Wearing Salwar Kameez Is Not A Crime

Last updated 15 Feb 2017 . 5 min read

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Judging is one of the most overused words nowadays and while some judge directly or indirectly, some spew horrible words. As usual, women are the main target. The world would probably be a little different if we could reduce it on the individual level!

Recently, I came across an advertisement that caught my attention. It was all about not judging a woman. It was an advertisement with a different mindset and which really appealed to me a lot. It was indeed inspiring and empowering lines for every woman, one of which says, “Meri salwar-kameez mujhko behenjee nahein bulatee (My Salwar-kameez doesn’t call me an aunty)” and the salwar-kameez clad girl immediately sits and rides away on her bullet with pride in front of all the so called “modern” people.

I am little unaware if you have ever come across this word “Behanji“. The first time I heard it was during my school and college days. I heard it more often in college as there was no uniform and everybody flaunted their outfits and hairstyles. The word was particularly used for the girls who didn’t have a knack for fashion and style. They missed that “wow” factor in their personality, and in what they wear. Especially the ones who were always seen in typical Indian wears. Though the time has changed a lot in the last two decades but the word “Behanjee” is still there with with more and more fan following.


During these two decades, I had completely forgotten about that word but the powerful lines in advertisement revived my memory. It resonates with me.

I am a Salwar -kameez lover now. Since childhood, I was allowed to wear what I wanted to and, I still, have that freedom of choice. My love for cotton, handloom, and silk started a few years ago. There was the time, before that, when I never wore any Indian outfit till. It was all jeans, trousers and all types of western wear that I loved at that time.

Slowly, silk saree grabbed my attention. It is one of the most dreaded and uncomfortable outfits. Apparently, I learned how to carry it with grace and it became one of the most beautiful and elegant choices for me. I am not against of those who love western wear or anything else. But I often get angry when people around me question my choice to wear chanderi or handloom or an old-styled Indian wear. They make me sound like I am a boring person who doesn’t enjoy being called modern or that I avoid the option western wear out of compulsion. Otherwise they say that I am incompetent when it comes to contemporary fashion or style.

Women on a beach wearing different kinds of sarees
Photo credits: Flickr/
Melanie M

When you dine in 5-star hotels with Indian outfit, people give you weird looks; as if you have violated (an unsaid) a dress code or are an alien.

One of my friends told me that the waiter spoke to her in Hindi when he saw her in salwar-kameez. I laughed out loud but ultimately it made me think and write about the many questions around.

I have seen people get offended when women wear a western outfit but I didn’t expect that even an Indian outfit could come under fire. Is it a crime if you ride a bullet or you are a scientist or a teacher or in any high profile position or a mother who likes wearing salwar-kameez or saree?


Why has the mentality changed so much that people who love to wear Indian dresses are also targeted? How can an outfit define anyone?

To clear all doubts, an outfit can never define your personality!

A woman in a salwar-kameez is not necessarily illiterate or someone who can’t speak fluent English or is u-intellectual or one who doesn’t know anything.

Can’t a woman wear whatever she wants to, leaving aside all prejudices?

And please never underestimate a salwar-kameez-clad woman. Speak to her, get to know her first and then think about what you need to say. You might find that she has several degrees and awards and is kind and generous too!

A word that goes hand in hand with “judgement” is “choice”. Let people choose the latter and feel happy and content in what they like and what they want to wear. Maybe they are amongst those who don’t want to be a part of fashion race.

Again and again, we say, “Please don’t judge the book by its cover.” But it looks like things are getting worse day by day. One thing is for sure, “Meri salwar kameez mujhko behnajee nahee bulatee (My salwar-kameez doesn’t call me a behenji)!” Wear what you love and not what others want to see you in!

This post was origianlly published on Youth Ki Awaaz.

SHEROES - lives and stories of women we are and we want to be. Connecting the dots. Moving the needle. Also world's largest community of women, based out of India. Meet us at www.sheroes.in @SHEROESIndia facebook.com/SHEROESIndia

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