Author: Saadut
•8:18 PM

A Pheran is just a Pheran you might say, a long robe that has been passed on for generations and over centuries in Kashmir, a garment worn to warm. But every Pheran has some story behind it. As a rule the Pheran goes right over the knees and is loose enough to create your own warm space, Pheran having survived all winters of vogue & trend; but look closely and there is more to than just a garment in this Pheran.

Women’s Pride : The one preferred by Kashmiri Muslim ladies would have their sleeves folded midway through a half opening, edged with embroidery of ‘silver or gold thread’ (the tilla). Such sleeves are called the ‘qourab’e naerr’ (the qouraab’e sleeve). Such a Pheran would also have the embroidery patterns extended to the borders and spread motifs at the neck opening. Kashmiri Pandit women on the contrary would wear a long Pheran (tied at the waist with folded material called lhungi) that would almost go up to their feet, with narrower sleeves, more often of grayish dull colors. I have heard that the non-embroidered length and color of Pandit ladies pheran was linked to the economics and practicality of it, but I leave the reason to open interpretation. I have always marveled at the way my Pandit teacher's mother looked in her attire, so magical, so Romanesque.

Necessity: The workman is characterized by his Pheran usually made of rough and dull wool, very loose and likely to be worn to the end of fabric life, may be even beyond. The rich man’s Pheran on the other end of the social net, prefers a softer fabric often of subtle colors, a garment that gets replaced mostly because of vogue rather than necessity.

I am a class apart: Some novice ‘khojjas’ (neo rich ) who migrated to the newly clustered peripheries of Srinagar seem to have done away with this koshur garment, instead donning a cross between a shawl and a blanket. This garment often imitates the appearance of wool puffed sheep skin. But by doing away with the traditional Pheran, you don’t become a different social class; you are only likely to become a human icicle in harsh Kashmir winters.

Postcard Bright’s: Then there are the all weather Pherans made of ‘terry cots’ in bright colors offered to tourists in the gardens of Srinagar, for those photo clicks. Such flashy Pherans are complimented by fake headgear that is just as real as the current peace in Kashmir.

Political Convenience: The politician has also learnt to wear this Pheran for opportunities. On those occasions of addressing  political rallies or in those rare attempts to be seen as one among the ‘commoners’ a ‘political Pheran’ is conveniently worn over his Pierre Cardin’s, Ralph Lauren’s and Polo’s. The occasional ‘political robe’ is as misfit and as loose as his political promises and rhetoric. His only real connection with The 'Pheran' is his 'phiryeth Pheran naael tchunun' actions, which he has adopted as the preamble of his survival rule book.

Like the poor who use the Pheran to hide the defects of their old garments that they may be wearing underneath the robe, the politician also attempts to use this Pheran to hide his political infirmity and frailty, his ambition and malady, but having donned Pheran for centuries Kashmiri’s know how to see through this cloak. This political Pheran is riddled with holes of disconnect and anarchy, but ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ would not have any self realization. It only takes a child to see through his robe.

Our Pherans are a seasonal necessity, his Pheran is power convenience.


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On December 30, 2011 at 11:08 AM , rahuldass said...

what a punch line on the politicians