their costumes with red, white and blue flag motifs to pay tribute to U.S. war veterans within tribal families. In fact, the Kiowa tribe now dedicates its age-old War Dance ceremony to its soldiers serving in Iraq and elsewhere. The finely crafted buckskin dresses worn by Kiowa dancers are an integral part of this custom, said Her Many Horses.

He also pointed to the Fancy Dance and Shawl Dance practitioners, who take part in dance competitions at contemporary social gatherings. The dancers wear extravagantly decorated costumes with long fringe that sways with every movement or dance step. Thus, the dressmaking skills of native women continue to perpetuate their tribal heritage.

Although the traditional elements of costume design are passed down through generations, today’s innovators ensure that dressmaking techniques also look to the future. The “Identity by Design” exhibit opens with a video of dancers in modern-day ceremonial garb, followed by a panoramic display of dresses, leggings, moccasins and cradleboards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The exhibit also includes heirloom-quality garments from award-winning American Indian dressmakers of the 21st century.

At the exhibit’s conclusion, dressmakers and dancers appear in a film montage, offering commentary on the larger meaning of ceremonial American Indian clothing. Georgianna Old Elk, an Assiniboine, explains that the dress she wears in dance competitions was a gift from her extended family. “When I dance, I am never alone,” she says. “Even though they are gone now, they are still with me, and I feel them with me.”

In the film, dancer/designer Keri Jhane Myers, a Comanche, says she ventures into New York City’s fashion district to hunt for unusual dressmaking materials whenever she travels to East Coast dance competitions. “You look at the things available, and how you could incorporate them while keeping to a type of tradition,” she says.

The NMAI exhibit has generated “a very positive response” from viewers who are “dazzled by the phenomenal artistry” of indigenous craftswomen, said Her Many Horses, but its main purpose is “to highlight the traditions and roles of Native women dressmakers in their societies, then and now. In Native societies, women are really the keepers of tradition and knowledge. They keep the culture alive.”

The exhibit has been on display at NMAI since March and will remain open until September 2008. The exhibit also may be viewed on the Smithsonian’s Web site.


Women leave traditional Bolivian dress in closet

LA PAZ: Under a bright, highland sun, Esther Rodriguez became the talk of La Paz when her delicate good looks and sartorially splendid attire, complete with derby hat and layer-cake skirt, won her the city's beauty contest for indigenous women.

Her coronation as Miss Cholita Paceña - a reference to the Cholas, or Indian women, of La Paz - was celebrated in all the daily papers. But soon after, the same papers “unmasked” Rodriguez after it was revealed that she never wore her pollera (pronounced po-YEH-rah), the flowing skirt that had helped her win, to her university classes, touching off a mini-scandal in a country where countless women spend their days toiling in traditional clothes.

“No one is obligated to dress in one particular way,” Rodriguez, 23, said, putting up a spirited defense.

The episode spoke of a little noticed but significant trend in Latin America's most indigenous country - a new generation of indigenous women, urban and professionally ascendant, who honor the customs of the past but embrace modern Bolivia, Western dress and all.

“My mother wears a pollera, so does my grandmother,” said Rodriguez, sitting for an interview in her winning green pollera at the food market where she works. “I don't wear it, only because I study here in the city.”

The clothing of highland Indian women - the pollera, the 19th-century European hat and the silky shawl known as a manta - have long been a curious sight in Bolivia and Peru. Tourists trekking through the Andes are as charmed by the colorful skirts and brightly colored hats as by colonial towns and the rugged mountains where ancient Indian civilizations thrived.

The custom is a throwback to colonial times, when the Spaniards who ruled here required the Indians, after a series of uprisings, to abandon their traditional dress clothing and wear the garments then popular in Spain. The practice continued even after revolutionaries overthrew the monarchy, evolving in accordance with the fashion style of the day.

By the early 20th century, said David Mendoza, a sociologist who studies indigenous culture, women had settled on the clothing of turn-of-the-century Spain. Bolivia's 1952 revolution, which was largely spearheaded by Indian miners and overturned the old social order, only cemented the tradition.

The clothing may clearly have European origins - the stovepipe hats some women wear are a dead giveaway - but the Indians saw the adoption of old-fashioned skirts and hats as an act of empowerment that has only expanded as Bolivia's Indian culture has flexed its political muscle in recent years.

“Because it's part of our culture, we wear this,” said Maria Eugenia Roque, who is in her 30's and often wears the pollera. “That's where we're from. That's our story, our identity.”

But even in this country - Latin America's most indigenous, where perhaps 70 percent of its nine million people are of Indian descent - the future of the pollera and derby hat is far from certain.

No one is predicting the demise of the tradition, but with indigenous women increasingly residing in cities, and a growing number of young Indians even breaking their way into universities and professional jobs, the clothing of the past is being set aside for special ceremonies and parties.

“If a young woman wants another life, if she wants a law degree or to go to medical school, she cannot go dressed as a Chola,” said Mendoza, who is director of the Tambo Kirkincho cultural museum in La Paz, which includes an exhibition on Indian dress. “If you're successful, most women just do not wear the pollera.”

For some young indigenous women, the belief that they will face discrimination or be taunted as rural hicks has prompted them to drop the traditional garments. But the shift has as much to do with style and a modern sense of fashion, which has touched even the insular world of Bolivia's Quechua and Aymara Indians in this most isolated of countries, landlocked in the middle of South America.

“I would not dress like that,” said Alison Cruz, 17, who works in her father's shop, Princess Hats, selling the derby hats so popular among her people. “I would maybe do it to see what it looks like in the mirror. But I would never go out that way.”

Cost is also an issue. If a Chola really wants to dress to impress, the price can be prohibitive.

A top-of-the-line hat can cost $200, more than most Bolivians can earn in a month. And a trendy pollera can go for as much as $50. All Cholitas also know that the attire must be accompanied by the most elaborate of gold jewelry, adding yet more expense.


Choose Hot Indian Dresses Online To Match Your Style

The world of couture and high fashion can sometime feel far removed from that of a classroom and cubicle. Fashion in India is becoming a growing industry. Fashion in India covers a whole range of clothing form ornate clothes designed for wedding ceremonies to prêt lines, sports wear etc.

The times are changing. Indian dresses like sari and salwar kameez doesn’t apply only to aged women. By doing mix-match you can create hot Indian dresses to match your style and occasion.

Indian dress like sari remains the traditional clothing of Indian women, worn in varied styles; it is a long piece of flat cotton, silk or other fabric woven in different textures with different patterns. The sari has a lasting charm since it is not cut or tailored for a particular size.

The graceful feminine attire can also be worn in several ways and its manner of wearing as well as its color. And textures are indicative of the status, age occupation, region and religion of women.

Now days the Indian dresses like sarees, salwar and lehnga are introduced in a style that no Indian dress designer would have dared even a year back. The new collections will include a new line of women’s wear called “trouser sari” and “skirt sari” that as the name suggest, are pre-pleated saris with a trouser underneath and a skirt-pleated and designed to look like a sari. Indian dresses are being introduced now with all latest cuts and styles thus giving them all new cuts thus making them more hot!

These are some of the new trends of making sari a hot Indian dress. From georgettes to crepes to cottons are the best fabrics for the designer wear and best of designs too-be it heavy zardosi or simple light aari work.

In the party town, one gets to see party ladies flaunting backless and noodle straps. Choosing the hot Indian dresses online are basically exclusive wear which are heavily embellished and make wearer look quiet attractive. Georgettes, crepe, silk are the common fabric used in designer apparel.

Hot Indian dresses whether saris, salwar kameez, lehngas are also worn by teenage girls with innovative cuts for the blouses and kameez giving Indian couture that hot look. Bright color and basic embellishment of smart embroideries form the basis of these dresses.

These experimental hot Indian dresses like saris, salwar kameez sell more. Women say that the innovative ideas make them wear sari once again. Shaded chiffons, georgettes, silk, tissue with embroideries including gara, dabka gotta Patti and even embellished with sawaroski crystals and sequins with harmony of colors like light fuchsia, pistachio, primrose, white, ivory, azure, aqua, party wear have been ones favorite. These are some of the colors style work which can help you in choosing hot Indian dresses online.

With increasing demand of hot Indian dress styles many online stores are coming up with lot of variety to satisfy both Indian and international customers. http://www.utsavsarees.com is one of the online stores catering to demand of all women who want to be both trendy and traditional.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Hemant_Jain

Off White Indian Dresses For That Sexy Look

Shades of white have always been associated with elegance and class. We are moving ahead of times and in this rat race, we are trying to keep abreast with the latest trends in fashion. Furthermore, we in this generation do not engulf ourselves in the long-lived traditions. The colour off white is popular these days. Many girls wear either plain off white Indian dress or even heavy ones depending on the occasion. Some women add grace to this off white Indian dresses by wearing it with contrasting shades.

With the upcoming of highly advanced fashion sense, girls surely know what looks good on them. At times an off white Indian dress like saree with a heavy diamond set or a pearl necklace looks just fabulous. More importantly, young girls get very well fitted off white Indian dresses which gives them a stunning look. Sleeveless or deep necklines in an off white Indian dress gives a very sexy look. And these dresses are made available through online shopping.

The colour off white add more charm to it since celebrities are often traced wearing this color in TV shows or award ceremonies. An Indian dress like parallel suit in off white color with big danglers and a well studded diamond ring makes one look out of the world.

It can thus be said that no matter how much we talk about this colour, we shall always have more and more to add on this topic. The off white India dress is the ultimate style statement and more so it always stands superior to any other colour sequence. For those who wear this colour, one usually stands out of the entire crowd. It seems that this colour is an indispensable part of our clothing. One’s wardrobe is not complete without off white. If you wish to pave your way in somebody’s heart, all you require to do is just wear a good off white Indian dress with comfortable footwear and matching accessories.

With the increasing demand of the off white Indian dresses from the people not only in India but also worldwide, many online stores are coming up with wide variety of these off white sexy Indian dresses. http://www.utsavsarees.com is also one such online store which offers wide variety of designer off white Indian dresses.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Hemant_Jain