Clothes have a powerful non-verballanguage that can speak to or communicate with the outside world. Clothes areclosest and essential to humans and have been a part of their identity. One canknow or identify others’ culture as easy as by just seeing the clothes theywear. Women and women’s clothes havealways been given great importance in representing one’s culture and tradition.Having given such importance to these traditional clothes results the clothesin becoming a part of identity of that particular culture or community. Mostinterestingly, it occupies a strong space in the identity of women.
‘Phanek’ isone of them. It is a wrap around and is a traditional attire of Meitei women. TheMeiteis are a small community majorly resides in the valley of Manipur, whichis in the northeastern region of India.The whole idea of ‘Phanek Setpa’i.e. wearing of Phanek is not merely wearing a traditional cloth.
We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!
It containsthe way it should be worn by wrapping around the lower body, cover from thewaist till the ankles. As a girl grows, Phanek becomes equally important to hersex and gender. Once married, it has become non-detachable from her life. Whilemen are always donned with western clothes except in some occasions, Phanekbecomes daily attire for Meitei women. It is a stigmatized cloth, which isconsidered inauspicious and impure for men to touch, even the sight of it atcertain places and time like in front of the house or any open public area inthe early morning or any time is considered inauspicious. It is untouchable tomen.
This is an act of demeaning a particular gender, which is here a woman. Meiteiwomen have a history of active participation in the social, political andeconomic movements and it persists still today (Misra & Bhattacharaya, 1986).Significantly, Phanek has been started to use by many women at the time ofdifferent political protests. Phaneks are hung on streets, which prevent thepolice forces (males) to approach the protests site. Young girl students lashPhanek on male police forces when confronted during protests and this was theheadline on news and social media that girls hit men officers with Phanek. Womenare armed with Phanek and use it as a tool or weapon to fight against or defendherself when the police forces (males) are armed with guns. Then, more than being an identitymarker or gender marker, what else does Phanek speak about? What else does itrepresent?